I recently visited the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association (NCSBA) website and previewed the plants they say are growing in the Piedmont (Our corner of the world.).
At first glance I am pleased that J. Ambrose with the NC. Cooperatiive Extension Service had put this table together. It is a wonderful quick reference of knowing what to plant, when to expect it to bloom, and for how long. J. Ambrose and NCSBA do stand by solid research. I appreciate this important attention to detail.
Upon closer inspection, the table became complicated and textural — to me. Being a visual learner I couldn’t tell (easily) which plants blooming cycle overlapped and which one’s didn’t; which ones were cool weather plants and which were heat/drout survivors. (Yes, I’m new to gardening, too; but I’m learning.)
We’re also new to the bee world and are still preparing our property to care for them. Although we’re surrounced by miles and miles of forest, I’m quite sure the little ladies could find plenty of pollen and nectar throughout most of the year. However, we want to help them as much as possible to stay heathy, alive, and here.
So, I took the NCSBA’s table and turned it into a floating bar chart so I could visualize the plants association with each another. This chart tells me at a glance what time of year has the most blooms, the least blooms, the most overlapping blooms and no blooms at all.
It tells me which plants bloom the longest compared ot the shortest blooming time. Do I want to even bother with short blooming plants? Probably not.
I for sure want alsike clover (102 days), white clover (102 days), smartweed (126 days) and sumac (151 days). They bloom over 100 days. I more than likely will not plant black locust (10 days), persimmon (13 days) , black gum (14 days) or holly (15 days); at least not for their supply of nectar or pollen. Which is contrary to my goal.
We have plenty of dandelion (60 days). Not a problem. Now I can just leave it alone.
I now know that I have to step up my feeding program between August and February. Or, at the very least, my bee care changes during the winter months. Yes, I already knew this but the blooming schedule proves it — again. Mother Nature is incredible, isn’t she?
For you other visual learners out here, attached is the floating bar chart depicting the Honey Plants in North Carolina.
Hope this helps you care for your bees.Select the link (in bold) below.
Pat Allen, SCBA