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Northern nectar sources for honey bees

    The nectar source in a given area depends on the type of vegetation present and the length of their bloom period. What type of vegetation will grow in an area depends on soil texture, soil pH, soil drainage, daily maximum and minimum temperatures, precipitation, extreme minimum winter temperature, and growing degree days. The plants listed below are plants that would grow in USDA Hardiness zone 5. A good predictor for when a plant will bloom and produce nectar is a calculation of the growing degree days. Even more accurate would be a calculation of the growing degree hours. Hopkins' Bioclimatic Law states that in North America east of the Rockies, a 130 m (400-foot) increase in elevation, a 4° change in latitude north, or a 10° change in longitude east will cause any given biological event to occur four days later in the spring or four days earlier in the fall.In botany, the term phenology refers to the timing of flower emergence, sequence of bloom, fruiting, and leaf drop in autumn.
    The classification in major or minor nectar source is very dependent on the agricultural use of the land. Agricultural crops like canola and alfalfa may be a major or minor source depending on local plantings. Honeydew sources are not included in this listing.


    Trees and shrubs

    Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsMonofloral honeySource for honeybees
    MapleAcerFeb - Aprnomajor but temperature usually too cold
    Red MapleAcer rubrumFeb - Aprnomajor but temperature usually too cold for bees to fly
    ShadbushAmelanchier arboreaApr - Maynominor
    Red ChokeberryAronia arbutifolia, Photinia pyrifoliaMay - Junnominor
    Black ChokeberryAronia melanocarpaMay - Junnominor
    Ohio Buckeye Aesculus glabraApr - Maynominor
    Common HackberryCeltis occidentalisApr - Maynominor
    HawthornCrataegusApr - Maynominor
    Honey Locust Gleditsia triancanthosMay - Junnominor
    American HollyIlex opacaApr - Junnominor, important in southeastern US
    Tulip-treeLirodendron tulipiferaMay - Junyesmajor in southern Appalachians and piedmont
    AppleMalus domesticaApr - Maynominor
    Crab AppleMalusMar - Junnominor
    CherryPrunus cerasusApr - Maynominor
    PearPyrus communisApr - Maynominor
    Black CherryPrunus serotinaApr - Maynominor
    PlumPrunusApr - Maynominor
    Common BuckthornRhamnus catharticaMay - Junnominor
    Black Locust Robinia pseudoacaciaMay - Junyesmajor
    RaspberryRubusMay - Junyesmajor in some areas
    BlackberryRubusMay - Junyesmajor in some areas
    WillowSalixFeb - Aprnomajor but temperature usually too cold for bees to fly
    Pussy WillowSalix discolorMar - Aprnomajor but temperature usually too cold for bees to fly
    American ElmUlmus americanaFeb - Aprnominor
    BlueberryVaccinium corymbosumMay - Junnominor

    Flowers and annual crop plants

    Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsMonofloral honeySource for honeybees
    ChivesAllium schoenoprasumMay - Sepnominor
    AsparagusAsparagus officinalisMay - Junnominor
    Milk VetchAstragalus spp.May - Junnominor
    MustardBrassica arvenisi (L.)Apr - Mayno?minor?
    Oilseed Rape (Canola)Brassica napus L., Brassica rapaMay - Junyesmajor
    Mountain BluetCentaurea montana (Knapweed)Mayno??major
    LeopardsbaneDoronicum cordatumApr - Maynominor
    White Sweet CloverMelilotus albaMay - Augyesmajor
    Yellow Sweet CloverMelilotus officinalisMay - Augyesmajor
    LungwortPulmonaria spp.Maynominor
    WoundwortStachys byzantinaMaynominor
    ChickweedStellaria MediaApr - Julnominor
    DandelionTaraxicum officinaleApr - Mayno?major
    SpeedwellVeronica spicataJunenominor
    BlackhawViburnum prunifoliumMay - Junnominor


    Trees and shrubs

    Major Nectar Source
    Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsMonofloral honeySource for honeybees
    CatalpaCatalpa speciosaJun - Julnominor
    SumacRhus glabraJun - Jul??major
    BasswoodTilia americanaJune - Julyyesmajor

    See also Honeydew source

    Summer Flowers and annual crop plants

    Major Nectar Source
    Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsMonofloral honeySource for honeybees
    MilkweedAsclepias spp.Jul - Augmajor
    AsterAster spp.Sep-Frost??major
    Globe ThistleEchniops ritroAugustmajor
    SoybeanGlycine sojaJul - Octmajor
    AlfalfaMedicago sativaJuly - Augas clover honeymajor
    CloverMelilotus spp. and Trifolium spp.May - Augas clover honeymajor
    White Sweet CloverMelilotus albaas clover honeymajor
    Yellow Sweet CloverMelilotus officinalisas clover honeymajor
    SmartweedPolygonum spp.Aug - Sepmajor
    Red-Flowering ThymeThymus praecoxJun - Julmajor
    Alsike CloverTrifolium hybridumas clover honeymajor
    Crimson cloverTrifolium incarnatumas clover honeymajor
    Red CloverTrifolium pratenseJun - Julas clover honeymajor
    White CloverTrifolium repensJun - Julas clover honeymajor

    Minor Nectar Source
    Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsMonofloral honeySource for honeybees
    Anise hyssopAgstache foeniculumJul-Frostnominor
    ChivesAllium schoenoprasumMay - Sepnominor
    Garlic chivesAllium tuberosaAug - Sepnominor
    LeadwortAmorpha fruticosaJun - Julnominor
    Devils-walkingstickAralia spinosaJul - Augnominor
    Butterfly WeedAsclepias tuberosaJul - Augnominor
    AsterAster spp.Aug - Sepnominor
    BorageBorago officinalisJun - Frostnominor
    MarigoldCalendula officinalisJun - Sepnominor
    ThistleCentaurea spp.Jul - Sepnominor
    Clethra SummersweetClethra alnifoliaJul - Augnominor
    CucumberCucumis spp.nominor
    MelonCucumis meloJun-Frostnominor
    PumpkinCucurbita peptoJun-Frostnominor
    Wild CarrotDaucus carotaAug - Sepnominor
    Blue thistle, Blue weedEchium vulgareJun - Augnominor
    Joe-Pye weedEupatorium spp.Aug - Sepnominor
    BuckwheatFagopyrum esculentumJul - Augnominor
    Blue vineGonolobus laevisnominor
    SunflowerHelianthus annuusJun - Sepnominor
    LavenderLavendula augustifoliaJun - Sepnominor
    Birdsfoot trefoilLotus corniculatusJun - Augnominor
    CatnipNepeta mussiniiJun - Sepnominor
    OreganoOriganum vulgareJun - Sepnominor
    Russian SagePerovskia atriplicifoliaJul - Sepnominor
    Self-healPrunella vulgarisJul - Augnominor
    Mountain MintPycnanthemum flexuosumAug-Frostnominor
    AzaleaRhododendron spp.Jun - Augnominor
    ScrophulariaScrophularia spp.Julynominor
    Chick weedStellaria mediaApr - Julnominor
    Korean euodiaTetradium danielliiAug - Sepnominor
    Germander, ThymeTeucrium canadenseJul - Augnominor
    ThymeThymus pulegioidesJun - Julnominor
    Blue VervainVerbena hastata L.Jul - Augnominor
    Tall IronweedVernonia altissimaAug - Sepnominor
    Tufted VetchVicia craccaJul - Augnominor
    Common VetchVicia sativaJul - Augnominor


    Trees and shrubs

    Flowers and annual crop plants

    Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsMonofloral honeySource for honeybees
    Anise hyssopAgstache foeniculumJul-Frostminor
    AsterAster spp.Sep-Frostmajor
    BorageBorago officinalisJun - Frostminor
    MelonsCucumis meloJun-Frostminor
    PumpkinCucurbita peptoJun-Frostminor
    SoybeanGlycine sojaJul - Octminor
    Mountain MintPycnanthemum flexuosumAug-Frostminor
    GoldenrodSolidago spp.Sep - Octmajor
    Tall IronweedVernonia altissimaAug - Sepminor

    See also

    Some Ohio Nectar and Pollen Producing Plants Ohio State University Extension Fact Sheet, 2000, Dr. James Tew