As spring arrives lots of flowers start to appear and so does the food for bees. However in winter food can be scarce for bees. Here are a few things you can plant in your garden to provide food for bees in winter when they really need it.
Calendula grows really well from seed. They provide lots of flowers all year round that bees love.
Borage also grow well from seed. They are blue and have a single petal arrangement, which are easy for honey bees to forage from.
Nasturtiums thrive in winter if you don’t get frosts.
Herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Sage, Oregano, Lavender and Mint provide an abundance of flowers all year round.
Forage peas, Lupins and Broad beans are manure crops that will provide food for bees in winter while preparing your garden for the next spring.
The New Zealand native Hebe comes in many colours and is an excellent winter food source for bees.
Koanga Seeds produce a beneficial seed blend called Herbal Ley full of plants that produce food for bees including Alfalfa, Phacelia, Buckwheat, White Lupin, Daikon, Radish, Rape seed, Red Clover, Subterranean Clover, White clover, Yarrow, Plantain and Chicory.
King Seeds have put together several beneficial seed blends of plants that produce food for bees. One called Beneficial Insect Blend includes Buckwheat, Dill, Bishops Flower, Parsnip, Fennel, Bergamot and White Alyssum. Another called Bring on the Bees is full of Anise Hyssop, Bergamot, Bee Balm, Borage, Echium Blue Bedder and Phacelia Lacy. A blend called Wildflower Pollinator includes Rudbeckia, Thyme, Red Clover, Phacelia, Echium, Salvia, Cornflower, and European Poppy.
For more ideas of what plants to grow to provide food for bees check out this website.
If you are going to grow your plants from seed check out our post on what seeds to use as not all seeds sold in New Zealand are safe for bees.