bee forage

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.


Bee bee tree in flower. Wikimedia Commons photo.


  • 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.

      • 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.

      • 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.

  • 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).

    • Karen,

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

      • 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.

  • We have beekeepers here in Maryland suggesting this tree, but it is invasive.
    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, red maple and black gum are nice, but the Southeast is already full of plenty of wild red maples, and in many locations, mine included, blackgums, too, so planting a few more of these trees when there are already thousands (or tens of thousands) within bees’ flying radius wouldn’t really make any difference. If you want to offer an alternative to this tree, you really need to find something that attracts bees during the late summer nectar dearth. That’s when knowledgeable beekeepers would really want nectar.

      • Eric,

        Sourwood (Oxydendrum arboreum) is both native and attractive to honey bees and other pollinators. Bloom time is the same as the invasive bee bee tree according to the Garden Plants for Honey Bees book by Peter Lindtner.


  • You might just want to take john677 with a grain of salt. He just stiffed me on an order of 12 trees + seeds. Sounded great up front, but once he cashed my check (should have used paypal) he refused to respond to emails or phone calls. A bit of digging discovered I was not alone. Once he was a source, but lately myself and others have regretted contacting him

    • Dean,

      I’m sorry that happened to you but many thanks for telling me. I removed his contact info from the comments.

  • I would encourage folks to be careful with Wolfescrossing farm. I finally had to send a complaint to the Attorney General of Ohio. The owner sent trees about a year after paid for. The trees were about half the size promised. Only one made it through the winter. The owner isn’t responding to my emails.

  • I lived in NW Detroit for 20 years and moved not too far away about 18 years ago. I used to grow a lot of small fruit (raspberries, jostaberries, gooseberries and a few others) as I had a very large yard. When the throat mite attacked all the honeybees and they all disappeared I had an inordinate amount bumblebees pollinating my small fruit. There were these 2 trees a block or two away that always were covered with honeybees and i never knew what they were. They also had no honeybees for quite a few years, then one summer I started to see the honeybees on this tree and within a few years they were covered with honeybees again. In Detroit they seem to bloom from early August well into September. They never seen to flinch in our winter. Though we are cold we don’t get below zero very often. We are a zone 6. The tree were good size when I moved there in 1978 and are still there today. and look good. They bloom prolificly. I’m not a beekeeper but really appreciate knowing what the trees were. I posted on here only so people who live in a similar climate and zone will have an idea of hardiness, longevity and period of bloom.

  • I planted a beebee tree ten years ago, and never yet did I see the tree with blossoms on it.

    Why is this so?

    Regards, John

  • I have two bee bee trees in my front yard that are loaded with bees right now! I am not sure who planted them there but as someone who is allergic it’s dangerous. I wish they weren’t there as much as I support bees. I live in northeastern Kansas.

    • Are you allergic to the trees, or to the bees?

      I have a little beebee tree in my backyard; it’s only about 3′ tall. I bought it 2 years ago from Logee’s, in Connecticut. I believe they still have them. I’ve read that they are male and female trees. Do them both make flowers and are searched by the bees? I can’t wait to see it grows and bloom, because here in NH, where I live, it’s nothing for the bees in July and much of August. I’m a hobby beekeeper too.

      • Ted,

        I don’t know about beebee trees in particular, but in many dioecious plants (where there are male and female flowers) the bees can collect pollen from the male flowers and nectar from the female flowers.

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