Tangled up in blue

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.


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


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