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What do bees forage for?

Bees are fantastic foragers and pollinators. The bees will fly over three miles away from their hive and continually adapt to the changing season and plants. A typical bee will make 3,000 visits to flowers in a day and will keep visiting the same area until all the nectar is finished.

The waggle dance
In a colony, over half the bees will spend their time foraging. Within these foragers, there is a small number of elite 'scout bees'. The scouts spend their time looking for good sources of food. Once they have found a good source of quality nectar, they return to the hive and tell the other bees where to find it. They do this by performing the famous waggle dance.

The scout bee stands on the honey comb and dances. Like any good dancing club - it's quite dark in the beehive. The other bees have to feel the dance with their antennae. The scout also shares some of the nectar, to let the other bees know the quality that they have found.

honey bee waggle dance

Which plants provide the most nectar?
Bees collect a wide range of nectar. The most definitive guide of nectar source is this great Wikipedia Article.

source of nectar for bees

What plants are the best for your bees?
There are lots of plants that are fantastic for bees. As a general rule, you should try to plant as wide a variety as possible. You should aim to plant them in clumps to make it easier for the bees to find and if possible choice local plants rather than exotic ones. Some of the best are:

  • Basil
  • Berberis
  • Borage
  • Buckwheat
  • Californian poppy
  • Calluna vulgaris
  • Catmint
  • Crocus
  • Doronicum
  • Geranium
  • Globe thistle
  • Hebe
  • Lavender
  • Love-in-a-mist
  • Michaelmas Daisy
  • Phacelia
  • Poached egg plant
  • Rosemary
  • Sedum
  • Sunflower
  • Thyme
  • Viburnum
  • White sweet clover
  • Willow

There is a comprehensive list of the best plants for bees at the RHS website and also at the Melissa Bee Garden in the States

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