Update on bee forage plants

Whoa! I was overwhelmed by the response to It’s pink with star-shaped petals. It seems that everyone wants to know what plants their bees are foraging on. I received many photos already and many suggestions.

Here are some of the requests:

  • include the U.K.
  • include a list of hardiness zones where the plant will live
  • indicate bloom time by hardiness zone, region, and country
  • say whether it is a pollen plant, a nectar plant, or both
  • describe honey characteristics
  • provide scientific names
  • provide photos of pollen loads
  • include photos of the leaves
  • provide plant pairing photos for garden design (oh sure)

Other people provided links to their favorite plant information sites, including:
So, here’s my question: Do any of you have ideas for arranging, storing, indexing, and presenting all this information? I think the original idea was to have a list of bee-friendly plants that were linked by name to a page of information about that plant, including photos. But if people don’t know what the plant is to start with, shouldn’t there be a way to go to photos first?

What do you think? What would you like to see? I’m eager to hear any ideas you might have, but remember I’m not a computer geek. I barely muddle through with a sprinkle of html and a pinch of css . . . and I don’t even know what php does.

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Comments

nick holmes
Reply

Oh and http://www.beehappyplants.co.uk/ , where I got my manuka from and a number of other bee friendly plants, has on each plant if they are good for pollen or nectar or both. And pictures, and zone info, etc.

I think you need a database with indexing by characteristics, colour, shape, etc etc, and then a nice gallery view of pictures

Talking of a solution, the people at myfolia are very nice, friendly and green focused. They may be interested in extending their product, or may at least be able to give you some pointers.

The people at bee happy plants also are very friendly and I am sure would benefit from joining in such a well suited venture that would allow potential bee friendly customers to find them. But I do know they are very busy with their new company so may not be able to afford much time.

:-)

Rusty
Reply

Thanks, Nick. I may contact them.

Emily
Reply

Perhaps give people an option to search by photos too? So have a page/pages of photos sorted by colour or flowering time, usually all people know is that it’s a yellow flower in May, for example. If you wanted to be really fancy you could have a searchable database, but that’s a bit trickier to build!

ScoobyDoBee
Reply

I like the idea of photos first because, as you said, it’s the best way to figure out a plant I don’t recognize. On some of the insect ID sites I have visited, they ask for traits. So for a plant I might get to chose: color(s), leaf shape, are the leaves pinnate or alternate, smooth, jagged, etc. Of course, when I want to ID a bug, the site never has the exact quantifier that I need. :) Brave undertaking, Rusty! Kudos.

Nancy
Reply

The great thing about web pages is, it’s so easy to cross-reference!

I’d like to suggest the arrangement method in the Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers. It’s organized by color and shape of bloom, but also a section showing the type of flower.

It was an enormous help to me in the beginning to learn the wild plants of my land and region. You don’t just find out what a certain flower is called, you also learn what a “ray flower,” “disk flower” and “tubular flower” are, as well as leaves. So you learn the whole plant-identification skill. I am not sure enough beekeepers, however experienced, appreciate the importance of this, no more than a lot of farmers do. The general public might be excused, but we can’t. Glad to help however I can!

Nan
Shady Grove Farm
Corinth, KY

Rusty
Reply

Thanks, I’ll take a look at the Audubon guide to see how they did it. I also have dichotomous keys, books on plant taxonomy, plant systematics, and various floras I should study. Too bad there aren’t more hours in a day.

Chris
Reply

Rusty-
I use this site (http://www.minnesotawildflowers.info) to help me identify wildflowers in my state. Browse the site and you’ll get some ideas on the various tools/prompts they use to enable a search.

Chris

Peter
Reply

I think you will need a relational database to make access to the information more flexible. Photographs cannot appear in a database but links to them can.

But I would suggest that you do not do it yourself. Perhaps better to talk to one of the established sites linked above (or your local University) and work with them and provide a database interface from your site to theirs. Collecting the data is hard work but there are people on this list willing to support that, running a database is straight forward once it is set up. As long as the ‘right’ information is recorded and can be subseqently searched for it has to be win win.

I would not restrict by geography but simply ask where the plant is to be found.

Rusty
Reply

All good suggestions. Thank you.

Peter
Reply

I know it would be quite incredible but a link of the plants to a microscopy pollen database would be kind of cool ….

Wayne Davidson
Reply

Maybe you could hook up with the seed and tree magazines. They already have all the plants referenced to climate zones and a description of the plants with pictures. It won’t cover things that grow wild necessarily

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