Flower bulbs for bees and bumblebees
Did you know that the first bees and bumblebees fly out as early as February? This is when they wake up from hibernation, and rush out hungrily to find food. Help these important insects by planting flower bulbs now.
With flower bulbs, you can experience spring very early on thanks to buzzing and fluttering insects. But which flower bulbs are the most suitable? Some bulbs produce more food for bees than others. And the pollen of certain flowers is easier to reach than others. Always try to choose pollen bombs with open flowers. It's also a good idea to spread the flowering times, so that the bees can feast for months on end. This selection of flower bulbs is known for producing lots of nectar and pollen:
- Grape hyacinth (Muscari)
- Wood Anemone (Anemone nemerosa)
- Bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta)
- Botanical tulips (Tulipa)
- Sicilian honey garlic (Netaroscordum siculum)
- Garden star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum)
- Crocus (Crocus), botanical and large-flowered
- Balkan anemone (Anemone blanda)
- Allium (Allium giganteum, moly and sphaerocephalon)
- Snowdrops (Galanthus)
- Glory-of-the-Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae and sardensis)
- Scilla (Scilla bifolia and siberica)
- Winter aconite (Eranthis)
- Summer Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum)
The right spot
Once you have chosen your flower bulbs and they are ready to be planted, choose a spot in the garden with humus-rich soil, in the half-shade. Botanical tulips are the exception, because they like plenty of sunshine. Sun promotes the production of pollen and nectar. What's more, flowers diffuse a stronger scent in the sun, so that the bees and bumblebees can find them more easily. Areas around trees or places where leaves are left in winter are perfect spots, because the humidity promotes the production of new seeds.
From early spring to late fall, bees and bumblebees live off nectar. Nectar is a sweet, syrupy liquid that is rich in sugar. You can see it in the heart or on the outside of the flower. It looks like water, but it is sticky to the touch. The sugars in nectar give the insects the energy they need to move. In addition to sugars, nectar contains protein and vitamins. Honeybees also collect nectar, but they use it to make honey. This honey is an important food source for the bee colony.
Honeybees, wild bees and bumblebees collect pollen from flowers in addition to nectar. They use it to feed the larvae. Pollen is created in the flower's male germ cells. It looks like fine powder. Every flower produces a different color of pollen; from yellow to red, but sometimes also purple, white, and brown. Regardless of its color, all pollen contains protein, fat and vitamins. When collecting pollen, bees pollinate flowers at the same time.
- If they are unable to get to the nectar, bumblebees have a useful extra weapon! They throw their weight into the fray to open the flower.
- Some bumblebees, like the buff-tailed bumblebee, make a hole in the side of flowers to get to the nectar.
- Bees and bumblebees have a preference for white, yellow, and blue flowers.
- Many flowers have spots and stripes. These acts as a signpost to the nectar for our little friends, with the message ‘this way for nectar!’
- Bees and bumblebees have special pollen baskets on their hind legs to transport pollen.
- The amount of nectar a plant produces varies throughout the day. This is affected by moisture and sunlight.