Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bee Garden Plant List, the Good and the Toxic


I was recently looking through my beloved seed catalogs -- one of my favorite pasttimes, usually a winter exercise. Now it's been extended into a year-long exercise in patience and anticipation because of our decision earlier in the year to keep only herbs and trees (in buckets, of course, ha!), but not to grow any spring or summer-bearing plants. Ergo, no "true" garden -- and it's sheer torture seeing all the bounty growing in everyone else's gardens just now, but always a thrill to see what's doing well for different folks, and always a kick seeing the harvests coming in and what they become...meals, pickles, jams, home-canned goods, pantry staples, baked goods, soaps, papers, forages, cover crops, etc. Mmmmmm!!

My husband uttered some very dangerous words the other day, as he was looking at the buckets of green things and thinking into the future to the months we can grow seasonal crops..."we need to grow some flowers."

It's a very dangerous sentence to say aloud in my presence!
Flowers and flowering things are to me what fancy cars, great chocolate, and a getaway weekend cruise are to some folks. Or maybe they are my "beauty fix," or some soothing form of therapy. I love watching bees and insects exploring dancing floral stems, and love the worlds contained there, if I'm still enough to stop and observe. I love that some are smooth, others downy with fine hairs, and yet others are jewels set in a tangled fortress inhabited by every sort of small creature.
I'm not sure why, but as I've grown older, my preferences in flowering plants have transformed from the "perfected" hybrids to the more earthy naturally-occuring forms of these plants, which often are more highly specialized in certain respects, such as native vigor, exquisite fragrance, more natural form, and specific bloom times. My first experiment with this was years ago, when I bought a lot of roses from Jackson and Perkins, among which were hybrids and old-fashioned varieties. The hybrids were little showmen, but lacked...something. The old-fashioneds quickly sorted themselves out into two categories...survivors and casualties...either they thrived or they just died...my first gardening lesson in choosing plants suited to geographic location. The old-fashioneds bloomed only for a few weeks during a particular time of year, specific to their type, but were they ever a riot of beauty then! And the fragrances were beyond description...fragrances never captured in today's bottled perfumes. In the end, the hybrids were dug up and given away to people skilled in nurturing fussy plants, and the other survivors stayed and lived on happily.

What does this have to do with Bee Garden plants?

Lesson learned...look for plants suitable to locale first...

And mine, now, will only be open-pollinated organic seeds and starts. The thing bees and I have in common?

We adore flowers...

--------------------------

Here is the broad list I've compiled so far. They are the common names, rather than the Latin...a more complete list by Latin names is included at the bottom. These are a wide variety of plants good for either their forage, nectar, pollen, and out-of-season food extendering qualities-- primarly for honeybees, even though many of these would be great for other types of bees and pollinators as well.


I'll narrow these down with more research into which ones are specific to my region. The nice thing is that many of these plants are adaptable to many regions nationwide, and perhaps worldwide.

I'm trying to be cautious about two things:
1. Being aware of what plants are toxic to bees, or would taint the honey of honeybees or make the honey undesirable/toxic to humans.
2. Wanting to incorporate these flowers INTO an existing garden diversity of vegetables, fruit trees, herbs, etc., rather than as an isolated "bee crop." We'll be depending on our garden to be our supermarket, and we need those bees to pollinate ALL the available plants. It IS possible to plant bee-loving plants so heavily that they actually draw pollinators AWAY FROM gardens and orchards. I want the plants to be incorporated amidst each other for diversity and the potager-type garden mixed-planting beauty...more like nature does. I don't want to have a separate garden removed from the veggies, etc., that competes for pollinators to the exclusion of the other plants receiving the pollinators' attention. So, in conclusion, the bee-loving plants need to be suitable to grow among the other plants in a diverse garden setting. I don't want to introduce plants into my garden that would be invasive, or harmful to the surrounding plants...thistle would be such a plant. Some plants would be better suited to a meadow situation, fenceline, or wilder areas. Another consideration would be to situate certain plants as to their companionability to certain other plants. Basil does well near tomatoes. I need to hone my research of the following list to see what companion plants each plant is best suited for.

Here's the list! (in no particular order)

Rocky Mt. Bee Plant
Bee Balm
Fireweed
Honey Locust trees
Clovers
Legumes
Raspberries
Asters
Hyssop
Anise Hyssop
Buckwheat
Sunflowers
Elderberry
Wild Plum Tree
Mulberry Tree
Phacelia Tanacetifolia
Mints
Borage
Mexican Sunflower
Hollyhock
Nasturstium
Nicotiana
Stevia (??)
Tupelo Tree
Redbud Tree
Maple Trees
Blackberry
Ajuga
Tulip Poplar Tree
Honeysuckles
Privets
Chaste Tree
Sourwood Tree
Sumac Shrub/Tree
Crape Myrtle Shrub/Tree
Echinacea/Purple Coneflower
Partridge Pea
Brazilian Pepper Bush (invasive)
Goldenrod
Black Eyed Susan
Joe Pye Weed
Currant Bush
Sages/Salvias
Willows
Basils
Cotoneaster
Lavenders
Globe thistle
Hyssops
Marjoram
Rosemary
Wallflower
Zinnia
Comfrey
Germander
Veronica
Nasturtium
Buglass
Chamomile
Chicory
Dropwort
Fennel
Ground Ivy
Hyssop
Lavender
Marjoram
Melilot
Dead Nettle
Queen of the Meadow
Winter Savory
Fuschia
Blanket Flower
Snapdragon
Rosemary
Pincushion
Goldenrod
Yarrow
Milkweed
Aster
Bellflower
Cornflower
Chrysanthemum
Lily of the Valley
Foxglove
Fleabane
Russian Sage
Sages
Buckwheat
Lungwort
Pulsatilla (Pasque Fl)
Lemon Balm
Thyme
Borage
Snakeroot
Button Bush
Russian Olive
Hebe
Bush Clover
Spice bush
Bush Cherry
Firethorn
Sumac
Pussy Willow
Thimbleberry
Snowberry
Blueberry
Lingonberry
Cranberry
Manzanita (UvaUrsi)
Oregon Grape
Mock Orange
Hollies
Desert Willow
Crape Myrtle (pruned to bush)
Escallonia
Catmint
Catnip
Clovers
Cresses
All Mints
Teasel
Daphne
Dandelion
Wineberry
Honeysuckles
Loquat
Bee Bee Tree
Silverbell Trees
Hollies
Quince
Redbud
Lilacs
Blue Mist (Coryopteris)
Serviceberry
Plum trees
Dwarf fruit trees
Hazels
Alder
Medlar
Crape Myrtle
Golden Raintree
Tulip Tree (Yellow Poplar)
Abelia
Tree of Heaven
Acacia (Locust or Wattle)
Maples (Red, Silver, Sugar etc)
Devil's Walking Stick
American Yellow Wood
Summer Sweet
Cotoneaster
Hawthorn
Tupelo (black gum)
Sorrel (Sourwood)
Willows
Basswood
Linden
Elm
Chaste Tree
Persimmon
Horse Chestnut
Chinese and Oregon Ash
Apples
Cherries
Peach
Apricot
Plum
Pears
Citrus (all varieties)
Corn
Tomatoes
Peppers
Cucumbers
Melons
Beans
Legumes
Maples
Alder
Dandelion
Winter Honeysuckle
Willows
Pussy Willow
Peaches
Plums
Apples
Buckwheat
Crabapples
Asters
Calliopsis
Clover
Marigolds
Poppies
Sunflowers
Zinnias
Buttercups
Clematis
Cosmos
Crocuses
Dahlias
Echinacea
English Ivy
Foxglove
Geraniums
Germander
Globe Thistle
Hollyhocks
Hyacinth
Rock Cress
Roses
Sedum
Snowdrops
Squills
Tansy
Yellow Hyssop
Blackberries
Cantaloupe
Cucumbers
Gourds
Peppers
Pumpkins
Raspberries
Squash
Strawberries
Watermelons
Wild Garlic
Borage
Catnip
Coriander/Cilantro
Fennel
Mints
Rosemary
Sage
Thyme
Blueberry
Butterfly Bush
Button Bush
Honeysuckle
Indigo
Privets
Alders
Basswood
Black Gum
Black Locust
Buckeyes
Catalpa
Eastern Redbud
Fruit Trees (especially Crabapples)
Golden Rain Tree (poisonous flowers to people)
Hawthorns
Hazels
Linden
Magnolia
Maples
Mountain Ash
Sycamore
Tulip
Poplar
Willows
gallberry
citrus
tupelo
saw palmetto
melaleuca
Brazilian pepper
cabbage palm
black mangrove tree
Spanish needles plant
Seagrape
Pepper vine
Fetterbush
Gopher Apple
Buckwheat Tree/Spring Ti Ti
Buttonbush
Coral Vine
Summer Farewell
Trailing Chinquapin
Cowpeas
Curcubits (cucumbers, squashes, watermelons, cantaloupes, etc)
Lespedeza
Mango
Avocado
Snap beans
Birdsfoot Trefoil
Vetches
American and Chinese Hollies
Caroline Laurelcherry
Chinese Tallow Tree
Tulip Tree
Southern Magnolia
Cassava
Sweetbay Magnolia
Glossy Abelia Shrub
Privets and Ligustrums
Scarlet Dombeya
Yaupon
Sweet Acacia/ Mesquite
Common Mesquite
Forget-me-Not
Baby Blue Eyes
Siberina Wallflower
Cosmos
Annual Gaillardia
Corn Poppy
California Poppy
Common Mignonette
Globe Gilia
Plains Coreopsis
Lance-leaved Coreopsis
Black-eyed Susan
Bergamot/ Bee Balm
Fleabane Daisy

For a more complete list by Latin name, you can link here.

(forgive the repetition of some of the things on the list...I compiled it from various sources and have to fine-tune it yet)

Here's the Bad Boy list...plants you DON'T want bees near

Summer Ti Ti...(produces "purple brood")
Yellow Jessamine/ Gelsemium Sempervirens/ Carolina Jasmine/ Evening Trumpetflower/ Woodbine (toxic to honeybees, causes brood death)
Star Lily/Deathcamus Zigadenus genus of plants (pollen is poisonous to bees)
Heliconia genus -- false bird of paradise (toxic to bees)
Spathodea Tree/ Fountain Tree/ Africa Tulip Tree/ Flame-of-the-Forest/ Nandi Flame
Balsa Tree (toxic to bees)
Aesculus Californica/ California Buckeye/ California Horse-chestnut (toxic pollen and nectar)
Neottica Orchid (toxic to bees)
Rhododendrum Ponticum/ Azalea Pontica/ Common Rhododendron (produces honey toxic to humans)
Andromeda Polifolia/ Bog Rosemary (honey that paralyses limbs)
Mountain Laurel/ Kalmia Latifolia/ Spoonwood/Calico Bush/ (honey toxic to humans)
Sheep Laurel (honey toxic to humans)
Azaleas (honey toxic to humans)
Wharangi Bush/ Melicope/ Corkwood/ Doughwood/ Alani (honey fatally toxic to humans)
Datura (honey toxic to humans)
Belladonna/ Deadly Nightshade/ Amaryllis (toxic honey)
Henbane/Stinking Nightshade (toxic honey)
Serjania Lethalis (from Brazil; (toxic honey)
Tutu bushes/ Coriaria Arborea --found in New Zealand --(toxic honey)
Vine Hopper Insect (feeds on Tutu bushes) -- in New Zealand --(toxic honey)
Oleander (toxic honey)


A note about this list:

I am unaware if these toxicities are in honey made exclusively from these plants, or if they result when the above plants are a primary nectar/pollen/forage source rather than being a safer part of a more diverse whole. I'm also not a bee-keeper, yet. I'm aware there are mountain laurels and rhododendrons in the wild in areas where there has never been any negative report of compromised honey or ill effects on bees. I also consider the internet sources a jumping-off place to do further specific research, and don't recommend banning OR embracing a recommendation based solely on something found on a webpage. It's simply a starting place. Do NOT rely on my toxic list above as your guide in what to avoid for bees...it's here as a jumping-off place to raise a possible concern. Each individual is responsible to do more complete research for their own health concerns and that of their bees. I list here only in order for us to compare notes and highlight possible concerns in network-fashion.

If you know of any plants missing from either list, I'd love to know them and add them to our resource book. We're compiling a looseleaf book for different homestead categories as a ready note-taking and comparison tool, and it'll be a work in progress.

It will be fun when we can actually get started keeping honeybees, hopefully in the not-too-distant future.

As we choose flowers for our garden, and incorporating many of them potage-style side by side with the veggies and berries, the very first ones we'll bear in mind will be the ones bees love.


Future lists to come...
Beneficial insect plants
Edible Flowers
Fragrance Plants
Medicinals
Companion Plants
Trap crops
Green manures
Forages/feed supplements for livestock and poultry
Pest Repellant Plants
Holistic Animal Care Plants

8 comments:

Carolyn said...

Good information

Razor Family Farms said...

This is such a terrific and informative post! I love looking through seed catalogs, too!

Are you like me and can scarcely keep from climbing the backyard fence of stranger's homes just to see their gardens?

Blessings!
Lacy

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The W.O.W. factor said...

I love flowers & all that grows too. My long winter days are spent in my huge "library" of gardening/plant books....learning & planning for the new Spring to come~ for tending the Earth. Lots of good info here! Thanks! Will be back!

Gina said...

Thanks for the list-really helpful!

Anonymous said...

Hi

I wonder if the plant called
Jatropha Integerrima is also a no no for bees. It is also called the Peregrina.

So far all I can see is that the fruit, sap and leaves are poisonous.. I dont know if the nectar is. My bees love it and now I am worried the honey might be bad.

Thanks..

Fern said...

" forgive the repetition of some of the things on the list...I compiled it from various sources and have to fine-tune it yet"

Thanks, that explains it! I was beginning to picture you as a distracted mad scientist gardener, so happy about all the options you forgot certain ones were already down! But now I recognize that phenomenon from my own research projects. This is a lovely list you have provided. Also, I have had that same experience about my husband expressing an interest in growing something being kind of a dangerous encouragement.....

Btw, one easy way to take care of most of the repetition is to copy the list into a spreadsheet, then sort the column alphabetically so similarly spelled reps are grouped. If the list doesn't copy into the cells correctly, try intermediate step of copying into a plain text file.

Anonymous said...

I am just starting my first beehive, and was told at a workshop that golden rod makes poor-tasting honey. Not toxic, just not tasty. I think they said something like "tastes like gym socks!" I too wonder about small amounts of rhododendron, azalea, and laurel nectar - these are my favorite shrubs!
Loved your list; thanks!
Eve