Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Mixed Bag of Bumblebee Plants for Vancouver Island (Natives and Exotics)

This list is a work of progress: check in for updates as I continue to organize this information. Also, consult with your local nursery to get the native species of the if at all possible.  Check out this blogpost for a short list of the top plants for bumblebees on the Island.

* Denotes a medicinal plant for bees
BOLD denotes special interest for bumblebee plants (buzz pollinated, longer corollas or special relationships, ie trip pollination)

Native and Near Native Shrubs: Willow (Salix spp.) maybe the most important plant for honeybees and significant for bumblebee queens, Red Osier Dogwood (Cornus sericea) is another good one for weavers, Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) also an essential bee plant because it blooms over a period of months, Black Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata) Loads of nectar, berries used for dye, Hairy Manzanita (Arctostaphylos columbiana)
June Gap: Ninebark (Physocarpus spp.) native species is Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus), Spirea spp., native is Spirea douglassi, Mock Orange (Philadelphus lewisii), Native Roses
Edible/Drinkable Shrubs: Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis), Oregon Grape (Berberis spp.), Kinnikinnik (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.),  Evergreen Huckleberry  (Vaccinium ovatum), Wood’s Rose (Rosa Woodsii), Prickly Rose (R. acicularis), Blueberry Vaccinium spp., Potentilla spp.
Sumac (Rhus spp.), Blue Elderberry (Sambucus cerulea), Currants (Ribes spp.) clove currant and red-flowering don’t plant European black currants, Raspberry (Rubus spp.) Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus), High Bush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), Labrador tea (Rhododendron groenlandicum),
Native and Near-Native Trees: Arbutus (Arbutus menziesii), Chokecherry, Crabapple the native is Pacific Crabapple (Malus fusca), Pincherry, Saskatoon, Western Mountain Ash (Sorbus scopulina)
Native Vines: Virgin’s Bower Clematis (Clematis ligustifolium) beware of invasive look-alikes, Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa)
Exotic Trees: Redbuds (Cercis spp.), Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), Linden (Tilia spp.) avoid silver linden (Tilia tomentosa); Stone Fruit Trees: apple, cherry, peach, apricot, pear, quince, and plum
Exotic Shrubs: Spirea spp., Climbing roses, Potentilla spp. important late-blooming shrub
Edible Native Perennials: Native violets, Nodding onion (Allium cernuum) and other native alliums
Early Shade-tolerant Perennials: Bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.) toxic, Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum spp.), Canadian Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) and other Aquilegia spp. toxic,  
Native and Near Native Perennials: Spring-gold (Lomatium utriculatum) an early-blooming umbel esp. important for short-tongued bees like the Western Bumblebee
Deltoid Balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea), Large-leafed Avens (Geum macrifolium) and other Geum spp.
Broad-leafed Shooting Star (Dodecatheon hendersonii), Milk Vetch (Astragalus spp.), Native Silvery Lupin (Lupinus argenteus) and other Lupinus spp., Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia spp.), Broomrape (Orobanche spp.) Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor), Native Larkspurs (Delphium menziesii ) HIGH toxicity warning
Penstemon spp., Canadian Milk Vetch (Astragalus Canadensis and other native spp.), Blue Gentian (Gentiana spp.), Monkey Flower (Mimulus sp.)
Camassia spp., Woodland Strawberry (Fragraria vesca), Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium), Potentilla spp. native species and cultivars are great, Common Harebell (Campanula rotundifolia and other native and exotic spp.),
Plains Prickly Pear (Opuntia polyacantha), Gumweed (Grindelia spp.), Rocky Mountain Bee Plant (Cleome serrulata), Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum), Erigeron spp., Native Lilies (Erythronium spp.), Jacob’s Ladder (Polemonium spp.), Cranesbill Geranium (Geranium spp.)
Near Native Annual: Bienenfreunde aka Lacy Phacelia (Phacelia tanacetifolia) very important bee pasture plant for nectar and pollen—stagger-plant this throughout the growing season. Good for honeybees and bumblebees.
Late-Blooming Native and Near-Native Asteraceae: Joe Pye Weed (Eutrochium spp.) Blanket Flower (Gaillardia spp.), Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.), Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritaceae), Asters (Symphyotrichum spp.), Goldenrod (Solidago spp.), Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.), Coneflowers (Ratibida spp.), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia spp.), Gold Star (Crocidium multicaule)
Medicinal Exotic Perennials: *Turtlehead: (Chelone glabra), *Sage (Salvia spp.) *Meadow Sage (Salvia pratensis), *Oregano, *Thyme, *Dragonhead (Dracocephalum spp.), *Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
Exotic Perennials: Catmint (Nepeta cultivars) N. cataria can be invasive. Very important long-blooming plant for honeybees and bumblebees
California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) can be weedy, Liatris spp., Comfrey (Symphytum spp.), Red Clover (Trifolium pratense), Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) comes with an invasive warning, Hollyhocks (and other Malva spp.), Wine Cup (Callirhoe involucrata), Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), Sea Holly (Eryngeum spp.), Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro), Caterpillar Flower (Phacelia bolerandi) works in dappled shade, Masterwort (Astrantia major), Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale), Verbena spp.,
Exotic Annuals: Borage (Borago officinalis) NB for nectar, Hairy Vetch (Vicia villosa) can be weedy, Moroccan Toadflax (Linaria maroccana) plant instead of invasive toadflax spp., Blue Shrimp Plant (Cerinthe major), Globe Gilia (Gilia capitata), Zinnias (choose the large ones) Calendula (Calendula officinalis) long-blooming and open access,
Edible Exotic Annuals: Scarlet Runner Beans, squash (Cucurbitae)
Medicinal Exotic Annuals: *Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum), *Tobacco (Nicotiana rustica),
*Nightshades (Tomato, Pepper, Eggplant, Potato),
Exotic Tubers: Dahlias (Avoid doubles)

Extra Edibles: Let some of your veggies bloom for bees: radishes, kale, leeks, carrots, parsnips
Extra bee-friendly herbage: cilantro, fennel and dill
Warning: Don’t plant Sainfoin (Onobrychis spp.)—I have recently found out that it is invasive in certain areas.

Sources and Recommended Reading:
Victory Gardens for Bees: A DIY Guide to Saving the Bees by Lori Weidenhammer
Gardens Aflame: Garry Oak Meadows of BC’s South Coast by Maleea Acker, published by New Star Books
Common Pollinators of British Columbia: A Visual Identification Guide created by Border Free Bees and the Environmental Youth Alliance (available as a pdf online).
Bees: An Identification and Native Plant Foraging Guide by Heather Holm. (Best for Eastern US, but some good info on more widespread native plants for bees.)
The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees by Joseph S. Wilson and Olivia J. Messinger Carril.
Conserving Bumble Bees: Guidelines for Creating and Managing Habitat for America’s Declining Pollinators by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. (This is available online for free.)
Bumblebees of the Western United States by Koch, Strange, and Williams
Bumblebees of North America: An Identification Guide by Williams, Thorp, Richardson and Colla, Princeton University Press, 2014.

Information on how to avoid neonicatinoids:

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