Where I live, for the past two months it's been about five degrees (Fahrenheit) in the mornings, and the 'warmest' it's gotten is about twenty eight. Not the most enjoyable weather to be in. Especially when you're walking up the path to school, with the slippery ice just daring you to fall, and the harsh winds pinching the tips of your ears.
Luckily, with the first day of spring right around the corner, the weather has been warming up. Soon, blankets of green will cover the now bare trees, the grass will wake up from hibernation, and the flowers will show their beautiful colors in full bloom.
And in anticipation of all the wonderful changes that happen around this time of year, all of the trees becoming full of leaves, and the flowers starting to bloom, I have decided to focus on a list of trees that are great for bees.
1. The American basswood tree
The Basswood tree, also known as the American Linden, is a medium to large sized tree that can reach heights from (18 to 37 m). Its flowers come in clusters, and they are small, pale yellow flowers that can be quite fragrant. These flowers later become clusters of pea-sized nutlets. The leaves are 4- to 8-inches, heart-shaped, and coarse-toothed, featuring darker green above and a paler green below. The American basswood attracts many pollinators when in full bloom (during the summer), which is great because it is one of the best nectar producers out there.
2. Chokecherry (Prunus Virginiana) trees
The Chokecherry is a small tree which grows 20 to 30 ft. tall, and often forms thickets. It has dense clusters of white flowers when in bloom, and those turn into a red fruit (that ripens to dark purple). The fruits can ripen from August to September in the north, or from June to August in the south. As the name 'chokecherry' suggests, the fruits can be described as puckery, especially when immature or raw. However, they can be made into preserves and jelly. Apart from attracting bees, the Chokecherry also attracts butterflies.
3. Fruit trees
Fruit trees are great for bees. These may include plums, apples, peaches, and pears, because they are great food sources for bees. Fruit trees can provide both nectar and pollen to foraging bees in the spring and early summer, while also providing fruit in late summer and early fall, so they are useful for you and the bees. However, you might want to be careful because fruit trees that self pollinate are not as attractive to bees.
4. Tupelo trees
Tupelo trees are divided into males and females. Male trees have only staminate flowers (flowers that only have stamens), with a lot of nectar. The abundance of nectar production on these male trees cause bees are extremely active, during the flowering period. Tupelo honey is also a great perk that comes from this tree. The truest, rawest form of the honey can be incredibly expensive. It is well known by beekeepers all around, and in order to prove that it is, in fact, pure tupelo honey, it needs to be certified by pollen analysis.
5. Magnolia trees
The magnolia is a symbol of the South. It has showy, fragrant flowers can span a foot or more across. Even though these trees are associated with beetle pollinators, bas won't hesitate to look their way. If you are looking to plant this tree, but you don't live in the deep South, try planting sweetbay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) instead. The native range of M. virginiana extends as far north as New York.
I had so much fun researching these five wonderful, beautiful, and sweet smelling trees for bees. Hopefully you've learned about a species of tree that you would consider planting in your own yard.
Until next time!