I always relax a little when my willow starts to flower, as it marks the beginning of decent quantities of nectar and pollen for my bees. I have quite a few varieties of willow, and the first to flower here is Salix daphnoides, the violet willow. Not only does it flower early, but the shoots are the colour of damsons, and with the same ‘bloom’. Last year, my willow didn’t start to produce until much later in the month, probably because we had bad weather quite late. The two links here are to articles that I wrote at the time. Busy Bees. Willow Pollen.
This year, I noticed that there were a few catkins that had started to change from white to yellow two days ago, but no sign of any bees. The picture below shows the first of the catkins as it changes.
The silver hairs are what the catkin is like before it starts to produce, and the yellow bits are the individual flowers within the catkin. Each flower produces nectar and pollen, but do not appear to be open yet.
Today the weather warmed up, and I was surrounded by bees foraging whilst I worked. Well, surrounded isn’t technically correct, I was between them, and their forage. I took a bit of time off to take some pictures for this post, and got one or two really good shots. I also noticed/remembered a couple more useful bee forage plants.
I haven’t been idle in the evenings. I recently wrote two articles on the Worldwide Permaculture Network, the most recent was about the use of the Permaculture tool of Zoning, in relation to planting trees and plants to produce pollen and nectar for bee forage.
Before you think that I’ve finally crossed the threshold from eccentric, to dangerous, I’m not actually writing about plants speaking, or making sounds, more like being open to learn from what you see. I was going to use the title, Permaculture Principles – Observe and Interact, but I did that at this time last year HERE. So I’ve gone for something a little bit different in the title, even if the thrust of the post is the same.
Today I was potting on seedlings of the Amur Cork tree (Phellodendrum Amurensis). The seeds were sown last year, in a 12 inch shallow terracotta pot, and have been outside, unprotected, all Winter. I wasn’t sure if they had survived, but had not seen any evidence of dieback on the stems. I’m growing them for my bees, as the trees are a good source of nectar, flowering in June, and I can also harvest wood for fuel. However it was what I saw inside the pot that gave me the incentive to write this post.
I was feeling quite pleased with myself after finishing my last post on February Bee Forage Plants. I had produced a post that was likely to interest beekeepers, and managed to slip a few Permaculture Principles into it too. However, whilst walking the dogs yesterday, the haze of smugness that was surrounding me parted, and I realised that I had missed out some good February Bee forage plants. Now I never claimed that the post was definitive, but I wanted to include the additional information, so rather than just update the original article, I though that I would write a second post.