pollen

Honey bees all tangled up in blue pollen: bee-witching!

I wasn’t paying much attention to Pandora last night until I heard that old Bob Dylan tune, “Tangled up in Blue.” Oddly, I didn’t think of the ’70s or the desparately sad lyrics. No, not me . . . I thought about blue pollen. How weird is that?

Those who have been reading this blog for awhile know I’m obsessed with blue pollen. It just seems like such a gratuitous gesture on the part of mother nature. After all, the bees are attracted to the color of the flowers, the sweetness of the nectar, and the scent oozing from the glands. The color of the pollen shouldn’t much matter. And, as we all know, bees will collect it regardless of the color—white, green, yellow, pink, brown, and gray all work for them. So why did nature go to all that trouble? I haven’t a clue, but I love it.

The song reminded me that it’s time to think about planting some of my blue-pollen producers. The Siberian squill, a bulb flower, is already several inches tall and, since all the trees around it fell in the storm, it should actually get some sun this year. My other blue-pollen flowers still have to be planted.

If you’re ready for the blues as well, here are a few suggestions for your garden:

  • Siberian squill, Scilla siberica, is a bulbous perennial that blooms in early spring.
  • Tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii, is an herbaceous biennial that’s good for you southerners.
  • Borage, Borago officinalis, is an annual herb that freely re-seeds itself.
  • Fireweed or great willow-herb, Epilobium angustifolium, is an herbaceous perennial that grows in disturbed areas and produces water-white honey.
  • Phacelia, Phacelia tanacetifolia, is an annual herb, especially attractive to native bees.
  • Bird’s Eyes, Gilia tricolor, is an annual California native that will grow in most North American zones.

So there you go: six great ways to get your bees tangled up in blue.

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Honey bee with blue pollen.
Honey bee with blue pollen. Photo by Rusty Burlew.

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15 Comments

  • What a beautiful photo. I think poppies produce blue pollen too. There’s a lot of fireweed near me so hopefully my ladies will find it.

  • I am so glad I’m not the only one obsessed with blue pollen! Thank you for the list of flowers, it will certainly help my planting scheme.

  • I saw my first blue pollen yesterday and thought they had got into something artificial. Nice to know it all natural. Amazing to see it too.

  • I put a pollen trap on my hive and just started getting some blue pollen, too. It’s only about 1 per every 50 or so and looks a bit different than your picture–darker blue/grey and smaller sized. The Echium are blooming, but I know we have fireweed, too. It’s so strange that I get so excited about it. I mean, I’m just going to eat it! Thanks for the resource–I knew we didn’t have siberian squill, so I wasn’t sure where the blue was coming from.

  • I planted borage this year because I heard it was good source of summer food for honeybees, but I didn’t know it would produce blue pollen. It’s just starting to bloom, so now I’m going to be watching for blue pollen going into my hives. Now that’s exciting!

  • I have a photo of a purple wild flower with bright blue pollen that I took near the redwoods at the coast near the border of Oregon & California. I can send a photo. I wish I knew its identity (shape and size of Brodleia).

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