Bee meadows – Bridging the nectar dearth

The splendour of blossoms in most areas of Switzerland gradually decreases towards the end of May, while the honeybee colony only reaches its peak in June. This results in a so-called «nectar dearth» in the summer months, in which the food supply for the honeybees becomes scarce. However, you can support your bee colonies by planting late-flowering bee meadow. For all bee enthusiasts beekeeper or hobby gardener alike, we have compiled a list of tips to help bees during this time.

The nectar dearth

Many areas of Central Europe can be characterised as highly structured agricultural fields. However, such large-scale mono-cultures result in a pretty one-sided food supply. Crops which are typically planted on a very large scale such as rapeseed and orchards, all bloom in spring which means that in the summer months there is less food to go around. During the same period, the colonies reach their maximum population, which increases the shortage of food. Therefore, it is important to leave enough honey for the bees during the spring honey harvest and to support the bees by planting late flowering  plants.

Bees visit flowers to collect nectar or pollen, the amount of nectar and pollen can vary greatly depending on the plant species. While some plants produce lots of nectar, others are mainly an important pollen supply. For bee health and vitality, it not just about how much food is available, but also how diverse these food sources are. Habitats with high biodiversity are therefore of indispensable for a balanced diet. In addition, the plants the bees feed on is are reflected in the aroma and consistency of the honey. SO, a diverse and flower-rich habitat is also vital for the production of high-quality honey.

Bee meadows

By planting late flowering plants you can support your bee colonies during the nectar dearth. In addition, bee meadows provide an abundance of food for wild bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects and thereby supports biodiversity.

Various seed mixtures for bee-friendly meadows (e.g. «bienenweide Mellifera» from Sativa or «Bestäuber-Saatmischung» from UFA) are offered in specialist stores. Besides flowers, there are also various late-flowering trees, bushes and shrubs with high nutritional value for bees. With these, the garden can be customized into a bee meadow. For everyone, beekeeper or hobby gardener alike (or both) we have compiled plant recommendations for in the garden.

Trees and Shrubs


Trees and shrubs; from top-left to bottom-right: Sweet chestnut, Largeleaf linden, Alder buckthorn, Bee-bee tree, Japanese pagoda tree, Seven Son Flower, Santa Barbara Ceanothus, Common snowberry
Trees and shrubs; from top-left to bottom-right: Sweet chestnut, Largeleaf linden, Alder buckthorn, Bee-bee tree, Japanese pagoda tree, Seven Son Flower, Santa Barbara Ceanothus, Common snowberry

Perennial plants

 
Perennial plants; from top-left to bottom-right: European Michaelmas-daisy, Spiked speedwell, Purple loosestrife, Meadow clary, Holy Rope, New York aster, Common rue, Lavender
Perennial plants; from top-left to bottom-right: European Michaelmas-daisy, Spiked speedwell, Purple loosestrife, Meadow clary, Holy Rope, New York aster, Common rue, Lavender

Annual or Biennial plants

 
Annual or Biennial plants; From top-left to bottom-right: Honey clover, Common mallow, Rosebay willowherb, Yellow mignonette, Denseflower mullein, Purple tansy, Common sunflower, Southern globethistle, Borage, Spider flower
Annual or Biennial plants; From top-left to bottom-right: Honey clover, Common mallow, Rosebay willowherb, Yellow mignonette, Denseflower mullein, Purple tansy, Common sunflower, Southern globethistle, Borage, Spider flower
Vatorex, Felix Poelsma
25 September, 2019
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