bee forage photographs

It’s pink with star-shaped petals . . .

I am announcing a new project here at Honey Bee Suite, a collaboration with Bill Reynolds of Minnesota. Credit the idea to Bill. He mentioned that many beekeepers don’t know what their bees are foraging on simply because they can’t identify the plants. So he thought it would be useful to link the list of honey bee-friendly plants to actual photos of those plants in bloom.

I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but basically we’re going to try to collect photographs of bee-pollinated plants from all over North America and post them, cross-referenced with name, location, bloom time, and type of bee seen on them.

We’re going to need help from all corners of North America to get this done, so if you like to take pictures, please consider getting involved.

I will post them as they come in, so it will be a work in progress throughout the coming year. We think that the flower is the most important part to capture. If you can photograph a flower and forager together, all the better. Don’t worry about plant identification. If you’re unsure, just say so and we’ll figure it out.

If we get multiples of the same plant we will either pick one or have a vote to determine your favorite. You can watermark your photos with your name or just tell me how you want your name to appear and I will do it for you. How I arrange the photos will depend on how much response we get.

So, if you want to send a flower photo—or if you haven’t yet sent a hive photo—please e-mail them to me. My e-mail (altered to reduce spam) is: rusty[at]honeybeesuite[dot]com.

Spring is just around the corner, especially in the south, so get your camera ready. To get things rolling, Bill sent the following picture of a honey bee on milkweed. Can’t wait to see what you find!


Honey bee on milkweed flower. Photo by Bill Reynolds.

Honey bee on milkweed flower. Photo by Bill Reynolds.


  • Only in North America? Can’t the rest us join in the fun if you are going to Geotag all the entries anyway?

    Is it just native plants, or are imported plants allowed, e.g. if the UK were allowed I have some manuka, but it ain’t from around here.

    • Sorry, sorry. The whole world, okay? Imported plants are fine. British plants are great. I restricted it after I read that there are 250,000 species of flowering plants in the world. But hey, who’s counting? Snap away.

  • Great idea! Maybe you could add bloom time for the different zones???

    I like the new look of your blog too, btw.

  • I second bloom time. And honey characteristics from that plant if you know them? And growing zone if you know it? I have been trying to compile a list for my area based on my observations. I can send the spreadsheet I have so far to help you out if you want. This will be awesome! Thanks for all you do Rusty.

    Nick, I am visiting England in the next few weeks. Any idea how I can get in touch with UK beekeepers while I’m there? Maybe pick up a Beekeeping book that I won’t have to ship to the US?

  • I would suggest two things. Include pics of the leaves. Sometimes the flowers of several plants are very similar. Foliage would help in the identification of these plants. Also, identification by scientific name, since common names vary greatly by region.

  • Rusty –

    Wonderful project! (and I would have said so even before joining the local bee club and finding out that most of the older members called chicory “bluebells.” )
    Since I came in the other direction – from woods kid thru organic gardening and wild-plant identification to late-in-life beekeeping – it is clear that this is a real need. In our hot summer last year, the clover had scorched and the goldenrod hadn’t begun. But the chicory was splendid, everywhere. Most of our beekeepers here are stockmen, too, so they’re in a position to manage pastures and hayfields to conserve plant diversity. And keeping bees, they know WHY.
    One suggestion: include pictures of pollen, on bees or in combs. Help us to make the connections. Great idea!!
    Shady Grove Farm
    Corinth, KY

  • Joanne… When are you coming over, and what part of England will you be in? I know a few conference events coming up and they have bee book shops there. One in Cambridge and one just to the northwest of London. If you contact me on I will happy to see what we can find for you at the time.

  • Can I suggest with this project in mind and for a reference for plant data either way you have a look at this site… I use it to keep allotment and gardening records. Its free or you can pay a bit for a ‘pro’ account with extra features.

  • Sedum. JK. What a tremendous project you’ve taken on! I’d like the information to include whether the plants are pollen or nectar sources (or both). Then I’d like to see plant pairing photos, even if it’s just a hint of a plant in the background, so we can design our gardens more beautifully.

  • If you go to and click on Ecoregion Locator you can get a customized regional guide for selecting plants for pollinators (free). It will list scientific name, common names, bloom time, which pollinators are attracted, plant characteristics. If you then go to the USDA plant database ( and click on the name will get images of that plant.

  • Hello Rusty. I’m a new beekeeper (lol. Well I have them anyway) and I recently have started reading your site from your oldest post. I have only made it to this post so far so I apologize if you address this in a post that I will get to shortly. I realized today as I saw my bees on an unknown to me plant that I really need to learn a bunch of botany. I’m wondering if this database has happened or if it was a no go. I can imagine the insane amount of work it would be, but it would be so helpful to me over my first few years With bees.

    Thank you

  • Sorry to see the photo inventory didn’t germinate. It would have been fun and helpful to a lot of us – and yet another time sink for you.

    Sadly, one of the offered URLs is also unavailable. directs to a page explaining that they have been unable to keep up their codebase (a problem which I believe you are struggling with as well) and that it would be going offline in September 2019. So I missed ’em.

    Just an FYI to others who may have been excited by the description of this resource.

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