Flower Bulbs And Corms For Bees

Muscari - lovely fragrant bulb, easy to grow and share with family and friends - works well in pots too!

I have several types of flower corms and flower bulbs for bees in my garden, from winter flowering crocus, snowdrops and traditional daffodils, to Spring muscari, hyacinth, iris and bluebell. During the summer, up come the alliums and crocosmia (crocosmia are okay in my experience, though not fantastic - but since they arrived in my garden I've always had them).

If you’d like to know which bulbs to plant for bees, read on, as well as tips for buying.

Bumble bee foraging on English bluebell. Blue bells grow very happily in dappled shade beneath the trees to the rear of our garden.

Please note, if you are potting bulbs in pots, please avoid using compost laced with vine weevil killer neonicotinoid pesticides if available in your country (such as Imidacloprid, Acetimacloprid,Thiacloprid, Thiamethoxam, Dinotefuran and Nitenpyram), and ensure your bulbs have not been cultivated using neonics.

Bulbs and corms (and tubers and rhizomes) are quite versatile. Some are great in lawns, such as snowdrops, some species of short stemmed fritillaria, and of course, crocus, also work well in lawns and at the front of borders, between clumps of flowers.

There are flower bulbs that will grow quite well in areas that we might call problem places in the garden - such as shady spots.

If you have a shade garden, (for example, a shady spot beneath the trees) – wood anemone, snowdrop, cyclamen, blue bell and winter aconite are treasures for any gardener with these conditions.

I love the large, showy summer flowering bulbs too, such as the tall alliums and agapanthus that look beautiful in the border, and tend to be quite long flowering. It’s not unusual to see large allium heads with several bumblebees feeding on them at once, and honey bees eagerly drinking nectar from agapanthus.

So in summary, I recommend flower bulbs for bees, because they are generally very easy to grow, and most people can accommodate at least some flower bulbs liked by bees whether they have a large bee garden, or just a pot of hyacinths and crocus by the front door.

Bumble bees love alliums!

Bulbs are often good value too. I love the fact that you can divide up your muscari, snowdrops and crocosmias, so that you end up with free plants you can swap with others or transplant elsewhere in your garden.In summary, here is a list of easy to grow flower bulbs for bees:

Winter Flower Bulbs For Bees:

Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa spp.)
Winter Aconite

Spring Corms And Bulbs For Bees:

Cyclamen corm (but can flower from January)
Siberian squill (Scilla siberica)
Wood Anemone (anemone nemorosa)

Summer Corms And Bulbs For Bees:

Foxtail Lily
Ornithogalum (Star Of Bethlehem)

Buying Flower Bulbs For Bees

Above is a warning from Friends of the Earth US.

These days, pesticides may be used in the cultivation of bulbs and plants by the horticulture industry. Neonicotinoids are systemic pesticides, and are a subject of much controversy – read more about this on the page honey bee deaths and pesticides. These pesticides persist in soil, and are not easily degraded.

In order to make doubly sure I avoid any possibility or risk that I will unwittingly poison the bees or pollute my garden soil with any pesticide contaminating my flower bulbs, (or indeed other plants), I take the following precautions:

I either -

    1. Buy organic, or
    2. Swap with friends and relatives with similar views, or
    3. Buy them from a local farmers' market, where we are fortunate to have a plant stall owned by a hobby gardener I trust, or
    4. Purchase from a local nursery I trust.

This website has more lists of bee plants, including herbs, garden plants, trees, shrubs, wild flowers and even fruit and veg, so do take a look to learn more.

Bees are also excellent pollinators. Learn more about plant pollination.

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