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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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Wednesday - November 30, 2011

From: Melbourne, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Wildlife Gardens, Wildflowers
Title: Bee-pasture recommendations for AR
Answered by: Larry Larson

QUESTION:

Hello, I live in Melbourne, Ar, up in the NE corner of the state. I keep bees and would like to put in a couple acres of something for them. I'm leaning towards Viper's Bugloss. Do you know where I can find these seeds in bulk, or anything else about how to plant this? I have other property that doesn't get full sun that I'd like to fill with something the bees can benefit the most from. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

ANSWER:

Greetings,

 That sounds a great idea, to plant a few acres in bee-friendly plants to support them and keep the bees happy.  Unfortunately, we can’t help you much with Vipers Bugloss.  Although it is naturalised in many parts of the continent, it is an import from Europe/Asia. It is even considered an invasive species in Washington.  The Wildflower Center mission is to promote the use and conservation of native plants, so we simply don’t have that information.

Let me instead encourage you to buy some native plant seeds and make a native bee pasture.  This is discussed in an article by the University of Georgia Extension – Establishing a Bee Pasture. What I have used for my plant recommendations is to start with a generic list of bee-friendly plants from About.com which I have matched with the recommended plants list for Arkansas that is here on the Wildflower Centers website.  The Honeybee Conservancy recommended that you should  “Plan for blooms season-round. Plant at least three different types of flowers to ensure blooms through as many seasons as possible, thus providing bees with a constant source of food.”
Assuming that you are looking for a year-around bee-food area rather than a mono-culture honey, I am listing a variety of matching species.  These are:

Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (Common elderberry)

Eupatoriadelphus fistulosus (Trumpetweed)

Penstemon cobaea (Wild foxglove)

Penstemon digitalis (Mississippi penstemon)

Penstemon grandiflorus (Large beardtongue)

Penstemon murrayanus (Scarlet beardtongue)

Echinacea angustifolia (Black sampson)

Echinacea pallida (Pale purple coneflower)

Echinacea paradoxa (Yellow coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Eastern purple coneflower)

 OK, that’s a pretty long list; and you also asked about where to buy seeds.  Our Suppliers list has the capability to search for suppliers that are close to a location.  I tried that for your city and had this result.

However, another route you may want to consider is that bulk seed suppliers may already have a mix, ready to go!  So, it's worthwhile to contact them and discuss this.  For instance, Native American Seed has a Butterfly mix that looks like it would do very nicely for your purpose.

 

From the Image Gallery


Common elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis

Joe-pye weed
Eutrochium fistulosum

Prairie penstemon
Penstemon cobaea

Mississippi penstemon
Penstemon digitalis

Yellow coneflower
Echinacea paradoxa

Eastern purple coneflower
Echinacea purpurea

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