Beekeeping is an exciting activity because you not only become an expert on bees but also gain knowledge in woodworking and gardening!
Planting bee-friendly plants in your garden is a way to give your bees local resources so they don’t have to forage far away.
But what flowers do you choose?
For example, I love lilac bushes. But are lilacs helpful in attracting bees, and do they offer good forage?
Below I’ll tell you everything I found out…
Do Bees Like Lilacs?
Lilacs attract bees because they produce abundant nectar and pollen. They grow in clusters at the end of the branches, giving bees easy access to the flowers. Lilacs flower in spring and summer, offering a good food source for bees in the honey season.
You have the perfect combination if you are a beekeeper and a gardener! Your garden will help your bees, and your bees will help your garden!
However, did you know that not all garden plants will attract bees, even if they have an impressive flower display? Bees need several things to make a plant attractive to them as a food source.
If you grow plants in your garden that are excellent in all respects for pollinators, the bees will be attracted to those plants and will ignore the others.
For example, some flowers provide a good source of pollen but not nectar, and others are a good source of nectar but not pollen. Therefore, flowers that offer both these resources in their blooms will receive the most attention from the bees since they do not have to go to multiple plants to find everything they need.
To figure out whether bees like plants such as lilacs, we need to examine the time of year the plant flowers, how many flowers the plant produces, and what resources the flowers offer to pollinators.
Are Lilacs Good For Bees?
Lilac bushes are perennial. Perennial plants generally provide better bee resources since their flowers contain nectar and pollen. This is a strategy the plant uses since it depends upon pollinators for reproduction as opposed to other plants that use the wind or other means of propagation.
The lilac plant is a woody shrub rather than a plant, so they are often chosen to create a hedge or a border in many gardens. In addition, these plants grow for several seasons and do not need to be replanted each season as annuals do.
The characteristics of lilacs mean they are off to a good start for attracting bees!
Another factor that makes lilacs good for bees is that the flowers are formed in clusters at the tips of the branches.
The flower clusters mean the bees can walk from flower to flower, collecting everything they need without expending energy flying from flower to flower. The flowers provide a substantial food source in a concentrated area.
The position of the flowers at the extremities of the branches means they are easily visible and accessible to the bees and provide an easy landing platform for insects.
Flower Color Matters For Bee Plants
Bees use a combination of detection methods to find suitable flowers to forage, and sight is essential for finding the right blooms. This makes the color of the plant’s flowers an important feature for attracting bees.
Lilac plans come in various flower colors, including light purple, dark purple, white, pink, and even magenta.
Keep in mind the color of the blossoms when selecting plants to attract bees. Bees do not see red very well, so they are not attracted to red or reddish-colored flowers. However, these flowers generally attract other pollinators, such as hummingbirds, moths, and butterflies.
The fact that bees do not see red is why beekeepers use red light when working their bees at night. The red light disturbs the bees less than white light, allowing the beekeeper to work in the hive without aggravating the bees.
Bees can see the color spectrum, including the ultra-violet spectrum in the 300 nm to 650 nm range. This characteristic means that the best color flowers the bees can identify by sight are shades of purple, blue, green, and yellow.
White colors average out at the 550 nm wavelength, meaning that bees can see white flowers, but they tend to treat this as a neutral color.
Choosing a lilac plant that produces light or dark purple colors will be more attractive to bees than varieties with pink or red flowers.
Top Tip! Do not choose lilac cultivars that produce double-flowers. The extra petals make it more difficult for the bees to reach the nectar buried deep in the flower.
Do Lilacs Produce Nectar For Bees?
Nectar is an important food for bees to provide energy to workers. The nectar is transformed into honey, the fuel that keeps the hive buzzing!
Lilacs are perennial plants and are known to produce good quantities of nectar to attract bee pollinators.
The nectar volumes are substantial, and the flowers are close together, making it easy for the bees to collect the nectar.
Do Lilacs Produce Pollen For Bees?
Pollen is a crucial source of proteins for bees and their growing larvae, which makes plants that offer pollen attractive to foraging bees.
Lilac flowers offer good volumes of pollen in their flowers, which, combined with the nectar, makes this plant attractive to bees as a readily available food source.
Why Do Bees Like Lilacs?
Lilacs begin flowering in spring and will continue to bloom throughout the summer. This long-flowering characteristic provides abundant resources for the bees through their most productive season.
The long flowering period of these shrubs is an added advantage for the bees.
To sum up, the attributes that make this plant an excellent bee-friendly plant include:
- Good source of nectar
- An abundant source of pollen
- Flower clusters provide a concentration of food
- Purple varieties are the most attractive color for bees
- Flowering season corresponds to honey bees’ most productive time of year
Top Tip! Lilac plants produce flowers more abundantly if they are not pruned. Pruning stimulates new vegetative growth but no flowers. The flowers are best produced on old wood branches rather than new-growth branches!
Lilac plants offer good pollen and nectar resources in large clusters of flowers. These resources are attractive to bees, making them an excellent shrub to grow in your garden to attract bees or feed your own bees in an apiary.
The long flowering season of lilacs also gives the bees a good food source throughout spring and summer. Lilacs are an excellent choice to attract bees to your garden or feed your own bees, and the colorful flower clusters will brighten your garden!