Bees and More

Help the Honey Bee

Honey bees make gardens and farms more abundant by pollinating the flowers of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and ornamentals. Help honey bees with these simple steps.

  • Honey bees especially like flowers in the mint, aster, pea, and rose families.
    Choose a mix of plants for continuous bloom so bees will have good forage from early spring through late fall. Plant both perennials and annuals.
  • Flowers provide bees with pollen (for protein) and nectar (for making honey). Flowers with a shallow shape (like a daisy) or tubular shape (like salvia) make it easier for bees to gather nectar and pollen.
  • Bees practice “flower fidelity,” foraging on one plant species at a time. Grow a single type of flower in a cluster of at least one-square meter to make it easier for bees to locate the flowers and to reduce the effort of flying.
  • Bees need a reliable source of clean water all year long. To prevent bees from drowning, choose a shallow container with sloping sides.
  • Add pebbles for landing on if needed.
  • Try to eliminate pesticides and herbicides in your home and garden. Those marked “organic” are not necessarily safe for bees.
  • If you do spray, apply at dawn or dusk when bees are in the hive; use the least amount of the least toxic substance, and use one that dissipates within hours. This might reduce exposure.
  • Check the Integrated Pest Management website at UC Davis for more information. www.ipm.ucdavis.edu
  • Some growers sell plants and seeds that have been chemically treated, which can be harmful to bees. Ask for non-treated varieties.
  • “Designer” cultivars in unusual colors and shapes can confuse bees seeking nectar and pollen and may have inferior nutritional value.
  • In general, old-fashioned flowers are best for bees.

Plant These to Help Honey Bees

Achillea millefolium Yarrow
Agastache spp. Mint
Arctostaphylos Manzanita
Borago officinalis Borage
Calamintha spp. Calamint
Campanula Bellflower
Caryopteris incana Bluebeard
Caryopteris x clandonensis Blue Mist
Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point’ and ‘RayHartman’ Wild lilac
Citrus
Clarkia unguiculata Elegant Clarkia
Coreopsis grandiflora
Cosmos bipinnatus &Cosmos sulphureus Cosmos
Cucurbitaceae Pumpkin, Squash, Zucchini
Duranta erecta Skyflower
Echium candicans Pride of Madeira
Echium plantagiuneum Salvation Jane
Encelia californica Bush Sunflower
Erigeron glaucus “Wayne Roderick” Seaside Daisy
Eriogonum fasciculatum California buckwheat
Eriogonum nudum Buckwheat
Eryngium spp. Sea Holly
Eschscholzia californica California Poppy
Foeniculum vulgare Fennel
Fruit trees
Gaillardia x grandiflora Gaillardia “Oranges & Lemons”
Gilia achilleifolia California Gilia
Gilia capitata Globe Gilia
Grindelia hirsutula Hairy Gum Plant
Grindelia stricta Gum Plant
Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’ Mardi Gras Aster
Helianthus annuus Sunflower
Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’ Lemon Queen Aster
Lavandula spp. Lavender
Layia platyglossa Tidytips
Linaria purpurea Toadflax
Lotus scoparius Deerweed
Madia elegans densiflora Elegant Madia Aster
Mahonia aquifolium Oregon Grape
Marrubium vulgare Horehound
Mentha spicata Spearmint
Monarda Bee Balm
Nepeta x faassenii Catmint
Nepeta spp. Catnip
Origanum spp. Oregano
Pelargonium graveolens Scented Geranium
Perovskia atriplicifolia Russian Sage
Phacelia grandiflora Large-flower Bluebell
Phacelia minor California Bluebell
Phacelia tanacetifolia Tansy (Pollen is purple)
Rosmarinus officinalis Rosemary
Salvia brandegeei Brandegee Sage
Salvia chamaedryoides Germander Sage
Salvia greggii Autumn Sage
Salvia ‘Indigo Spires’
Salvia mellifera Black Sage
Salvia uliginosa Bog Sage
Scabiosa atropurpurea Pincushion flower
Sedum Stone Crop
Senecio cineraria Dusty Miller
Solidago californica Goldenrod
Thymus Thyme
Verbena lasiostachys Western Verbena
Vitex agnus-castus Chaste Tree
Zinnia elegans Zinnia
Source: University of California, Urban Bee Lab, and the Mt. Diablo Beekeepers Association

Find out more at: UC Berkeley’s Urban Bee Lab www.helpabee.org
The Pollinator Partnership www.pollinator.org
UC Davis Haagen Dazs Honey Bee Haven http://hhbhgarden.ucdavis.edu/

Calendar for New Beekeepers in the Mt. Diablo Region

March-April

A good time to get started with a bee package, nuc, split, or captured swarm

March-April

Take steps to prevent swarms in established hives

May-June

Spring nectar flow is on, harvest honey & establish colonies

May-June

Harvest surplus honey from established colonies during this time

Swarming continues; active management prevents swarms & lost bees

July-Aug

Monitor for starvation, especially in drought conditions

July-Aug

Monitor for starvation

Make sure bees have enough pollen and nectar and take the necessary steps to keep bees healthy

Aug-Sept

Some areas experience a late summer nectar flow, time to harvest

Aug-Sept

Harvest honey during this time, leave enough for the bees

Varroa mites can overwhelm a colony

October

Prepare hives for winter, ventilate to prevent condensation

October

Remove honey supers and reduce hive to brood boxes
Six frames full of bees, stored honey and pollen needed to survive winter

Nov-Dec

Try not to open hives in cold weather

Nov-Dec

if you must open the hive, do so in the morning so bees have time to build up body heat before nightfall

Jan-Feb-March

Monitor for starvation, pests, and disease

Jan-Feb-March

Monitor for starvation, pests, and disease

Ongoing

Monitor colony for pests and disease; treat/intervene as needed

Ongoing

Provide constant water source

Add or remove supers as colony population and honey production fluctuate

Basic Beekeeping Books

Links and Resources