Common Name Latin Name Type Honey & Pollen Yields in Pounds Per Acre Nectar / Pollen Miscellaneous Information
Top Five" Plants for Honeybees   60-160lbs    
Borage Borago officinalis Annual herbaceous plant 200 pounds honey;60-160 pounds pollen Nectar Self-seeding, medicinal plant that can over-winter. Young leaves and blue blossoms may be used in salads. Provides spring forage for honeybees, and blooms into the summer.
Echium Echium vulgare is most widely known, though there are about 60 additional species Shrub 300 - 1,000 pounds honey, depending on soil. 500-2000 lbs of dark blue pollen. Nectar; pollen is dark blue in color In CA, Spring blooming plant with repeat bloom. Fall bloom provides nectar for bees for overwintering. The most unusual feature of Echium vulgare is the protection of the nectar inside the flower from vaporization (when itís hot) or flushing away (when it rains). It is why almost for 2 months this plant is a stable source of nectar for bees. Additionally this plant produces nectar throughout the day unlike most plants which produce nectar for a short period of time. If the bees have a good access to Echium they can collect between 12-20 lbs of nectar a day. The concentration of sugars in the nectar vary 22.6-48.3% depending on the quality of the soil, and not on the amount of rain. The honey is light amber in color and ver y fragrant with a pleasant taste, and does not crystallize for 9-15 months.
Goldenrod Solidago, various species; native preferred Perennial 25 - 50 pounds honey Mostly for nectar; pollen granules can be too big for honeybees, though will use it if nothing else available Blooms July through September, and so is important for the timing of a colony preparing for winter. Long bloom period of 25 days; grows anywhere and can be invasive. . Honey is dark amber, strong tasting, rich in protein and high in minerals. Medicinal plant that helps with fungus, especially in urinary tract.
Melissa, also called Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis Perennial medicinal herb 150 - 250 pounds honey; 50-120 pounds pollen Nectar Prolonged bloom of 45 - 50 days generally in summer, but with repeat blooming in CA. Delicate honey with very light, pinkish color.
Phacelia, Tansy Phacelia tanacetifolia Annual 180 - 1,500 pounds honey, depending on soil quality and depth; 300-1000 pounds of pollen. Nectar and pollen One of the best spring forage sources for honeybees. Blooms 45-60 days and continuously produces nectar throughout the day. Can be seeded several times per year. Prefers three feet of topsoil.
Honeybee Plants for an Ornamental Garden      
Black Locust Robinia pseudoacacia Tree, large 800 - 1,200 pounds honey Nectar A consistently good nectar source year after year.
Asters Aster, many varieties Perennial flowers 30 - 50 pounds honey; 100 pounds pollen Nectar and pollen A good plant for late summer and fall, though should be planted in limited amounts. An advantage is that asters will go through frost to 28 degrees. A disadvantage is that honey from asters will crystallize very quickly, making it necessary to feed bees in the winter if the hive has too much honey from this one source.
Barberry Berberis spp. Shrub 30 - 35 pounds honey Nectar Provides nice color in autumn garden. Used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory. Honey has a golden amber color.
Clover, White Sweet Melilotus alba Annual cover crop and honeybee forage; can be perennial 200 - 300 pounds honey Nectar and pollen A top honeybee plant. Left alone and watered, can grow to 6 feet tall. Plant around garden border.
Clover, Yellow Sweet Melilotus officinalis Annual 300 - 400 pounds honey Nectar and pollen A top honeybee plant., which is nice to plant near the hives. Slightly higher nectar yield than white variety.
Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara Perennial herb 25-35 pounds honey; 80-300 pounds high quality pollen Nectar and pollen Early spring source of pollen and nectar. Medicinally used as a cough suppressant. An important honeybee plant in Russia.
Coriander Coriandrum sativum Annual culinary herb 200 - 350 pounds honey; 100 - 150 pounds pollen Nectar and pollen An important essential oil plant. Varroa do not like the smell of coriander, so aids bees in ridding themselves of mites.
Cornflower (also called Bachelor's Button) Centaurea cyanus Annual flower 100 - 150 pounds honey Nectar; small amount of white pollen Attractive garden favorite with blue flower. 'Produces a pinkish-white honey. Petals are used medicinally for the heart.
Elderberry Sambucus nigra Shrub 20 - 60 pounds honey; 600 - 800 pounds pollen per acre Nectar and excellent pollen source Blooms for 10 - 15 days. Honeybees love the pollen. The annual variety of elderberry, Sambucus ebulus, is also a good honeybee plant.
Fireweed Chamerion angustifolium Perennial 800 pounds honey Nectar and pollen A unique and important, showy medicinal plant. Thrives in wild areas where there is a lot of ash in the soil, and is invasive in these conditions. Short-lived in a garden setting.
Hawthorne Crataegus spp. Tree 50 - 100 pounds honey; 200 pounds pollen Nectar and pollen Used medicinally for cardiovascular diseases. Honey is distinguished by being very fragrant.
Hazelnut Corylus spp. Shrub 200-500 pounds pollen Pollen Early spring source of pollen and nectar.
Heather Erica vulgaris, though many varieties Shrub 100 - 200 pounds honey Nectar; the pollen granules can be too large for honeybees. All varieties are very good. Has long bloom. Heather honey is reddish brown in color. Medicinal shrub.
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia, and many other species and varieties Perennial 70 - 120 pounds honey; 250 - 300 pounds pollen. Nectar and pollen An important essential oil plant. Varroa do not like the smell of lavender, so aids bees in ridding themselves of mites.
Linden (Lime in Europe) Tilia spp, especially Tilia cordata Tree, large 800 - 1,100 pounds honey Nectar Produces a high volume of honey on a cycle of every five to eight years, with lower volume of nectar other years.
Milkweed Asclepias spp. (55 species) Perennial 120 - 250 pounds honey, depending on soil and if good fertilization Nectar All species are great for honeybees. Nectar is so abundant that it is possible to shake the blossom and actually see the nectar fall. Asclepias syriaca has the highest honey yield.
Mint Mentha piperata, though many species and varieties Perennial herb 150 - 200 pounds honey; Menta arvensis has same nectar flow but more pollen, at 250 - 300 pounds Nectar and pollen Blooms for one month. An important essential oil plant.
Oak - English Oak, Common Oak **** Quercus robur Tree, large 50 - 150 pounds honey; 500 pounds pollen Nectar, pollen, honeydew **** Oaks are important trees for beekeepers to know about. They bloom in May or June and the nectar is poisonous for bees; when fed to larvae, the larvae can die. It is important to have other nectar sources for honeybees during the oak nectar flow, such as phacelia and borage. The nectar is not poisonous for humans.
Poppy, Opium Papaver somniferum Annual flower 20 - 30 pounds honey; 80 - 120 pounds pollen, which is dark blue in color Nectar and pollen Showy garden flowers.
Rose, Wild - specifically "Dog Rose" Rosa canina Shrub 20 - 30 pounds honey; 80 pounds pollen Nectar and pollen Plant several old roses as a welcome addition to an ornamental garden, though the nectar and pollen are very limited.
Sunflowers Helianthus spp. Annual flower 30 - 100 pounds honey; 200 - 250 pounds pollen Nectar and pollen Huge range of nectar variations depending on variety. Produce a "tar" which honeybees get stuck in, reducing the number of field bees. Golden to yellowish-white honey, which crystallizes easily due to high glucose content.
Thyme Thymus serpyllum, a wild creeping thyme, though many additional species and varieties Perennial herb 50 - 150 pounds honey; 200 - 250 pounds pollen Nectar and pollen Plant in rocks around garden.
Tulips - old species Tulipa spp. Bulb 20 - 50 pounds honey; 300 - 400 pounds pollen Nectar (some) and dark, almost black, pollen in old species tulips Honeybees like old species tulips; pollen grains are too big in modern tulips for honeybees. However, if other botanical sources, honeybees may go to other plants rather than the tulips.
Valerian Valeriana officinalis Perennial herb 60 - 70 pounds honey Nectar Note, this is the medicinal and not the magenta-colored ornamental.
Veronica Veronica officinalis Perennial herb 30 - 35 pounds honey; 150 pounds pollen Nectar and pollen Attractive, medicinal plant that is used for many ailments.
Willow Salix caprea preferred, though many other species Shrub initially, then becomes slow growing tree 100 - 150 pounds honey; 1,500 pounds pollen Nectar and pollen The very highest quality pollen you can find anywhere, with bloom of 10 - 15 days. Messy, as willows drop twigs and flowers.