Honey bee forage: lovage
This one surprised me. I’ve grown lovage for many years, but I usually cut it back before it flowers. This year I let it go. Yesterday I was amazed to count over forty honey bees on one plant. I had no idea they liked it so well.
Lovage, Levisticum officinale, is in the same family (Apiaceae) as celery, carrot, anise, parsnip, dill, and caraway. It is highly aromatic with hollow stems and greenish-yellow flowers. The flowers of many plants in this family are known as good companion plants because the nectar attracts such insects as parasitic wasps and flies as well as lady bugs. When not drinking nectar, these predatory insects feed on crop-damaging insects, making them valuable biological control agents.
I couldn’t find any references to lovage as bee forage, but in Honey Plants of North America (1926) John H. Lovell says that celery grown for seed along the Sacramento River yields a surplus honey crop. He mentions the flowers “yield nectar freely.” From what I observed yesterday, it seems the flowers of lovage do so as well.
In fact, the lovage managed to attract all those honey bees in spite of the fact that blackberries are in full and plentiful bloom where I live. I am impressed.