What makes Birds of the Muses Honey award winning? The nectar from the many flowers the bees have available in the yards. Here are just a few that stand out. Note all pictures are from my bee yards and of my very own bees:
Categorized as an “invasive species (sadly as I will have to get rid of it eventually)” This brilliant plant is arguably THE reason my honey is award winning. Once it starts blooming it produces an abundance of nectar for much of the season that the bees go mad for. It comes in an amazing array of beautiful colors and deer do not touch it. This is by far the best wildflower I have growing on the acres around me.
Cousin to Bugloss this slightly more fickle edible plant is well known for it’s exquisite nectar. With human intervention it can be as giving as Bugloss. The beautiful flowers come in blue pink and white and like honeysuckle can be plucked off for a tasty sweet treat. The young leaves are great in salads as they have a cucumber flavor. The older leaves can be made into a tea that pairs perfectly with my honey.
PHACELIA TANACETIFOLIA) related to Borage this phenomenal nectar producer shocked me this year (2020)! A beekeeper knows what’s in bloom producing nectar and what the bees prefer and this year this was the plant! When normally their #1 go to is the Bugloss, they actually ignored it in favor of Bees Friend! This lovely soft looking flower overtook my wildflower garden rendering it a monoculture but seeing how mad the bees were for it I didn’t mind so much (though it will needs it’s own area in future years). It started blooming mid spring and didn’t end till early fall, it is truly an ultimate bee flower and the nectar from it is just as exquisite as Bugloss and Borage!
This vine is a legume and is used as a cover crop to fix nitrogen in the soil. It is a very hardy annual that comes back year after year and as long as there is even a little bit of moisture around produces an abundance of valuable nectar that the bees adore. This nectar is an earlier nectar so contributes significantly to the soft sweet taste of my honey.
One of a few backyard favorites people put in their gardens this lovely plant comes in many wonderful colors including this stunning blue. Farmers in the area surround their land with this native flower to help feed and attract the pollinators in my area as it is a fairly long lived plant that produces nectar with no effort on their part. This self seeding annual is hardy and can grow almost anywhere making it a choice nectar source in the spring to early summer. Put it in a garden and add water and it can continue blooming till the frost comes! If “bees friend” isn’t blooming yet my bees will utilize this nectar source but once “bees friend” is blooming bachelor button is left to the native bees and wasps.
This drought tolerant plant thrives in my low desert environment. Once established it is off to the races and produces quality nectar in the summer. Pure lavender honey is phenomenal and is an added ingredient that helps make my honey award winning!
Grass is great if you like outdoor carpet but it is not practical especially if you are a beekeeper. I am slowly removing the grass in favor of cover crops and clover is one. It is the gift that keeps on giving throughout the year and helps choke out grasses and weeds which makes the bees and I very happy. Though clover honey is about as plain and generic as it gets, it is a very valuable source of forage for all pollinators. Bonus, I get tons of 4-leaf clovers from it too so one could probably say I have “lucky bees!”
*more photos to come starting in the spring*