Honey bee forage: bee bee tree

The bee bee tree, Tetradium daniellii, is favored by both bees and beekeepers because of its bloom time. In mid to late summer (July and August) when nectar is scarce, the bee bee tree produces masses of flat white flower clusters reminiscent of elderberry blooms. The flowers are small, fragrant, sometimes tinged with pink or yellow, and extremely attractive to honey bees and other pollinators.

The tree can grow 40 feet tall, although 25-30 feet is more common. The bark is smooth and gray and the deciduous leaves are dark green and glossy. In autumn the leaves change little, falling once they turn faintly yellow. The seed pods are reddish to purple and each one contains two shiny black seeds that are highly prized by birds of all types.

Although the tree is not generally considered invasive, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has included it on their “watch list”  because it has become problematic in some areas. It grows freely in USDA hardiness zones 4-8, prefers full sun, and is tolerant of a wide range of soil pH.

The bee bee tree is in the Rutaceae family—the same family as citrus trees. In the past the plant has been known as Evodia daniellii and Euodia daniellii. Commonly, it is also referred to as the Korean Bee Tree.

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Bee bee tree in flower. Wikimedia Commons photo.
Bee bee tree in flower. Wikimedia Commons photo.

Comments

Sarah
Reply

Often when I read about flowers, like on the website I buy seeds from, it says “blooms in late summer/early fall when nectar is scarce”. I can list a number of flowers, common ones, that bloom “when nectar is scarce”. I am beginning to think that nectar is not really scarce during that time.

Rusty
Reply

How long have you been keeping bees?

Sarah
Reply

Not long at all. I got my bees from a split of my friend’s hive July 2011. In my backyard golden rod, asters, sunflowers, marigold, mums and thistle are abundant, and I saw wild quinine still blooming in early November. In summer there’s clover and dandelion, and in spring we have the trees. So where I live I do not think nectar is really scarce early or late in the year.

beegeorge
Reply

Sarah,

Where do you get your Bee Tree seeds?

I wish to plant some here.

thank you

Sarah
Reply

In spring here we have a lot of trees in bloom, but this tree blooms in fall and I’ve never heard of a bee tree before this article. However, Prairie Moon Nursery (online site) has a lot to offer at a very good price.

mark
Reply

I have a live tree from Logee’s plants.

Rusty
Reply

Hey Zach,

Thanks so much! Great pics!

Talonspop
Reply

Rusty, do you know of any sources for Bee Bee trees? Either seedlings or seeds?

Rusty
Reply

One place I know about is in Ohio called Wolfes Crossing Farms, but you can find lots of sources with a Google search for beebee tree or Korean evodia.

Karen
Reply

My parents have a large old specimen of this tree. We have always wondered what it was, and simply referred to it as “the bee tree”, because at this time of year (early August), every bloom has many bees of all kinds on it, and you can hear the tree buzz from a distance. The picture you have is exactly our bee tree!

Like all of my parent’s trees, it is at least 40 years old, and beginning to show decline. I am going to try to take clippings and root them this winter. They live in PA, but I have never seen another one, and despite at least a dozen other invasive species in their yard, it has never produced offspring. I think that there is no male tree for many miles and therefor it cannot produce viable seed (in fact, I’ve never seen the berries mature into anything resembling the descriptions I’ve read of bee bee tree fruit).

Thank you for a great picture that confirms my growing suspicions about finally identifying this beloved tree! (PS: my brother seems to be allergic to it, so you might want to visit one in bloom before you plant it yourself).

Rusty
Reply

Karen,

The more I hear about these trees, the more I want one. Everyone says the bees come from miles around.

John
Reply

Rusty, if you don’t have any of these trees yet I would like to offer some to you in gratuity for letting folks know I have them available for sale. If so, just let me know how many and where to send them and I gladly will. I did send you a message through the “contact me ” link as well.

John
Reply
John
Reply

Just wanted to let folks know I have freshly collected, cold treated (stratified) Bee Bee tree seeds and a good supply of dormant seedlings as well. Now is a good time to plant dormant seedlings, it’s common practice right through February. The dormant seedlings are shipped and planted bare-root.

Bare-root trees roots will grow after the trees are planted. Those few extra months of root growth give the trees an edge over container trees planted in spring. The trees establish more quickly. Contact me here or at [email protected] with any questions.

John
Reply
Richard Vardaman
Reply

What do you get for your dormant seedlings?
I am in Central Arkansas Zone 7

Maggie
Reply

We have beekeepers here in Maryland suggesting this tree, but it is invasive. http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/cs/groups/public/documents/document/dcnr_010298.pdf
Please consider an alternative: red maple and black gum are also attractive for pollinators.
It is also said that it takes seven years for this tree to blossom.
It may seem like a good idea at the time, but years down the road when these trees are pushing out native trees, we may regret planting them. The seeds are spread by birds, so the ramifications will be far reaching.
All the best,
Maggie.

Richard
Reply

Spread these trees! Anything for the bees!

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