heirloom vs hybrid plants for attracting bees

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by frecklebee, May 27, 2012.

  1. frecklebee

    frecklebee New Member

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    I read somewhere that when choosing plants for attracting bees it's best to use heirloom varieties not hybrids,could anyone expound on this please?

    Thanks to all of you for making this site awesome,i'm learning so much,although I think the more I learn the more confused I get.:???:But it's a good confused.

    Red
     
  2. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Sometimes, hybrid flowers can produce less nectar and less pollen than the same plant in an heirloom version. But that's mostly only the case in F1 hybrids. Many flowers are actually hybrids, that's why you can go and buy Purple Sweet Peas or Pink Sweet Peas specifically, they've been bred to have that color flower.
    Most have been through at least 12 generations so actually do breed true, they just haven't been in existence as a variety long enough to be called an 'heirloom' seed. I tend to just avoid F1 hybrids in anything I plant, whether it's for the bees or for me, because I save seed.

    Bees tend to like blue and purple flowers best, but really will go after anything that produces a lot of nectar. The daisy family generally attract bees, and they love sunflowers. Here in Colorado Springs they go NUTS over bachelor buttons, cupid's dart and the flowers on various herbs, sage and mint and oregano. There are three huge sages in my community garden that are in flower right now, and they are just mobbed by ladies every day.

    I had a huge mint patch (yay mojitos!) in my old house where I started keeping, and the ladies loved the mint. Every now and then I'd get a taste of some honey in my hive that had a distinct mint undertone to it!
     

  3. frecklebee

    frecklebee New Member

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    Thanks Heinleinfan,I was going to search some more for bee friendly flowers ,you added to my list.

    Red
     
  4. Yucca Patrol

    Yucca Patrol New Member

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    Many ornamental garden flowers have been bred to be "doubles", which means that these flowers produce more petals instead of the nectar/pollen producing parts of the flowers. People think they look pretty like this, but they provide nothing to the bees.
     
  5. vermillion

    vermillion New Member

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    Just wanted to add that a lot of sunflowers are hybrids, bred to be pollenless so as to work better in arrangements. Lemon Queen, maximillian, mammoth are some that have pollen. Many do not.

    I have a Thai basil in my yard that has long flower stalks, rather than the clumpy dense flower stalks of the thai basil I usually see for sale. The bees are crazy about this basil, and the plant seems to double in size every week!