This summer I have been blessed with more native bees in my garden then I have ever seen before. In particular, the blue banded bee (my favourite), which I regularly observe all through the day buzzing around the flowers. This could be because I'm more in tune with 'bee watching' but while this may be true I also think it is due to the type of flowering plants that I have at the moment. In this blog I'll list the ones that attract the most blue banded bees but also, with a nod to permaculture, discuss the multiple uses each plant has.
Basil. An obvious and proven bee magnet. Here I've planted a basil mix where Cinnamon Basil has been the most successful and flowered first. Really only two main uses for this herb but it does them so well I think every gardener should be growing at least one variety of basil.
Catnip. I grew this to make a relaxing herbal tea but in the end I find the tea not to my taste. None of the plants flowered until I moved this one into full sun. The bees love it. Makes me think I will have similar success with Lemon Balm (also called Melissa which is apparently Greek for honey bee) which I haven't had flower yet. Apart from the most known use of catnip as a cat drug (no I haven't seen any cats near the plants) I often crush the leaves and rub them into my skin as an effective mosquito repellent.
Daikon Radish. This was a little unexpected. I managed to acquire a couple of seeds of this vegetable and thus grew this plant to harvest its seed. As you can see is it is doing well but in the process it has become a busy place for all kinds of pollinators. Apart from food (root and leaves) it also can be used to break up clay soils. I will be looking forward to growing more of these vegetables.
Moringa. One of my favourite vegetables. This one has been flowering for months and despite having white flowers is popular with the blue banded bees. Uses - too many to list here but I'm sure most people know them already or can easily find out by doing a quick google search.
Siberian Motherwort (Leonurus Sibiricus). As with most of the Leonurus genus of plants this variety has medicinal properties and in particular this one imparts a calming/relaxation effect when drunk as a tea. Unlike the more commonly known Lions tail (Leonotis Leonurus) this is a real bee attractor and a favourite with the blue banded bees.
Purple Heart (Tradescantia Pallida). Yes this plant is not edible and part of the dreaded 'trad' genus but in my experience it is not invasive and easily controlled. The blue banded bees love the flowers, which the plant does most of the year, makes a easy to grow ground cover and can be used as mulch when it gets too big. I use this plant as a constant food supply for the blue banded bees.
Celosia. Actually I've never seen a bee on this plant but it such a pretty and distinctive flower that I thought I would include it just for its ornamental value. Also, it is small and has edible leaves.
Interesting I haven't seen that many European bees on the above flowering plants and thought this may be because they are scarce in my area. But in other parts of my garden they are swarming on the flowering lilly pillies and previously on the flowering Leucania and Weeping Paperbark. So they are just discerning.
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