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Why plant honey plants and flowers for bees?

Since the Second World War, we are witnessing the disappearance of the flora little by little. The industrial revolution and the demographic expansion are the main causes. Indeed, the process of urbanization leads to significant impacts on the environment, particularly on the fauna and flora. Through the urbanization of the territories, humans have a large responsibility in the modification and destruction of natural areas, pollution, water contamination or in the abandonment of traditional methods of agriculture. Even if the evolution of our territories and the great advances made since the Second World War have been beneficial, it remains that all this strongly harms the nature that surrounds us.
Today, generating biodiversity and minimizing impacts on it is essential. By choosing to plant melliferous plants in your garden, you contribute to the maintenance of pollinating insects. Indeed, they pollinate flowers and thus generate biodiversity.

 

What is a honey plant?

Melliferous plants, also called nectariferous plants, are flowers, plants and trees that bees come to feed on and produce their honey. They contain pollen, nectar, propolis and honeydew. They are numerous, they can be found in gardens, forests, mountains all over our planet.
The term melli (honey) fere (to produce) is less correct than the term nectariferous. Indeed, it is not the plants that produce honey, as men thought in ancient times. It is the bees that collect the nectar from the flowers to produce their honey.
We can also use the term “beekeeping plants” which mainly includes flowering plants.
Pollinators are attracted to these flowers because of the attractive scent they give off, but also because of their pretty colors: blue, yellow, purple or white. In some ways, honey plants have seductive characteristics.
The morphology of the melliferae is adapted to the insect that will pollinate it to facilitate pollination. Thus, not all of them can accommodate honeybees because of their particular morphology.
Those accessible to honey bees are characterized by:

– Their morphology, well adapted to the bee in order to facilitate its access to nectar or pollination
– Their bright colors, attractive to the bee which has a trichromatic vision sensitive to green, blue and ultraviolet.
– The production of bee-friendly substances such as nectar, pollen, honeydew and propolis.

When to sow honey flowers?

It is important for bees to forage all year round, so it is best to spread out the blooms by choosing a variety of honey flowers.
The variety of honey plants is such that the bees find their food season after season. They bloom throughout the year, but bees have a preference for certain flowers. Indeed, these foragers particularly appreciate phacelia which produces a lot of nectar. Other melliferous flowers are interesting for bees:

– sainfoin: flowering from May to August
– sweet clover: flowering from June to September
– Persian clover: flowering from April to July
– Red clover: flowering in June, July
– the bourache : flowering from May to August
– Trefoil: flowering from May to September

Bees have a wide foraging radius, about three kilometers. During the summer, they have no difficulty in finding many flowers to gather. On the other hand, bees are less active when weather conditions are unfavorable (rain, wind, cold). To make their work easier, make sure that the flowers are close to their hive, especially during the dearth period (November to March). Indeed, this period is synonymous with the return of cold weather, so the bees go out much less. It is in March, with the return of spring, that the work of the foragers starts again little by little. They must pollinate the flowers to feed the larvae. It is thanks to this action that the queen starts laying her eggs, hence the importance of sowing flower seeds and having plants near the hive.

The importance of honey flowers for pollinating insects

They are crucial for these insects. Nectar and pollination are essential for the bee colony, it is dependent on it. Indeed, if they lack them, bees suffer from deficiencies in amino acids which are essential to their survival. Similarly, royal jelly is essential for the survival of the hive. It has to be excellent, so the outside food has to be varied and of good quality.
However, as natural areas become increasingly scarce and degraded, insects are affected by malnutrition. Plant biodiversity is impacted, especially by the use of pesticides and weed killers, which causes many plants to disappear. Other factors are responsible for this, such as the decrease in fallow land or the cultivation of fodder plants (alfalfa, sainfoin), which is being replaced by soya.
The number and variety of insects have a great influence on biodiversity and vice versa. It is a system of interdependence, insects are more vulnerable when their environment is impoverished. Similarly, when insect numbers decline, maintaining plant biodiversity becomes difficult.

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