Monday, September 3, 2007

Bee and Plant Garden

Updated, March 15th, 2009

I always enjoy working in the garden. I like collecting unique plants, growing them from seeds, but never looked at them as bee friendly or unfriendly plants. To me a good plant is low maintenance, drought tolerant, and unique/rare. Now, it must also be friendly to bees, in other words, it should produce nectar and pollen.

This is my bee yard, it is not ideal but I have to make it work here. I think it will work, and I can imagine a total of 3 hives, hopefully one of them a Top Bar hive. The house is on the left, and my driveway is on the other side of the Palmetto's in the background. The shed I picked up from a friend at work. A casualty of her neighborhood by-laws makes it my honey house, bee equipment, and storage.

Cons –
-Too much shade. Shade is supposedly prefer by Small hive Beetles.
-Too much yard debris on the ground. Attracts ants
-Falling branches that may damage a hive.

I can control two of the three problems. My set up I believe has the Hive beetles, and the ants under control.
Pros –
-Lot of Pollen and Nectar Sources near by.
-My logic is that shade frees up bees from fanning duty. A hive under the full Florida sun probably must be fanned by bees to keep it from overheating.
-NO grass or weeds to mow, as the picture shows, very little grows under the canopy of the trees

As things flower and look their best, I'll update this section

Bee Friendly -
(October) Floss silk tree - someday it will be the showcase of my front. Unfortunately is going to have just one bloom this year. The tree is about 10 feet tall, and I put it in on X-mas 2006. The tree usually doesn't bloom for a couple of years, so it was a big surprise that it bloomed, and a big tease that it has just one bloom. Some day it will look like this.
(August to Early November) Hyacinth bean- . Climbing Vine, large clumps of small colorful flowers. Popular with all pollinating insects in October. No insect would look at it in August. Small wild green bees were all over it in November. Attempting to propagate by waiting for seeds to develop from blooms. Pods and seeds may be poisonous due to high concentrations of cyanogenic glucosides, and can only be eaten after prolonged boiling.
Firebush - A good source of nectar. The bees interest seems to be limited to just when is the only source of Polen and Nectar. Flowers all year around, but bees take interest only during the months of October and early November

Saw Palmetto - It is a small palm, normally reaching a height of around 2-4 m. Its trunk is sprawling, and it grows in clumps or dense thickets in sandy coastal lands or as undergrowth in pine woods or hardwood hammocks (Wikipidia) Begins to bloom in Late March till early May

Magnolia trees - Magnolia is a large genus of about 210[1] flowering plant species in the subfamily Magnolioideae of the family Magnoliaceae. (wikipedia) I have three large tress that bloom in the summer begining in April. Beauty Berry - Begins blooming in May. Literature says is a good nectar source, but it is not a good pollen source

Black Berry and Blue Berry- Begins blooming in Late February till ?

Herbs - Basil, Cilantro, chives, Lemon balm, and many more. I try to plant batches of everything months apart that way there is something blooming all the time.

Confederate Jazmin- This one is wrapped around a 75 foot pine tree. Blooms early May,and when it blooms you can smell it the minute you step outside the house.

Bromeliads - Very popular Tropical plant. These are those very expensive plants you see with beautiful blooms in the stores. I have several varieties, that may flower at any time from spring to fall. I can't give them away fast enough. For every one I pull, two fill in the empty space.

Bromeliad in bloom (Puya raimondii)

Another Plant I completely ignored till now. (Picture) Wisteria - Paying more attention to it now. I have two vines that climbed a couple of pine trees some 30' high. Great bee plant, blooms spring to summer, but I have never seen mine like the ones in the Wikipedia link. Fertilizing it and talking to it nice in the hope it will bloom better. Is classified semi invasive by the state of Florida. So far this year I have given away 5 new shoots (about 1 to 3 feet tall). I kept and transplanted 5 plants, all of which are doing great.

Fruit trees - Six citrus trees (March bloom), Two Mango's (March Bloom), two Florida Grape vines (Wine grapes - most bitter grapes you can ever try ), Pineapple plants, and my latest addition ..... a young Japanese plum tree.

Other trees: Oaks (March Bloom), pines , Weeping Willow (January and February bloom), Palms, Silver Dollar eucalyptus, and Brazilian Pepper (September November bloom)

Bushes: Azaleas, and Hibiscu

Azaleas - Blooms late January. Buble bees show interest in the Azaleas, Honey bees don't touch it. Blooms around2nd week of February, for 2 to 3 weeks afte initial bloom.

Bee Unfriendly - White Ti ti (Cyrilla racemiflora L.), Seen pictures of this plant, but have never seen it in person. On the other hand, Yellow Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens. I had been training one of this plants (picture) up and over a trellis for 2 years now. Was never a big flowered, but the Florida Beekeepers forum guys suggested I should get rid of it. Very very poisonous. Three Wisteria plants are in its place now. (See picture above)

Around the yard - I like unique plants. Some I grown for their looks, others just to see if I can. Florida Soil is very sandy, so I prefer to grow or at least start out most of my plants in pots.
Tobacco (picture) - Smokers at work were complaining about how much the addiction was costing them. Made me wonder why smokers don't grow their own stuff. I did some online research, found an online seed supplier, and for $35 I got a book on how to process tobacco, and more seeds than I knew what to do. Is a beautiful plant, has nice blooms, and tons of seeds. I'm not a smoker, but it turns out tobacco makes a great natural bug insecticide. Also, a lot of the leaf eating bugs, prefer it over my tomatoes and herbs. Not sure if they get addicted or die from cancer, but as long as they stay off my stuff and on the Tobacco - I'll keep growing it. I been able to grow three harvests per year. I mostly use it to mulch, but some say is good to smoke the bees with it at least twice/year. Organic way to knock varroa mites off bees.

Sugar cane - Now how cool would it be if I could soak this in water, and make natural sugar water for the bees. I'm a long way from it. I got 1 stock from a friend, that technically I could had gotten five plants from, but only one of the stocks grew. Here it is, right next to my seedlings of Passion fruit plants for next year.
Frangipani Plant - The flowers from these plant are use to make Hawaiian Lais. Beautiful, very fragrant, but one of the most useless flowers when dealing with bees. Along with another one of my favorite plants., the Bouhgainvillea


Anthony said...

I have just purchase a beehive but do not have any bees yet, do you know where I can get some? All of the large dealers are not supplying any until the spring. Furthermore, I have neighbors too and four children. Have you had any problems? Lastly, it appears that you are using the new poly hive, is that correct? My email is

Bee Anonymous: said...

Hope I was able to help. Find a local beekeeper to get bees next spring. Right now may not be the best time to move or start a hive, before winter. You have my e-mail now. Let me know if I can be of any help. Check on Yahoo groups, for Florida Beekeepers. You might find a local bee keeper near you. Like i said in my e-mail. COme spring, a lot of keepers will be splitting their hives.

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