Trees & Plants for bees in France

When looking at the general habitat structure and the flowers and plants required for bees it soon becomes clear that it isn’t a one size fits all situation any more than it is for all birds, however if we look first at the native trees, grasses and plants that either are or would have been abundant in our local patch we won’t go far wrong albeit some bees have very specific requirements. All of these will also play an important role for many other pollinator insects.

The following native trees, plants and shrubs are selected only for their outstanding importance in providing forage for the majority of types of bee, (Honey, Bumble and Solitary), and should only be seen as providing a foundation. Many other native plants and trees also play their part. 

Trees, bushes and climbers:

Gorse, Ulex europaeus.   Pollen – variable flowering including the winter period.

Hazel, Corylus sp.    Pollen.  January/April

Willows, Salix sp.    Pollen and nectar.  February/April

Cornelian cherry, Cornus mas.    Pollen and nectar - February/March

Blackthorn, Prunus spinosa.    Pollen and nectar - March/April

Common Box, Buxus sempervirens.    Pollen - March/April

Crab apple, Malus silvestris.    Pollen and nectar - April

False Acacia, Robinia pseudoacacia. (Naturalised).   Nectar – April (can be invasive)

Cherry, Prunus avium.       Pollen and nectar - April

Bird Cherry, Prunus padus.      Pollen and nectar - April

Service tree, Sorbus domestica.       Pollen – May

Bramble, Rubus fruticosus.     Pollen and nectar – May/October

Honeysuckle, Lonicera periclymenum.      Nectar -June/October

Sweet Chestnut, Castanea sativa.      Pollen and nectar, June/July

Common Lime, Tilia x europaea.     Pollen and nectar, June/July

Small-leaved Lime, Tilia cordata.    Pollen and Nectar, July

Ivy - Hedera helix.     Pollen and nectar, September/November

Perennial and short lived perennial flowers:

Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale. All year including winter and early spring.

Violets, Viola sp. - February/May.

Ground Ivy, Glechoma hederacea. - March/June

Bugle, Ajuga sp. April/June

Thistles, Cirsium sp. / Cardus sp. May/November

Knapweeds, Centaurea sp. June/November

Lungwort, Pulmonaria officinalis. – February/June

Red dead nettle, Lamium purpureum. – February/May

Hemp-agrimony, Eupatorium cannabinum. – August/October

Clovers, Trifolium sp. – June/November

Comfrey, Symphytum officinale.  April/September

Vetches,  Vicia sp. April/September.

Michaelmas daisies, Aster sp.  August/November

Herbs play an extremely important role and many are or can be cultivated with ease, often as specific named cultivars. Principally nectar providers.

Rosemary, Rosmarinus sp. - Can flower periodically throughout the year.

Thymes, Thymus sp.  - Spring/Summer

Mints, Mentha sp. – Summer/Autumn

Lavender, Lavandula sp. – Late Spring/Autumn

Winter Savoury, Satureja Montana. –  August/October

Oregano, Origanum sp. - Summer

Borage, Borago officinalis. – Annual or short lived perennial, flowers anytime if mild.

Hyssop, Hyssopus officinalis. – Summer/Autumn.

Some of our native flowers that are annuals and biennials depend on the turning of the soil surface that is usually connected with cultivation and the growing of crops. Few of these are commonplace anymore due to herbicide use and improved harvesting / grain separation methods. In most cases this means only two plants of any significance for bees.

Poppy, Papaver rhoeas. – Spring/Autumn.

Cornflower, Centaurea cyanus Spring/Autumn