Safe bee friendly flowers

(Question)

Are the annual flowers or any flowers I buy at the garden centers bee friendly?
When the bee returns to the hive the nectar is useless , I’ve read but can’t find out what to look for on the plant information.
Thanks
Mary Willmott

 

(Answer)

Thank you for your email to Toronto Master Gardeners, Mary.

When I researched the term “useless nectar” I found a reference to hybrid plants, which are known to contain less pollen and some are even sterile.  We would generally advise creating gardens which contain plants native to the region, organically grown perennials, shrubs, trees, and vines that produce lots of pollen. The fewer hybridized plants in the garden, the better for the bees.

If you go to the home page of our website, www.torontomastergardeners.ca, you will see a tiny search box on the right hand side.  Just enter honey bee in that box and press enter.  Up will come quite a few results pertaining to your question. Some are past answers to similar queries, and others are summaries of presentations our group has given in and around Toronto. You will find many suggestions of which plants, especially native perennials, to use in a bee-friendly garden, and which to avoid, such as certain hybridized annuals.

You might also want to read The Bee-Friendly Garden by Kate Frey and Gretchen Lebuhn, winner of the American Horticultural Society 2017 Book Award.

Our own Toronto Botanical Garden has courses and lectures on bees and beekeeping.

I hope this answers your question adequately. Good gardening!