Bee and herbs seem to go very well together don’t they? Together they conjure up the quintessential summer afternoon, sweet scents and the gentle hum of bees, tea and cakes, and a comfortable chair in the sun.
I don’t think that bees have a real preference for herbs, they are only really interested in the pollen and nectar content, but three things that sit very happily together are bees, honey, herbs, all linked somehow with wellbeing and feeling good. Herbs for health, for just smelling nice, for making our food more delightful, honey to sweeten our lives and just a lovely word in itself and bees of course for making the others possible.
The Herb Society
The UK Herb Society has a Bee Aware Campaign this year and Debs Cook, (see also her wonderful herb blog Herbal Haven) their tireless webmaster and herb/ bee enthusiast has posted some excellent herby/honey/bee related articles, and also provided this great photo for the cover of their March magazine.
See these pages and more for garden/bee/food ideas.
and I am delighted to say they have a page about my BUZZ exhibition so here is something I wrote for them about bees and herbs …
“It's interesting that many of the flowers that delight the bees also delight us and the connection between bees and herbs is well documented. Rev. L L Langstroth, apiarist clergyman and teacher who was considered the Father of American Beekeeping, said "If there is any plant which would justify cultivation exclusively for bees, it is the borage”, and borage is just one of many herbs that they visit.
The tiny solitary bees like umbelliferous plants so angelica, fennel and dill will attract them. The bunching together of all those tiny flowers into one inflorescence makes them easy for small bees to access. Dill and fennel will also attract pest eating lacewings and ladybirds too. Daisy like flowers and of course the humble dandelion have similar closely bunched flowers which give bees a nice big banqueting table making the next nectar and pollen stop a very short hop. Mints, sages, thymes, basil and oregano will all attract bees too but of course you must let them flower. I have read that letting herbs flower will reduce the intensity of the flavour but maybe there is a compromise somewhere or just grow twice as many! In fact you can also let a few vegetables run to flower too, especially early salad greens. Bees, like herbs, like sunny sheltered spots. Strong wind can blow little bees off the flowers, even though they do have 6 feet.
Another great advantage to having bees around is just the sound of them! I have a lovely memory from last summer of a particularly drowsy afternoon, sitting in the sun and watching the Red Tailed Bumble bees and the Carder Bees drifting amongst the lavender and chives. I painted both of them for the show.
I am going to join! I just love what they do. Everything about herbs presses all the right buttons for me!
Bee Flowers, Herbs
Today was my deadline to get the first eight flowers roughed out and assembled on Photoshop, just to see what they will look like framed. There will be a few changes but it’s a start! As always I am in two minds . The designer in me wants a more stylised approach like the chive.. yes the pink lollipop is a chive :) ….the naturalist in me wants them to be more as you might see them growing.
I also decided to paint an additional B. Terrestris, just to get the much loved herb Comfrey into the show. (It’s is one of the above too) The structure of its curling flower head is very beautiful and elegant as are the two rabbits ear leaves that curve up from the stem..
Bombus Terrestris and the beautiful curving flower head of Comfrey
Watercolor on Arches HP 8”x 8”