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Beekeeper’s Notes June 2017: Mind the (June) Gap

Published on: 1 Jun, 2017
Updated on: 1 Jun, 2017

Hugh Coakley keeps bees in Worplesdon. In the latest of his monthly notes, he talks about why June isn’t necessarily busting out all over for bees.

We have had the beautiful spring with all its abundance. Pollen and nectar coming in in quantity and the bees busy whenever they had the chance. One ray of sun and they were out on the forage.

Bee feasting on apple blossom

Bee feasting on nectar in the apple blossom. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Apart from the hedgerows and verges, you have the early flowers on the lime and willow, apple and pear and other blossoms and flowers that both humans and bees delight in.

So no shortage in the first half of the year.

But then in some years, there is a dearth in June. Not every year and probably linked to the amount of rain in the spring. It can mean though that bees run short of stores and need to be fed by the beekeeper.

We sometimes get a alert from the National Bee Unit if they get reports of a shortage of promising forage in particular areas.

Can we plant particular flowers in our garden to fill that possible June gap?

It is hard to know what will attract the bees in your garden at any one time. There are some dead certs like fruit blossom but these are too early. Poppies and geraniums work wonders and are flowering about now along with brambles which are just coming out.

Honeybee on blackberry flowers, Bedfordshire. Click on the photo to enlarge. Photo by Orangeaurochs from Sandy, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom

I have heard that simple petalled flowers are the best, not the complex petalled varieties. So wild roses should be good. Having said that, the simple petal theory didn’t work this year for my poor unloved hawthorn which was in fantastic bloom but solidly ignored by the bees and other insects as far as I could see. Is it my tree or my bees or is it me?

Your own observation is as good a judge as any. If you see bumble bees and honey bees feasting on a plant – success.

If not – that is your answer.

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Responses to Beekeeper’s Notes June 2017: Mind the (June) Gap

  1. Harry Eve Reply

    June 6, 2017 at 7:58 pm

    Visiting open gardens is a good way to find plants that attract bees.

    On Sunday I found that astrantia was attracting a honeybee.

    Bumblebees were enjoying a “Pineapple Tree” (not the one that produces the fruit but named after its scent apparently).

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