Float Like A Butterfly, Think Like A Bee


I looked it up.  Crocuses are indeed an important food source for honeybees, mainly because they bloom so early. It seems as if the one thing a gardener like me could do to ensure the health of the hive is to plant things that bloom early, when the native blooms are scarce, and ditto, late–after the wild goldenrod and beebalm have gone to bed.


Marsh marigolds last weekend: early-blooming native

Now, I’ve sworn not to do ornamentals in the country.  Enough’s enough, and my vegetable garden is enough work there.  But the bees are making me rethink.  I love the look of bulbs planted under fruit trees.  So why not plant a few hundred crocuses under the apple trees near the bees?   It would take an hour at most.  And here in the city, my sweet autumn clematis is always so full of bees that it hums.  Wouldn’t it be generous of me to work a few of those into my country yard, as a kind of October pre-bed Sambuca for those Italian bees?

They’re also making me rethink the native versus non-native debate a bit.  Of course, the bees themselves are not native, but I’m suddenly conscious of the importance of planting things that will feed the wildlife. My previous position: Only willing to discuss native versus non-native once we eliminated all of the god-damned asphalt from the world.

Anything that makes an old gardener rethink is a good thing, which is probably why I’m willing to put up with vet bills, a vacuum full of dog hair, bee suits strewn all over the basement, smelly fish-water changes, and the occasional pony-bite on the arm.  Creatures are full of surprises–and Gossip Girl, as delightful as it is, not so much.   


  1. As I will post later today, a Haagan Dazs website on honeybees had my husband suggesting plants we should grow to attract bees. It is the first time to my knowledge he has ever done this, except to recommend we grow perennials not annuals so we wouldn’t have to spend as much money. Bees bring out the ornamental gardener in people!

  2. i have found, a , i suppose wild bee hive. from reading i guess native not european bees. they are living either in or near a log left in my city yard. the log is there for sculptural interest focal point ,you know, thing that is not a plant. i have a a bench and shade i sit and stare at a cross and pray here.
    i have read good for my apple trees. Q: what should i do to help them remain ? i live in northern illinois . cold winters.
    what is best list to plant to help them have diversity of food sources her in n. illinois. see, what i read is from other states.
    i now grow –
    wild milk weed as an ornamental ,daffodils, hyssop aka licorice leaf ( edible), mint, chicory aka blue sailor or wild blue daisy, belles of scotland aka illinois bluebells, mammoth annual sunflowers, tomatoes, an apple tree ( gala early blooomer), penstemon, ajuga, roses, wild violets as an ornamental and as a vegetable ( flowers edible ) , dandlions (edible flowers, leaves ), yarrow, naturalizing daylilies, asian lilies, stargazer lilies, yellow bell clover ( edible leaves flowers and seeds), hollyhock, creeping charlie ( a weed ) jack in the pulpit, may apple , red trefoil aka beth flower, perrinial blue geranium aka johnsons blue, ajuga, annual geranium, annual and perrianil verbenum, annual millet, peoney, hosta, .
    so i list what i have to try to get an idea of whats missing seasonnaly i mean. i have all this because i wanted butterflys.
    isnt that wierd? i got them but also bees. my apple tree has a lot of apples maybe the bees in corner are why.

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