Plants for honey bees

northey-honey

It is important to encourage bees to our gardens, so that they can help pollinate our fruit and vegetables. The best plants to grow are nectar-producing natives and flowering plants such as basil, borage, catmint, coriander, cornflowers, fennel, garlic chives, heather, hyssop, lavender (heirloom varieties), lemon balm, marigolds, mint, rosemary, scabious and sea holly, thyme.

Jerry Coleby-Williams recommends growing begonias, blue ginger, pigeon peas and salvias to encourage the native Blue Banded bees. He also says:

There’s a lot more I’d recommend, but one crop that is often overlooked is corn – for its pollen.

I’ve planted Eucalyptus tereticornis and Melaleuca leucadendron in my street for honeybees.

I use ‘Honey Flora of Qld’, by S.T. Blake & C. Roff, published by DPI Qld, ISBN 0-7242-2371-1″>0-7242-2371-1 as a standard reference book.

If you aim for a variety of different plants which flower at different times of the year, you’ll have more success with encouraging bees.

Northey Street City Farm honey

Getting started in Honey Bees

We were interested in keeping bees, so I decided to do a little research. We attended an “Introduction to Natural Beekeeping” course by Tim Auld from All You Can Eat Gardens. It was great to see a top bar bee hive in action.

Natural beekeeping is based on the principles:

  1. Interference in the natural lives of the bees is kept to a minimum
  2. Nothing is put into the hive that is known to be, or likely to be harmful either to the bees, to us or to the wider environment and nothing is taken out that the bees cannot afford to lose.
  3. The bees know what they are doing: our job  is to listen to them and provide the optimum conditions for their well-being.

He recommends the following books:

You will need the following equipment:

  • Hive
  • Smoker
  • Hive tool
  • Protective clothing
  • Extractors – expensive, but can be hired when you need the honey

Tim Auld sells top bar bee hives.

You can buy these altogether as a package to save some money. Suggested suppliers include:

In Queensland, you need to register your hive with the Department of Primary Industries. You are  only allowed 2 hives per 1000m2.

Books and resources