One of the things I have learned from my honeybees is that a few mature trees collectively produce far more flowers for nectar and pollen than all the flowers I can plant by hand. I have room to plant some additional trees so my personal goal is to add a few more flowering trees.
- Willows are among the earliest to flower,
- Locally, a half-dozen varieties of Maple trees provide an overlapping flower bloom period I estimate to be 6-8 weeks in duration. This leads me to speculate that maple flower nectar is one of the major reasons that honey produced in the springtime is lighter-colored and so sweet. (as is Maple syrup)
- Nut trees are among the latest trees to bloom (Early-mid-July for Chestnuts and Catalpa)
These are the professionally created lists of favored native plants that I found most helpful.
In “Bumble Bees in the Eastern US.” each different type of bumblebee is listed along with their favorite five foods. There is a sample of a page here. I’m having a bit of trouble getting my bumblebee to be still under the magnifying glass for positive identification. Hovever, the five most commonly listed plants are: Thistle, Goldenrod, Bone Set, Asters and St. Johns Wort. Gosh! I’ve been pulling up Thistle for years! No More!
In Conserving Bumble Bees. page 26 shows the Northeastern Region of the US has 11 plants listed with their overlapping bloom periods and color. Page 27 lists small trees and shrubs. I can see there is an Eastern Redbud tree in my future.
The balance of these lists are not specific to bees and cover all pollinators, so you’ll need to add some homework if you wish to Bee specific
Pollinator plants of the Northeast Region. A simple 3-page download by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. On one page 24 plants and thumbnail pictures are listed along with their colors, maximum heights and water needs listed.
Selecting plants for Pollinators has trees and perennial flowers listed by bloom period and color as well on pages 16through 19. They list the pollinator the plant attracts as well as desired soil conditions and height. Pages 20 and 21 are dedicated to butterflies.