Although it may not seem like it — especially here in northern Wisconsin — honey bees are ramping up in March. They are flying on warmer days, foraging and “cleansing” flights. What could they possibly be foraging you ask? It’s a tough world out there but they manage to find maple and willow trees. And if they are really lucky, henbit and deadnettle.
The queen is also ramping up on her brood rearing. With the increase in pollen the workers are bringing back to the hive, the queen knows that she can lay more. Pollen is a staple for the honey bee. If you feel that there are not adequate pollen sources where you live, you can supplement with a pollen substitute.
If you don’t have honey bees but would like to contribute to their foraging needs, Wikipedia has a wonderful page titled “Northern American Nectar Sources for Honey Bees.” This page has everything from trees and shrubs to flowers, crops, herbs and grasses. Another environmentally friendly thing to do would be to not spray your yard with chemicals. These chemicals have a devastating effect on the honey bee. Chemicals even show up in the honey comb!
If you would like to plant any of the suggestions from Wikipedia, here are some tips from the WI DNR that can help:
- It’s good to have diversity of plants that flower all season. A season is typically from March through October.
- Small patches are better than nothing.
- Choosing several different flower colors is also helpful. Bees like blue, purple, violet, white and yellow blooms.
- Planting your flowers in clumps is something that attracts honey bees more than individual blooms.
- Flowers with different shapes and sizes are also suggested.
Did you know? The European Honey Bee, apis mellifera, in 1977 was named the Wisconsin State insect even though it’s not native to Wisconsin.
Happy planting! Until next time, “bee” happy!