Friday, May 6, 2011

Kale for Bees?

Last night, as I was sleeping,
I dreamt — marvelous error!
that I had a beehive here inside my heart.
And the golden bees were making white combs
and sweet honey from my old failures.
~Antonio Machado

So, we attend the meetings of three different bee associations in the region, and at one of them last month a fellow mentioned that he lets his kale go to flower for the bees. Hmmm, I got to thinking, I grow kale, the Tuscan variety (aka Dino kale or Black kale), and usually when it begins to flower I yank it out and start the garden over again. I didn’t know bees would go for it. This spring, if you can call it that, has been so cold and wet for so long that I’ve not been able to get any new seedlings other than peas and leeks in the ground. The garlic and remaining leeks have wintered over well, the asparagus is coming up, the alpine strawberries are blooming and now the kale is in full bloom.

Woo hoo! Not only do the bees love it but the hummingbirds are going for it too! Not in droves but the other day I saw a hummer flitting around and sampling all the flowers. In addition to honey bees and hummingbirds, there were also other different tiny pollinator bees going for it. Check out the honey bee in the picture here. Honey bees have shorter tongues than bumblebees and hummingbirds who could easily reach into such a deep flower. These flowers are a little too tight for the bees to get their heads in far enough for their tongues to reach the nectar so the smart little bee is accessing it from between the petals from the backside of the bloom nearer the stem end. Smart huh?

Who knew?? Not me, that’s for sure but I learned something new that I will continue in the years to come. Leave the kale to bloom for your pollinators.

In Bloom In My Garden Today: Alpine strawberries, Bergenia, Ajuga, Kale, Tulips, Geum, Erythronium ‘pagoda, Fritillaria, Brunnera macrophylla, Anemone nemorosa, Dicenta alba (white bleeding heart), Skimmia, Muscari (Grape Hyacinths), Rhododendron, Mahonia, Clematis, Wood Hyacinths, primrose (double English), Heleborus, Bellis perennis (English daisy),

Author’s photos


Shari B. (FitFeat) said...

SMART bees going for UBER NUTRITIOUS kale! I love it!! No wonder honey is so good for us! :)

Joan, I thought of you today - we went to a local garden center to start picking our veggie garden. It was like a gardener's paradise. So big and so busy that they actually had security detail and people directing parking. For mother's day weekend they had a band set up inside, with free food/refreshments. It was pure crazy but such a COOL COOL place. If you ever make it out to CO we have to take you there! :) You would love it!

Joan said...

Hi Shari,
It sounds like THE place for me!! I hope to visit you in CO someday...we'll make it a date. I'm so excited to see and hear about your veggie garden and the fun you have in growing your own food! Yay for you two! You ROCK!

Cindy said...

I seriously had no idea Kale bloomed!

How cool is that that the hummingbirds liked it too..

We were outside today and JJ was having lots of bee was dying we had to save, one was dead we needed to put in the garden and one was hanging out in our tomato plant.

We also have a carpenter bee (the big black one??) that is buzzing around our yard this past week and JJ does not like him.


Shari....I want to go check out that garden center too!

also I CANNOT wait to see what you plant.

Joan said...

Hi Cindy,
Most veggies bloom, and that's how we get the seeds to buy to sow more. It's just blooming veggies are no longer good for eating so gardeners don't like to let them go to flower.

How fun that JJ is so interested in bees. Even black bees are good. If it's shiney w/no visible fur it could be a carpenter or mason bee. If it's furry it could be a bumble. So many types of great pollinating bee I don't know them all, but they all serve a purpose.

Doesn't that garden center sound awesome?? I've NEVER been to one that has live music! I just gotta see that one. How fun if we could all visit it together! WOO HOO!!

ddzeller said...

The collards we had in the fall overwintered and now have lots of flowers that attract bees. The flowers have a sweet collard flavor and I've been using them in salads too since we have so many. Love this post.

Joan said...

Hi DD!
What a great idea! I NEVER thought of using the kale flowers in salads. I'm going to do that tonight! Nor have I ever tried collards...I had no idea they had a sweetness to them. On my shopping list now. Cheers!

Stainless steel Fabrication sunshine coast said...

This is a very nice post

Joan said...

Thank you and welcome! I appreciate you chiming in.