A Culinary Garden for BEE and Me
Image above: honeybee on a chive flower
We rarely see herbs in their flowering state, so few people know how colorful and magnificent they are.
You can provide nectar for bees three-quarters of the year by keeping track of flowering times and ensuring you have some overlaps from a seasonal point of view. Since the culinary herbs mentioned below flower at different times of the year, except in winter when bees don’t forage anyway, this is a nice guide to help you know what is flowering and when. It will serve you and your local bees.
Here's a 2:21-minute long video helping you understand the bond between herbs and bees:
Spring: borage, bugleweed, chives, rosemary, sage
Early Summer: borage, bugleweed, hyssop, rosemary, lavender, oregano, horehound, lemon balm, peppermint, catmint, chives, sage, savory, thyme
Mid-Summer: Korean mint, lavender, hyssop, horehound, lemon balm, peppermint, borage, bee balm (bergamot), catmint, chives, oregano, savory, thyme, marjoram, fennel, rosemary, sage
Late Summer: borage, Korean mint, horehound, hyssop, lavender, lemon balm, peppermint, bee balm (bergamot), catmint, chives, basil, marjoram, oregano, fennel, rosemary, Russian sage, sage, savory, thyme
Autumn: Korean mint, borage, bee balm (bergamot), catmint, hyssop, marjoram, rosemary, Russian sage
Winter: rosemary (only in some climates)
This video is just over 8 minutes long but is outstanding if you want to plant your own culinary herb garden:
The plants recommended for your culinary garden are sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, peppermint, spearmint, basil, lemon balm, bee balm, catnip/catmint, lavender, savory, Russian sage and horehound. They will provide nectar and pollen for bees throughout the year.
Many of these are aromatic and can have colorful or variegated foliage, like Solenostemon (coleus) and some Salvia (sage). Some, especially in the Monarda species, have beautiful flowers that even attract hummingbirds. Others can have small flowers in spiky clusters. Members of this family have leaves in opposite pairs with square stems.
Origanum (oregano) is a “sure thing” for luring all kinds of bees to your garden if you want to take great photos of them foraging. They literally swarm to Agastache (Korean mint), they love the nectar so much. Borage refills with nectar every two minutes, much to a bee's delight. With approximately 7,000 species in the mint family that are divided into 236 genera, it’s handy to know a few of the most popular ones with bees.
Go for choices that are easy to acquire and grow and are attractive to pollinators. Take your local climate and growing conditions into account, as well as the amount of flowering time each offers, whether they produce a decent amount of nectar, and whether they overwinter well, or if you will need to take them indoors.
Not only do these herbs please bees, they will please you too... fresh sage in a pan with sausages, basil mayonnaise with asparagus, fresh chives on roasted potatoes... these are but a few of the countless subtle and exquisite flavors that will please your palate.
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