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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Sunday - March 09, 2014

From: Appleton, WI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Pollinators, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Effect on taste of honey from pollen gathered by honeybees in Appleton WI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

in the flower box.. We are planting perennial or self-planting annuals on our fields and open areas to feed honey bees for our apiary. We found a source and then lost it telling what effect these wildflowers have on the quality of honey..color, tendency to crystallize, taste, etc. Could you please recommend another source to provide these answers? For instance, honeybees love sunflowers, but they tend to make honey crystallize and taste strong. We don't want to plant a lot of perennials and then find out they hurt honey production. Thanks!

ANSWER:

This is somewhat out of our range of expertise. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, maintains a Native Plant Database. We are committed to recommending plants native not only to North America but to the area in which those plants grow natively. The webpage on each plant in that database includes where that plant is native, what its moisture, soil and sunlight needs are and, in many cases, what are the pollinators of that plant. What it does not include (if the plant produces pollen attractive to honeybees) is what flavor honey will result from that pollen.

So, since we obviously can't help you, we are going to hunt for some beekeepers associations or information about this process. You can then access our Native Plant Database and locate plants that you have found in your research and determine if they are native to your area, which will usually mean they can tolerate your soils and climate in Outgamie, Calumet and Winnebago Counties in east central Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection - Bees and Honey. This site has a number of other useful links on the subject.

Honey Bee Ware

YouTube on Beekeeping in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Beekeeping Associations

From the Xerces Society, Upper Midwest Native Plants for Bees. On Page 2 of this site, you will find a list of native plants under "Choosing the Right Flower" from which we chose the list of plants below.

To further assist you, we are going to select some plants native to Wisconsin that are pollinated by bees, listed as "of special value to bees," perennial and show on the USDA Plant Profile Map for that plant as being native to your area:

Lupinus perennis (Sundial lupine)

Asclepias incarnata (Swamp milkweed)

Physostegia virginiana (Fall obedient plant)

Penstemon digitalis (Mississippi penstemon)

Salix eriocephala (Missouri river willow)

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Sundial lupine
Lupinus perennis

Swamp milkweed
Asclepias incarnata

Fall obedient plant
Physostegia virginiana

Mississippi penstemon
Penstemon digitalis

Missouri river willow
Salix eriocephala

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