Pollinator Plants

 Borage  (Borago officinalis)

How is it beneficial to honeybees?

Nectar secretion from borage flowers begins at the loose bud stage and lasts throughout the entire life of the flower.   The average number of flowers on a single borage plant iss a whopping 953 single flowers!   The average life of each single flower is 21.2 hours and plants have an average flowering time of 56 days.

Average offering per single Borage flower

Nectar  4 mg

Pollen   1.1 mg

During the growing season, on average, a single borage plant can supply insects with 1.1g of nectar sugars (total sugar content derived from the nectar) and 1.1g of pollen.  

A single square meter of borage crop can supply on average 5.2g of nectar sugar (total sugar content derived from the nectar) and the same weight of pollen

**from a study published in 2019 by Stawiarz 

Growing borage for bees

Choose a well-drained, sunny spot for best results  

You can grow this plant easily from seed sown directly into soil in Spring.  They have deep roots, so make sure you choose a spot where they won't be disturbed.  

They require full sun and well-drained soil.  

In Pennslyvania (zone 6b)  Borage is treated like an annual.  It can be dug up at the end of the season and composted.

Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)

Planted in full or partial sun and mesic to dry conditions, this perennial grows 3 to 5 feet tall and is planted 12 to 24 inches apart in well-drained soil. The foliage has an anise or licorice scent and can be used as a flavoring in salads and teas. Seeds can be used in cookies cakes and muffins. The upper stems terminate in spikes of flowers that can come in many colors about 3-6" long. The small flowers are arranged in dense whorls that are crowded along the spike and the flowers are replaced by smooth, oval-shaped nutlets. Flowering starts, even in unfavorable summers, in late July and continues until late autumn. The plants will self-seed in the garden and usually overwinter well if the soil is well-drained. Anise hyssop will attract bees, butterflies and/or birds to the garden. If you decide to propagate this plant, division can be done in spring or fall.

No serious insect or disease problems. Crown/root rot may develop in poorly drained soils. Watch for rust, powdery mildew and leaf spots.

Amount of nectar in each flower will vary depending on time of year and time of day.  When in peak bloom (July and August) and during the afternoon flowers tend to have the most nectar according to a study reported in a 1994 issue of American Bee Journal.

Drumstick Allium  (Allium sphaerocephalon )

This plant is a bee magnet.  They are full of nectar and pollen with tons of tiny flowers.

Grows zones 4-8 in full sun  DrDrumsticks are a good option if you have a spot in the garden that doesn’t get much water. They can handle a bit of drought, though they prefer a medium amount of irrigation.  Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out before you water again.

The flowers will start to bloom in July, usually a bit after other ornamental alliums  have started blossoming.  Once the flowers fade, you can snip off the heads to discourage reseeding, or keep them in place for visual interest in the fall garden. As an added plus, many varieties of wild birds like to eat them.

The plants can get a bit top heavy and may start tipping over, particularly if it’s windy in your area. If that happens, you can place cages that reach halfway up the height of the mature plant.

Pests: Allium leaf miner, fungus if overcrowded