Lupins are flowers that grow on highways and the good thing about them is that they never grow alone. They usually grow in twos.
These flowers are quite attractive and yes, bees are attracted to them, just like every other pollinator flower. This is because they have a large white dot on their flowers that points the bees directly to the source of the nectar.
So, when bees want to feed off these flowers, they don’t need to stress themselves out to do so.
However, are these beauties good for bees? Yes, Lupins are good for bees
What are lupins?
As part of the grain legumes family, Lupins are those sorts of flowers that stand out in your garden with a variety of colors such as red, pink, white, purple, and cream.
Don’t be surprised. The Lupin is unique in its way to the point that one flower can have multiple colors.
Lupins are protein-rich flowers with about 40% protein content. Growing the Lupins is quite stress-free and it is easier to maintain as well.
There are about 200 species of the Lupine flower.
Although the Lupins are toxic plants and their toxicity starts from the time, they start growing to the time the seed pods burst.
The level of toxicity that the Lupin flower possesses wanes as the plant gets older.
What makes the Lupin plant this toxic is its high level of alkaloids found in the seeds. And these toxic Lupins are harmful to the livestock and insects who graze on them.
What are the benefits bees get from Lupins?
One thing with bees and flowers that they usually flock around is the fact that they benefit from these flowers.
And surely, the Lupin flowers are not left out. Here are some of the things that bees benefit from the Lupin flower below:
- Save energy:
when feeding off Lupin flowers, bees get to save energy because the flower has a white dot that shows the bees where the nectar is.
When the flower starts to fade, the white dot turns magenta.
This lets the insects know that the nectar and pollen are depleted.
Also, from the nectar, bees get the energy needed for flight, maintenance of the colony and days to day activities is found here.
Bees will die within a matter of days if they do not have a steady source of carbohydrates that will energize them.
- Easy access
The pollen of lupins can easily be accessed by the bees. Even the tiniest bee can easily access nectar and pollen from pansies.
The plant goes as far as letting the bees know when their nectar has depleted.
- A source of Protein
Mineral’s fat/Lipins, vitamins are contained in pollen, as well as protein which is the bee’s primary source of protein.
Protein provided by pollen is key to foster production and development of larvae and young bees.
Related: Here is an article I wrote on are pansies good for bees?
Do bees get pollen from lupins?
Yes, bees get pollen from lupins.
They usually collect a good quantity of pollen from the lupin flowers and then make use of the nectar gathered, allowing colonies to build up to swarming points and store surplus honey.
However, the activity of bees on lupins makes them important agents of cross-pollination.
Is Lupine poisonous to bees?
Nectar can be quite tasty to insects, especially bees. However, while this nectar is sweet, it can contain certain toxins that will not fail to affect the bees negatively.
Most flowering plants like Lupine produces toxins in their stems and leaves to protect themselves against herbivorous insects such as aphids.
These toxins sometimes get into their nectar.
While it is not certain if the toxins in Lupines are poisonous to bees, to the point of killing them, we are sure of how it affects them.
The pollen and nectar of lupins that have the toxins affect the bees by affecting their memory, behavior and reproductive.
Also check out this article I wrote on are daffodils good for bees?
Do honeybees like Lupine?
Yes, honey bees like lupine flowers. If it’s not the bright colors of the flower attracting them, then it is their tasty nectar.
Honey bees will readily feed on lupine, and placing commercial honey bees on the fields to feed on lupine will produce highly marketable honey.
However, in some species, honey bees may not be able to trip or open large early flowers but can do so with smaller flowers later in the season. For large, early flowers, larger bees may be required.
Do lupines come back every year?
Well, one important thing to note when planting Lupines is that they can be grown in both annuals and perennials.
Lupine seeds can be planted every year in the very early spring, but they tend to do better if they are planted in late spring.
The Lupine seed has a tough seed coat, so it’s a good idea to either soak seeds for about 24-48 hours, or roughen them between two sheets of sandpaper before planting.
Should I stop bees attacking my lupins?
Truly, the natural toxins in the nectar and pollen of lupins can affect bees by affecting their memory, behavior and reproductive success.
However, is this enough to stop them from attacking the flowers or feeding on them?
According to research, we know that plants produce these chemicals in their leaves and stems as a defense mechanism against herbivorous insects such as aphids.
So, the intention isn’t to kill bees. Besides, bees get some benefits from the lupins. So, my answer to this question will be a solid “No”
What eats lupin flowers?
You’d be surprised to find that not only bees feed on the Lupin flower. I mean with how good we have heard that the nectar tastes, who wouldn’t want to partake in it?
As bees are attracted to lupine flowers, so also are butterflies and hummingbirds. These also feed on lupin flowers.
Slug and snails aren’t left out when it comes to feeding on lupin flowers.
Lupins are not entirely bad for bees, that is if researchers will be able to find how to minimize the negative effect on bees.