Pollinator Plant Series: Part 2


It's time to share another set of pollinator plants with you. This time I'll do two posts in one, or 8 plants. You can read our first post here if you need to catch up. In the meantime, I'll continue with the "B" pollinator plants. First up we have Bee Balm!

Bee BalmBeebalm/Wild Bergamot, Monarda
Native Perennial/Annual
Light: sun/part-shade
Soil: average to dry
Height: 3-4 feet
Bloom Time: June-August
Flowers: Purple, red, lavender, white, pink
Which bees love it most?
Beebalm, also known as Wild Bergamot and scientifically as Monarda, is an excellent pollinator plant no matter which specific species you plant, however the types of pollinators attracted varies widely. Bumblebees, hummingbirds, and hawk moths are more attracted to wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa), while spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata) attracts a wide variety of bee species. Beebalms are also great host plants for caterpillars, in particular those of raspberry pyrausta, orange mint and hermit sphinx moths.
Human Uses: Beebalm is a member of the mint family. It’s leaves and flowers are edible can be used to make herbal teas or used for salads and garnishes. Beebalm is also antimicrobial and soothing, so beebalm tea is often used to help heal colds and flu. It also has a soothing effect on the digestive tract and helps to treat indigestion, bloating and nausea.

BlackberryBlackberry, Rubus
Native & Non-Native Shrub
Light: sun/shade
Soil: dry to wet
Height: 12 feet
Bloom Time: May-August
Flowers: White, pink
Which bees love it most?
Blackberry bushes come in many different species and are well-loved by honeybees, bumblebees, and mining bees. Mason bees and small carpenter bees also visit blackberries and favour using the hollow and pithy stems as nest sites. Blackberries are also host plants for caterpillars of the echo azure butterfly and Io moth.
Human Uses: …Blackberries… need I say more? Blackberries are also high in antioxidants which can help lower cholesterol, ward off cardiovascular diseases and deactivate potentially cancer-causing chemicals.

BLACK-EYED SUSANBlack-Eyed Susan, Rudbeckia
Native Perennial
Light: full sun
Soil: dry to wet
Height: 4-6 feet
Bloom Time: June-September
Flowers: Yellow
Which bees love it most?
Black-eyed Susan tends to attract more butterflies than bees. However, there are some bees that specialize in Rudbeckia, namely the Andrena rudbeckiae (a native bee) and some long-horned bees. Rudbeckia also provide food for caterpillars of bordered patch, gorgone checkerspot and silvery checkerspot butterflies. One variety, cutleaf cone-flower, attracts honeybees.
Human Uses: Black-eyed Susans are not edible or notably medicinal. Their flowers symbolize justice.

Black LocustBlack Locust, Robinia pseudoacacia
Native Tree
Light: sun
Soil: dry
Height: 80 feet
Bloom Time: May
Flowers: White
Which bees love it most?
Black locust is considered an excellent honey plant by many beekeepers. In addition to honeybees, black locust also attracts many native bees, humming birds, hummingbird moths and more. This tree is also a host plant for the caterpillars of many butterflies, including the silver spotted skipper, golden banded skipper, Zarucco duskywing, funereal duskywing and clouded sulphur butterflies.
Human Uses: Black Locust is a great hedgerow tree, providing habitat and food for many beneficial species. Try finding Frisia, a widely available variety, or Appalachia, Allegheny and Algonquin varieties, which were developed for revegetation and reclamation of mining sites in the Appalachian mountain region and may not be easy to find. Ornamental varieties can also be found at some commercial tree nurseries.

Blazing Star Blazing Star, Liatris
Native Perennial
Light: sun
Soil: dry to moist
Height: 4-6 feet
Bloom Time: June - August
Flowers: Lavender
Which bees love it most?
Blazing Star attracts long- and short- tongued bumblebees as well as butterflies. In particular, meadow blazing star (Liatris ligulistylis) is a monarch butterfly magnet. Towering prairie blazing star (Liatris pycnostachya), a smaller cylindrical variety called Liatris cylindrica, marsh blazing star (Liatris spicata) and rough blazing star (Liatris aspera) are also excellent varieties for pollinator support. Liatris species are exclusive food plants for the larvae of the flower moths, Schinia gloriosa and Schinia sanguinea. Other butterflies and moths also use this species as a food source.
Human Uses: Liatris is not edible or medicinal but can be beautiful as a cut flower.

BlueberryBlueberry, Vaccinium
Native Shrub
Light: sun
Soil: dry to average
Height: 6-8 feet
Bloom Time: May
Flowers: White
Which bees love it most?
Blueberry bushes have very small bell-shaped flowers, making them accessible only to very small bees that can climb inside or large bees with long tongues. Bumblebees will buzz-pollinate, shaking pollen loose from the blossoms. However, honeybees, carpenter bees and other short-tongued bees have been known to rob nectar from the flowers by biting holes in the backs of the flowers. Some blueberries are host plants for the black-banded orange, Canadian sphinx, and slender clearwing moth caterpillars, as well as red-spotted purple and brown elfin butterflies.
Human Uses: …Blueberries! High in antioxidants, blueberries are similar in use to blackberries as listed above. Blueberries also make great hedgerows.

Blue Vervain Blue Vervain, Verbena hastata
Native Perennial
Light: sun
Soil: average to wet
Height: 4-6 feet
Bloom Time: June-August
Flowers: Blue
Which bees love it most?
Blue vervain attracts many bee species including honeybees. It is also a host plant for caterpillars of the common buckeye butterfly, the verbena moth and the verbena bud moth.
Human Uses: Great as a pasture plant or rain garden; blue vervain grows from fibrous root systems and rhizomes that slowly spread into small colonies. It is relatively cheap to buy seed and can be a great choice for naturalizing a wet area.

BorageBorage, Borago officinalis
Non-native, Self-seeding Annual
Light: sun
Soil: average
Height: 2 feet
Bloom Time: May-August
Flowers: Blue
Which bees love it most?
Borage is a great honeybee forage plant, producing nectar throughout the day and even during colder weather. Other short-tongued bumblebees and insect pollinators such as hoverflies also visit borage but are not as attracted as honeybees. Butterflies tend to ignore borage flowers.
Human Uses: Flowers and leaves are both edible and have a mild melon-like flavour. Flowers are great as a garnish for salads, cakes, homemade ice-cream or anything else you can come up with!

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