By Kay Montgomery
Cape Town - Grow indigenous and exotic flowers to supply nectar and pollen throughout the year.
Aloes and early flowering trees and shrubs, such as wild pear (Dombeya rotundifolia), the forest elder (Nuxia floribunda), sweet thorn (Vachellia karroo), buffalo thorn (Ziziphus mucronata) and weeping sage (Buddleja auriculata) provide forage for bees in winter.
Planted early, Iceland poppies are a great source of pollen for bees.
Honey bees pollinate fruit and nut trees (almonds, macadamia, citrus, peach, plums, pears and apples); vegetables (cucumber, squash, zucchini, watermelon); berries; herbs (thyme, marjoram, chives, origanum, lavender, borage) and flowers.
Fynbos plants are a valuable nectar source.
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A bee-friendly garden favours yellow, white, blue and purple flowers, such as alyssum, borage, felicia, gazania, lavender, polygala, protea, rosemary, sage, salvia, scabious, sunflower and thyme.
Flowers often have nectar guides that are invisible to the human eye that reflect ultraviolet light, signposts directing bees to the source of pollen or nectar. White flowers absorb ultraviolet and appear blue-green to bees.
Bees have different tongue lengths. Some bees prefer the flat, open flowers of the daisy family, while others visit tubular flowers of agapanthus, fuchsia, gladiolus, tree fuchsia (Halleria lucida), lion’s ear (Leonotis leonurus), lavender, salvia and watsonia.
Plant flowers, preferably scented, in large clusters in your garden, on your verge and in pots on the patio.
Bees need a shallow water source year round with small stones as landing pads to prevent drowning.
Do not use pesticides or fungicides in or near a bee garden.