Thinking of starting an Apiary or you currently have one? Good! You probably know that you need your beehives located in a flower field or in close proximity to one.
Bees need to pollinate flowers and in turn suck out nectar from those flowers in other to produce honey.
Dahlias are very good for bees because they are a good source of pollen for bees and they also attract a lot of them. This is why most people will advise that you locate your beehives very close to dahlia flowers
Hence, the type of flower determines the quality and flavor of the honey produced.
It is therefore important you locate your hive close to flowers that are beneficial and safe to your bees.
Which begs the Question is Dahlia one of those Flowers safe for your Bees?
What are Dahlias and their species?
Dahlias are “a genus of tuberous plants that are members of the Asteraceae family”.
Well it seems probably boring and complex to you doesn’t it? Well it’s not that hard. Simply put Dahlias are a group of diverse but related tuber-like plants.
One common feature of all Dahlias is that they have colourful and beautiful flowers. There are currently forty two (42) known Dahlia species. The common ones include
- Dahlia Coccinea also known as Red Dahlia
- Dahlia mignon with red, purple and white variants amongst others.
- Dahlia imperialis
- Dahlia merckii
- Dahlia pinnata
- Dahlia sorensenii
- Dahlia rudis
- Dahlia tenuicaulis
Dahlias are quite rampant in Mexico and Central America. In fact Dahlias are known as the official flower of Mexico.
Related: Here is an article I wrote on can bees drink sugar water?
What do apiarists say?
Apart from considering the safety of your bees and their likeness for certain flowers before you select the flowers close to your beehive considering the lifespan of these flowers matters (i.e. you should consider whether they bloom all through the year or periodically).
Some apiarists say open-centered Dahlias are bee favorites.
These groups of Dahlias attract bees a lot; seemingly the bees prefer them to other flowers.
And the catch is these Dahlias bloom in the late summer and through the entire fall season (Beekeepers would agree this is the season bees are most definitely in need of nourishment).
Honeybees that feed from these flowers are also said to produce quality and well flavored honey.
Typical examples of these types of Dahlias include
- Dad’s Favourite (attracts butterflies a lot)
- Golden Sceptor
- Daisy Dukes.
Another group of apiarist claim Bees frequently visit Red and deep Crimson Dahlias which include
- Dahlia Annika
- Dahlia, Bishop of Auckland
- Dahlia Dark desire
- Dahlia Pulp Fiction
- Dahlia ‘Mystic wonder’
- Dahlia ‘Nuit d’Ete’
Some others claim Bees are lovers of Pink Dahlia flowers like
- Dahlia ‘Star wars’
- Dahlia ‘Bishop of Leicvester’
- Dahlia ‘Hillcrest Regal’
- Dahlia ‘Fascination’
- Dahlia ‘Tartarius’
Beekeepers claim Honeybees and Bumblebees enjoy pollinating orange and yellow dahlias like
- Dahlia ‘Bishop of York’
- Dahlia ‘Moon fire’
- Dahlia ‘Harvest Inflammation’
- Dahlia ‘Pooh – Swan Island’
- Dahlia ‘Yellow Hammer’
White coloured Dahlias are also a common pollinating ground for bees. These types of white Dahlia flowers include
- Dahlia ‘Omo’
- Dahlia ’Cherubino’
- Dahlia ‘Classic Swanlake’
- Dahlia ‘Trelyn Daisy’
- Dahlia ‘Twyning’s After Eight
Bees also frequently enjoy visiting Peachy shades (Blushed pink, yellow and orange) Dahlias like
- Dahlia ‘John Hill’
- Dahlia ‘April Heather’
- Dahlia ‘Dream Seeker’
- Dahlia ‘Happy Single Date’
- Dahlia ‘Peachette’
- Dahlia ‘Carol Klein’
- Dahlia ‘ Waltzing mathilda’
Also check out this article I wrote on can bees break through walls?
Are they good for pollinators like bees?
The general consensus of apiarists agrees that Dahlias are a good pollinators for bees and other pollinators like butterflies and other insects.
Are they actually good and safe for your bees? Is there scientific proof to back this? Do Florists agree with this?
A research conducted by the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects at the University of Sussex showed that Open centered Dahlia species are very attractive and beneficial to bees.
Out of the pollinators visiting the flowers, Bees were the most frequent visitors with 87 percent of pollinators of the Open centered Dahlias being bees.
In 2017 different scientists across the UK conducted trials on the red, white and purple mignon Dahlia species and found that they were very attractive and beneficial to bees especially bumblebees and common carder bees.
Florists’ claim Dahlias are highly beneficial to bees and other pollinators because they are highly attractive, they have lots of nectar and they are rugged and can survive across a wide range of conditions.
Why Dahlias? What else should you know?
Dahlias are very attractive plants to humans and pollinators alike you might want to consider planting a garden of them close to your beehives because
- They are easy to plant
- They are very safe and beneficial for pollinators
- They have varieties that bloom all year round
- Their nectar produces delicious and sweet flavours of honey
- They are easily assessible.
- They have different health benefits like
- It Lowers Blood pressure (Inulin present in Dahlia flowers can lower high blood pressure.
- It Lowers blood Cholesterol levels
- It maintains bone and teeth health (Dahlia bulb milk gives stronger teeth and bones)
In addition, Dahlias are good ornamental plants. Their flower bulbs are brightly colored and a breath of fresh air in any garden you plant them.
They are also available in different sizes, colors and shapes so you have a plethora of options to choose from.
Are there other alternatives to Dahlia Plants you might consider?
You want something different from dahlia plants for your bees? Or you’ve searched for Dahlia plants in your locality but you can’t seem to find any?
You might want to consider the following alternatives
- Agastache commonly known as Hyssop is one very common alternative you might consider. Bees love this flower and they bloom from midsummer until autumn. These flowers are most preferred by Bumblebees.
- Lavenders are also a very common pollinating site for honeybees. All species of Lavenders attract bees a lot.
- Cirsium rivulare commonly known as river thistle is also a bee favourite. Bees pollinating its flowers are a very common sight. It can grow across different conditions but it prefers damp regions.
- Sunflowers which are quite ubiquitous are also very attractive for bees. You could consider planting some to give that sunny feel to your garden and also nourish your bees.
- Archillea is also another bee favourite flowery species. This beauty exists in a wide range of colours from bright yellows to soft pink etc. They can survive in sunny areas and they flower for several months
- Nepeta commonly known as Cat mint is also another adorable flowery plant which bees are known to enjoy pollinating. They have aromatic leaves and their flowers bloom for a very long period. In addition to being loved by bees and other pollinators, they are also loved by cats. Also, just like Dahlias they are very easy to plant.
In a Nutshell, Dahlias are very beautiful flowers which can attract your bees providing them with nectar and also would help beautify your landscape.
Open centered Dahlias should definitely be considered by any apiarist looking to set up a beehive.
They are relatively affordable, readily assessable and are also provide health benefits for you the apiarist.