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.