January Plants for Honey Bees

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Posted by @Mindy03 on
It's January, which usually means winter in most places. Winter evokes visions of gloomy days of cold and snow, but in some areas the sun shines and the temperature is warm enough for honey bees to be out and about. What's blooming in January to tempt honey bees to leave their hives and forage for food?

Winter is a fretful time for beekeepers in cold weather areas.  We pretty much have to leave the bees to survive on their own, hoping we did everything possible to help them get through the cold months.  We worry if it's too cold for too long and worry if it's too warm for too long.  After a cold spell the first day that's warm and dry enough for checking on the bees finds us peeking in the hives to see how they fared.  

When it's too cold for the bees to break their winter cluster for too long they can starve to death even though they have plenty of food available.  On the other hand, a too warm winter will enable the bees to move around the hive more freely which means more bees can access the food supply at a time.  That can lead to the winter stores you left them not being enough to get them through until the first plants start producing nectar and pollen.  

So what's a beekeeper to do?  Give them candy to eat and plant anything that blooms in January close to the hive to help feed them on those warm days they can get outside the hive.

Location: my garden, Gent, BelgiumDate: 2006-04-15Check this list of January blooming plants to see what's available to honey bees to help them through winter:

Agarita - Nectar and Pollen

Bethlehem Sage - Pollen

Blue Lungwort - Pollen

Bodnant Viburnum - Nectar and Pollen

Chinese Witch Hazel - Pollen

Common Lungwort - Pollen

Darley Dale Heath - Nectar and Pollen

Florida Pennyroyal - Nectar

Galanthus - Nectar and PollenLocation: my garden, Gent, BelgiumDate: 2011-03-25Great food source for bees! :)

Heath - Nectar and Pollen

Higan Cherry - Nectar and Pollen

Hybrid Witch Hazel - Pollen

Japanese Mahonia - Nectar and Pollen

Laurustinus - Nectar and Pollen

Mahonia - Nectar and Pollen

Red Maple - Nectar and PollenLocation: My garden in Hebon, KYDate: 2010-04-06

Snow Crocus - Nectar and Pollen

Snowdrops - Nectar and Pollen

Viola - Nectar 

Winter Aconite - Nectar and Pollen

January blooms are necessary not only to keep the bees going until spring but are also the beginning of the food supply needed for raising brood.  

Wouldn't it be wonderful to see some of these plants blooming in your yard during January?  Just remember, if you see bees out working right now, do not distrub them while they work.  They will be aggressive until they have stored enough food to feed their young.

(Editor's note: If you click on an image you will be taken to that plant's database profile. This is a nice new feature for All Things Plants!)


Comments and Discussion
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Honey bees in the chicken feed by wildflowers Jan 22, 2013 2:36 PM 4
Untitled by fiwit Jan 16, 2013 6:59 AM 31
Untitled by kathygalles Feb 4, 2012 9:22 PM 0

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