Honeybees and their many relatives make life sweet for us. Without bees many of our favorite foods and flowers would not be available. From apples to ornamentals to zuchinni, we rely on bees for pollination. According to the USDA, one-third of our diet is made possible by insect pollinators, and approximately 80 percent of that pollination is due to bees. By planting long blooming, drought-resistant Salvias and other flowering plants favored by honeybees and other species of the family Apidae, home gardeners can provide the nectar and pollen that these tiny pollinators need to survive.
Drought is causing shortages of many flowering plants on which bees survive. Food loss, both through drought and climate change, is one of many factors that bee researchers say is likely contributing to Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious malady that weakens honeybees and causes their destruction. The Natural Resources Defense Council notes that bee researchers began documenting this problem in America around 2006.
The HÃ¤agen-Daz Honey Bee Haven of the University of California, Davis, in July 2014 reported that "few plants show their value as bee plants for hot, dry gardens better than the salvias." UC Davis even includes red-flowering species among its bee favorites, although some bee researchers say that bees mostly can't see reds.
Many factors affect the predilections of honeybees, including markings on flowers -- sometimes called "beelines" -- that guide bees to the pollen and nectar they need. Unlike humans who can't see colors in the ultra-violet range, bees see UV colors including markings invisible to people but acting like lit-up runways for insects. Perhaps this characteristic enables them to access red flowers.
This list offers honeybee favorites in many colors grown at Flowers by the Sea.
(Blue Boa Hummingbird Mint) Luxurious deep violet-blue flower spikes held over ultra-green foliage. Unlike any other Agastache varieties, the flower spikes are long, wide and extremely showy.
(Sonoran Sunset® Anise Hyssop) An abundance of lavender-rose flowers mark Agastache cana 'Sinning' as being unique from the typical purple-flowered plants of its species. Colorado plantsman Duane Sinning discovered this lovely hybrid.
(Ava Hybrid Anise Hyssop) Raspberry calyxes support Ava's rosy-pink flowers, which whorl on tall spikes similar to many Salvias. When the blossoms are spent, the calyxes remain colorful. This long-blooming hummingbird magnet is tolerant of cold, heat and drought.
(Kudos Ambrosia Hybrid Anise Hyssop) Dense plumes of flowers are accented by deep green foliage in this heat- and drought-tolerant favorite of pollinators. Kudos Ambrosia is a compact, clumping, semi-dwarf variety. The originator of this plant describes the color as creamy coconut, pale orange and light rose pink.
(Kudos Coral Hybrid Anise Hyssop) Dense plumes of deep coral flowers are accented by mid-green foliage in this heat- and drought-tolerant favorite of pollinators. Kudos Coral is a compact, clumping, semi-dwarf variety.
(Kudos Mandarin Hybrid Anise Hyssop) Dense plumes of creamy orange flowers are accented by deep green foliage in this heat- and drought-tolerant favorite of pollinators. Kudos Mandarin is a compact, clumping, semi-dwarf variety.
(Kudos Yellow Hybrid Anise Hyssop) Flowers by the Sea is one of the first nurseries nationwide to grow Agastache x 'Kudos Yellow'. This is one of the best deep yellow Agastaches we've found, due to its large, dense flower spikes and bushy, upright form.
(Velvet Centaurea) Lacy, velvety foliage gives this tough shrub its common name. The globular, thistle-like flowers are lavender to fuchsia pink and contrast elegantly with the silvery green of the leaves.
(Tower of Jewels) Houston, we are ready for blastoff! Excuse us, but the floriferous Tower of Jewels is so huge that it looks like a model rocket rising up from a columnar launch pad of narrow-leafed, silvery foliage.
(Scallop Shell Horehound) The mint family (Lamiaceae) is well known for fragrant, medicinal plants, including Marrubium supinum, which means "bitter" and "prostrate."
(Blue Chiquita Sage) This unusual and now rare variety was first discovered by the Yucca Do Nursery during their 1997 expedition in Mexico. Growing into a small, tight mound with silvery-blue leaves, it explodes in the fall with pale blue flowers on tall spikes.
(Dancing Dolls Sage) Sages can be such tough plants. Many, such as Salvia 'Dancing Dolls', withstand heat and drought yet have delicate looking blossoms. Dancing Dolls features cream and rose bicolor flowers.
(Fancy Dancer Sage) Sages can be such tough plants withstanding heat and drought. Yet so many, including Salvia 'Fancy Dancer' have delicate looking blossoms. This one has bicolor flowers combining light and hot pink tones.
(Silke's Dream Salvia) Large red-orange blossoms combine with heart-shaped, light green, heavily veined leaves in this large, long-blooming sage. It's a subshrub, which means it combines it is a perennial that combines soft, herbaceous growth with some woodiness.
(Sacred White Sage) Bees, hummingbirds and spiritual blessings are all connected to this elegant shrubby sage, which is an important herb to indigenous Californians and deserves a place in every salvia garden. Stiff and almost fleshy, its leaves are tight rosettes of brilliant, silvery white.
(Vicki Romo White Sage) A hybrid two top Californian natives, Vicki Romo has foliage very much like that of White Sage (Salvia apiana) and darker lavender flowers than those of Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii).
(Arizona Blue Sage) We are so impressed with this top-performing, drought-resistant ground cover that we have rated it best of class. Arizona Blue Sage is adaptable to a variety of shady conditions and blossoms so abundantly that it seems to have as many rich blue flowers as it has leaves. It is native to dry, shaded areas in mountain canyons in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
(Arizona Deep Blue Sage) In contrast to the lavender-blue flowers of Arizona Blue Sage (Salvia arizonica), the blossoms of Arizona Deep Blue are nearly purple. They are the kind of deep lavender that you might see in a southwestern sunset.
(Iranian Oil Sage) Butterflies and honeybees are drawn to the long blooming, dusky violet-blue flowers of Salvia atropatana. However, deer say no to its charms, due to its essential oils being less than tasty.