By Sy Maher
Bees love herbs. Choose the right herbs and bees will spend hours buzzing in the yard. After the danger of frost in January and February it is a good time to begin an herb garden. Growing fresh herbs for cooking is good for you and is good for the bees. Win, win. They pollinate a good deal of our plants and flowers. That feeds them-they feed us.
If you are not planting directly into the earth, there is a host of items to upcycle that make great planters. You can use old jars, purses, and pocket shoe holders, place little pots on a ladder, utilize an old wooden chair. Just about anything that will hold planting soil will do. The sky is the limit when adding decorative containers on the patio or anywhere in the yard.
The picture above shows an excellent example of repurposing old items. People everywhere are utilizing exciting materials to create their own upcycled and unique garden.
At my house bees get interested when Borage, Rosemary, Oregano, Lavender, Basil, or Garlic Chives are growing.
Tip-Never use chemicals on plants in bloom!
Borage: Also identified as starflower, bee bush, bee bread, and bugloss, is a medicinal herb with edible leaves and flowers. Put the flowers in water and freeze in an ice cube tray. Put it in a favorite cold beverage like tea or lemonade. It is lovely to see it floating and clinking around a glass in its icy chamber. Add it to a salad for flavor and color. If you are a patron of companion gardening, you can use it to drive away horned worms. This plant is an open invitation for bees to forage in the garden.
Rosemary: This herb can even be grown in a pot and trimmed like a bonsai! At my house, the bees are constantly buzzing around the rosemary which I let grow into a big friendly bush. Flowering it produces a lovely white blossom which is sometimes seen with blue to slight purple tips. This herb tastes delicious on poultry and in soups.
Oregano: Researchers have discovered that this plant is good for bee health. The flowers can be white to light purple or lilac-pink. Not only does oregano help the bees health but an infusion of oregano can be taken to aid symptoms in case of colds, coughs, and asthma. Let’s not forget how it tastes in our food either. Especially pizza! Yum.
Lavender: Bees, love, love, love lavender. Lavender grows so abundant that in some parts of the world it is considered a weed. Keep this in mind when picking out a type of lavender. Do you want it to reseed in plenty? Because the wrong plant for your needs can and will take over your garden. In food, it is used in salad dressings, beverages, and teas. It is well known for its healing and mind-soothing powers.
Sweet Basil: Medicinally, Basil has been used as an antioxidant and antimicrobial and often made into therapeutic grade essential oils. But in mama’s kitchen, it’s in the tomato sauce and many other dishes. While we love basil for cooking, salads, and for making pesto; we want to try to keep this herb in an endless state of leaf harvest. Those little flower tops must be continuously pinched off. Just plant a few sweet basil and let it flower just for the bees.
Garlic Chives: The leaves of garlic chives grow twice as large as regular chives and sought after for its flatter, wider leaves. They do well in flower beds and grow up to twenty inches tall. Garlic chives can be evergreen in areas where winters are mild. If you want more bees in the garden, this herb will bring them. Sprays of sparkling, white flowers on top of slender green stems display a lovely crisp bloom until the end of summer. These chives can be cooked, or eaten raw. The taste is mild, and somewhere in-between the flavor of garlic and onion. They are often used to flavor seafood dishes, in Asian recipes, salads and of course, on top of a potato. The unopened flowers are edible. They can be enjoyed raw or cooked. Bees love this flower as much as we love the garlic chives.
We at Luckey Bee Farms would love to hear about your upcycled gardens and herb use. Drop us a note on what you like to cook with, and what brings bees into your yards.
Garlic Chive with Bee by CC0 Creative Commons https://pixabay.com/en/bee-flower-pollen-garden-insect-935260/
Footwear, Tredegar House and Country Park, Duffryn © Copyright Brian Robert Marshall and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/5528394