Characteristics of bee-friendly plants

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.

By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao 

Bees are the natural pollinators that help plants grow and propagate. Through their efforts, both mankind and animals are able to acquire food from nature. 

Although bees come in close contact with and are beneficial to plants, some plants can have negative effects on the busy workers and keep them from doing their job of pollinating greenery. 

Dahlen Manila-Fajardo, a pollination biologist from Laguna and a proprietor of 3miel Bee Farm, shared that there are ways to determine whether a specific plant benefits bees or not. 

“Flowers have their own special way of attracting bees. There are five factors which include the appearance of the flower, its color, size, smell, and even its location,” said Manila-Fajardo.

In terms of color, Manila-Fajardo said that bees tend to gravitate to flowers with one-shade and are closer to the violet side of the color spectrum. At the same time, bees tend to shy away from the color red. 

“Bees have trichromatic vision. They can only see yellow, blue-green, and violet shades and that’s why bees are blind to red-colored flowers,” she said. 

When it comes to shape and size, the pollination biologist said that bees are more attracted to slightly large irregularly-shaped flowers. 

“This is so that the bees could see them. But [the flowers] should not be too large because the bees might drown in the nectaries,” Manila-Fajardo said. 

Nectaries are the nectar-secreting parts of a flower while extrafloral nectaries are those found on the leaves or stems of plants.  

As for the location, flowers should be terminal, or located at the end of the sprout. Manila-Fajardo said that bees wouldn’t go to flowers situated between branches because they find them inaccessible. 

“For bees to really see the flowers, they have to pick up a faint scent coming from it. The scent should range from mildly sweet to flowery,” she added. 

Besides the elements that attract bees which the pollination biologist mentioned, the time of flowering should also be considered so bees can get more nectar and pollen from the plant. 

If plants bloom at night, like with marang, the nectar would be harvested by bats and only remnants of it will be left for the bees to collect in the morning. However, if bees forage on plants that flower during the day, they’ll manage to get the optimum amount of nectar they can use to sustain their colony and produce honey. 

One specific plant that bees love to forage on is the coconut palm or niyog because it blooms all year-round. 

Remember to keep these pointers in mind when setting up an apiary and a foraging area to ensure maximum production from the busy bees. 

Manila-Fajardo discussed this topic in her webinar entitled “For Bee or Not for Bee” during the Beekeeping: A series of talks on beekeeping and beyond held last May 23 in celebration of World Day.

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Patricia Bianca S. Taculao
Patricia Taculao, or Patty as she likes to be called, is a content producer for Manila Bulletin Digital Lifestyle. She graduated from University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. She loves to spend her free time, reading, painting, and watching old movies.

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