The honeybee can be regarded as a vegetarian wasp The honeybee diverged from its ancestral food source early in its evolution so that it exists now entirely on flowering plants. Honeybees collect pollen as a source of protein to build and repair body tissues and nectar as a source of carbohydrate for energy. The nectar is converted by enzyme reduction into honey which is sealed into wax cells and forms a food reserve. The honeybee is the only species of bee that over-winters as a whole colony and is the reason why is honey is stored in quantity to provide a food source when there are no flowering plants. Compared to bumblebees, the honeybee has a relatively short tongue so does best on small simple flowers.
All bees need flowers throughout the season so a succession of flowers is essential from February through to September. Deciduous trees offer a huge source of pollen and nectar concentrated in a small area, however the supply from this source is seasonal. Fortunately, there are some plants such as dandelion which are common and widespread and flower throughout the year to provide year-round support. A major obstacle to continued honeybee health is the wholescale agricultural practice of mono-culture. Even if the crop is a floriferous one, such as Oil Seed Rape, the boom and bust appearance of the plant provides an excess for three weeks of the year followed by a virtual desert contributing to the collapse of the colony. The honeybee requires a succession of blooms and a variety of pollens to provide a range of vitamins so it is important that as many of us who can, provide as many bee-friendly plants in our gardens as possible Click on the bee plants list below to discover a few plants that are common, easy to grow and loved by honeybees.