This is a guide to the best flowers to put in your garden this Winter so you can keep the bees fed and happy. When you provide beautiful pollen rich flowers they will keep coming back and, with a bit of luck, they will tell all their bee friends!
It's not often on our minds to think that visiting bees still need Winter blooming flowers during the cool months to provide them with pollen and nectar. While honey production is low during this time, bee's still ultimately need to get out of their cosy hives in search of food, the better sustained they are the more robust their honey making will be at other times of the year and survival rates will be higher.
While it's also pleasant for us as gardeners to have flowers in the the Winter garden, they are a welcome sight for all pollinating insects. There's nothing quite as amazing to me on a cold day to hear a buzzing coming from a cluster of plants and to see activity in the garden from a gang of friendly pollinators.
Even though the Winter can get quite harsh down here in Victoria Australia, just like us, the bees still venture out to get a snack. Your garden might be the very thing that keeps them going through these cooler months, your flowers being the comfort food that they are seeking.
Some flowers that will grow in Winter include:
Alyssum - plant a carpet of Alyssum to keep them happy for months. We use "Royal Carpet".
Calendula - We currently have "Snow Princess" and its a cheery pop of colour to add to any veggie patch.
Dianthus/carnation - We love growing these all winter long.
You can build a natural and welcoming habitat in your garden for the bees, whether they be of the native or European honey making variety, by planting these flowers below together in borders or clusters around the whole garden
Cyclamen - plant these under your trees where they will naturalise.
Bees still explore outside when its about 10 degrees celsius or over, although I've surprisingly spotted them on an 8 degree day here on my hillside garden.
While we need them in Spring and Summer, I urge you to please not forget about them come Winter, as that's when they need us gardeners the most. Just like in other aspects of life, if you treat your bee friend's nicely all year round, you will certainly be rewarded with delicious produce and flowers when the time comes.
What will you feed your visitor bees during the Winter?