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

Thursday - April 18, 2013

From: Oakland, TN
Region: Southeast
Topic: Non-Natives, Pollinators, Shrubs
Title: Bees on non-native holly from Oakland TN
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have bees all over my Nellie Stevens holly. Can I spray anything to alleviate this issue?

ANSWER:

Oh, please don't kill the bees. We have lost so many, many pollinators to various environmental factors, insecticides and, in the case of bees, Colony Collapse Disorder. Nellie Stevens holly is a hybrid of two hollies, neither of which is native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation and propagation of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which those plants grow naturally; in your case, Fayette County, TN.

Nellie Stevens Holly is a hybrid, a mix of Ilex acquifolium and Ilex cornuta and therefore is considered a non-native. Kew Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens indicates that  Ilex acquifolium, is native to Great Britain; in England it blooms in May. From the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Ilex cornuta, native to China and Korea, is also listed as blooming in May.

There are 4 members of the Ilex genus native to Tennessee, of those Ilex decidua (Possumhaw) which blooms from March to May, Ilex opaca (American holly) blooming from March to June, and Ilex verticillata (Common winterberry) blooming from April to July, all are native in the area of Fayette County. The point being, Ilex pollinators, which are mainly honey bees, are in your area now, busily gathering pollen and unintentionally contributing to the propagation of the native hollies. The hollies native to Tennessee all begin blooming earlier, and your Nellie Stevens probably is doing the same thing. We are not even sure pollinating the Nellie Stevens holly makes any contribution to propagation of the holly, because most hybrids are sterile. But it is an enormous contribution to the preservation of the bees.When your holly finishes blooming, the bees will leave. Honey bees are rarely aggressive, and if you spray a pesticide you will not only kill them but various other insects like butterflies.

Please read this article The Importance of Bees in Nature with special attention to this line:

"The bees have to find their food in flowers. The food can be nectar or pollen. Nectar is produced to attract the bees. Pollen is also attracting the bees, but it has another function too: it is produced to ensure the next generation of plants."

 

From the Image Gallery


Possumhaw
Ilex decidua

American holly
Ilex opaca

Common winterberry
Ilex verticillata

More Pollinators Questions

Petunias pollinated by clematis from Logansport IN
July 11, 2012 - Can petunias be pollinated by clematis? I have 2 petunias that have split blooms and look like a small clematis flower. They are growing close to a jackamani clematis.
view the full question and answer

Failure of tall garden phlox buds to open in St. Louis MO
July 30, 2009 - Why won't the buds of my tall garden phlox open? Plants are apparently healthy, no powdery mildew or visible insects, foliage looks great and buds are profuse but they don't open. I have two clumps ...
view the full question and answer

Shrubby options for a bird lover in New Jersey
September 07, 2011 - Could you please recommend a native shrub to NJ that grows to about 3-4 feet, is very low maintenance, does well in afternoon sun and is also something the birds will like? Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Failure of hybridized red hollies to grow
April 17, 2008 - I have 2 red hollies planted in my yard about 20' apart, 3 years now. They won't grow. Do I need to have a male with them?
view the full question and answer

Pollinating Pawpaws
February 06, 2013 - We have many good sized pawpaw trees in our area but they never bear any fruit. I've checked them at different times in the fall over the years but no fruit. Someone told me that the flowers were po...
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