En EspaŅol

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.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - March 12, 2011

From: Schulenburg, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Native wildflowers attracting bees in Schulenberg TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

What native wildflowers are honey bees attracted to?

ANSWER:

Why is it that the shortest questions take the longest time to answer?

Begin by reading three websites that we have found to help you figure this out. The first two, Celebrating Wildflowers-Pollinators-Bee Pollination and Celebrating Wildflowers-Pollinators-The Birds and the Bees, are both from the United States Forest Service. The third website is from the USDA, Bee Pastures-Floral Havens Where Pollinators Can Prosper.

Will it surprise you to know that "honey bees" are not even native to North America? In 1622 the European colonists of the New World brought Apis mellifera, honey bee, to North America for the  production of honey. Since that time, obviously, many honey bees have escaped to become wild or feral bees.  Honey bees have continued to be moved around to pollinate crops, and some of those crops have been non-native, too. There are business who rent their bees to farmers for pollination of their crops, moving hives around the country to be in the right spot during blooming season.

There are lots of beekeepers in Central Texas, both businesses and hobbyists, and we're sure there are plenty of wild honey bees around, too. But without going out into the fields with a pad and pencil and counting bee visitors to each wildflower, we have no way which "tame"  or wild non-native honey bee or members of the many other species of bee pollinators that belong here are hovering over those flowers. So, can we agree to talk about "bees" without referring specifically to "honey bees?"

Now, let's get down to what kind of bees feed at what kind of flowers. You have to understand that pollinating plants never enters a bee's mind, if it has a mind. They are out to get nectar and pollen for themselves and their families to eat. It's just a miracle of adaptation that flowering plants have learned how to attract bees and what kinds of bees can fill up at what kind of flowers. There are over four thousand species of bees native to North America. The flowers that attract each bee partly depends on the fragrance of that flower and partly on whether the bee is a short-tongued or long-tongued bee. A short-tongued bee can only feed on an open flower, like asters. A long-tongued bee can get to the nectar in a deep flower, like bluebells or lupines. Also, we have to consider if bees are attracted to certain colors. Bees cannot see red, but can see yellows and blues. Now that we have given you way too much information, here is a list of wildflowers native to Central Texas that have the characteristics to attract bees, and remember, this is just a sample, there are lots more wildflowers in your area that attract bees or butterflies or hummingbirds, all first-rate pollinators:

Amblyolepis setigera (Huisache daisy)

Callirhoe involucrata (Winecup)

Coreopsis lanceolata (Lanceleaf coreopsis)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

Linum berlandieri var. berlandieri (Berlandier's yellow flax)

Machaeranthera tanacetifolia (Tahoka daisy)

Lupinus texensis (Texas bluebonnet)

Melampodium leucanthum (Blackfoot daisy)

Salvia engelmannii (Engelmann's sage)

Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower)

Helianthus maximiliani (Maximilian sunflower)

Eustoma exaltatum (Catchfly prairie gentian)

Penstemon cobaea (Wild foxglove)

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Amblyolepis setigera


Callirhoe involucrata


Coreopsis lanceolata


Echinacea purpurea


Linum berlandieri var. berlandieri


Machaeranthera tanacetifolia


Lupinus texensis


Melampodium leucanthum


Salvia engelmannii


Helianthus maximiliani


Eustoma exaltatum


Penstemon cobaea

 

 

More Wildflowers Questions

Bluebonnet blooming in July in Leander TX
July 27, 2009 - I have a bluebonnet growing in my front yard in July! Early this year, my son planted the bluebonnet seeds. We did not expect them to grow since we planted them in February/March. One plant grew ...
view the full question and answer

Possible identification of Stemless Evening Primrose
March 07, 2007 - Recently, in a very dry area, some interesting plants have emerged. The plant looks like a very short dandelion but the yellow flowers look like yellow morning glories. The flowers are open in the m...
view the full question and answer

Shearing Pink Skullcaps
September 21, 2014 - My pink skullcap plants keep dying. The ones that are still alive are about 3 years old, but have large sections of dry twigs. Do I shear them and hope they come back or are they gone? I live in Helot...
view the full question and answer

Wildflowers for a pond in MO
September 10, 2011 - I have a spring fed pond in Missouri and would like to plant perennial wildflowers in the area around it. Are there any that would do better or others that are not recommended? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

How to Propagate Mexican Bush Sage in Marble Falls, Texas
September 14, 2010 - I need advice on when, how to separate Mexican bush sage. Ours is happy and HUGE but is now sprouting from the roots at the base. Since we've been so successful with this plant, we want to divide it...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center