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.
(Cut Leaf African Blue Sage) In botanical names, aurita means “ear shaped.” It’s the ear-like lobes of this sage’s leaves that give the species part of its name Salvia aurita ssp. galpinii. The cut leaf foliage is heavily lobed, mint green and lightly hairy.
(Austrian Sage) Tall spikes of large, pale yellow flowers rise up from Salvia austriaca’s basal rosette of impressively large leaves. Deeply lobed, like the edges of a lacy collar, the leaves are broader and longer than those of any Salvia we have ever grown.
(Lancelot Wooly Canary Island Sage) Salvia canariensis ‘Lancelot’ has lavender flowers shaped like parrot beaks that are surrounded by deep rosy-lavender bracts.
(Coral Nymph Tropical Sage) What a cutie! This award-winning cultivar of Tropical Sage is short and compact yet has a multitude of pastel salmon flowers larger than those of its bigger cousins. It is perfect for annual flower beds or patio containers.
(Forest Fire Tropical Sage) Butterflies love the abundant, fire engine red flowers of this mostly annual sage. It's a popular cultivar of one of the first Salvias used for ornamental purposes -- Tropical Sage. The flowers are dramatically framed by reddish black bracts.
(Lady in Red Tropical Sage) Lady in Red is a variety of Salvia coccinea Juss. ex Murray, which is often called Texas Sage. It is the best red-flowering Tropical Sage that we grow.
(Snow Nymph White Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this award winner, which is an outstanding choice for pure white color from June to autumn. This type of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.
(Summer Jewel Pink Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner, which is an outstanding choice for bright pink & white color from June to autumn. This type of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.
(Summer Jewel Red Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this Fleuroselect Gold Medal winner, which is an outstanding choice for bright red color from June to autumn. This type of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.
(Summer Jewel White Tropical Sage) Butterflies, hummingbirds and honeybees enjoy this All American 2016 winner, which is an outstanding choice for pure white color from June to autumn. The Summer Jewel varieties of Tropical Sage is generally the first to flower for us.
(COOL Pink Lace Anise Scented Sage) Cheerful Kelly-green bracts surround magenta buds that bloom into the soft pink yet magenta-tinged flowers of Salvia COOL Pink Lace. Its bright green leaves have a licorice-like fragrance.
(Honey Melon Pineapple Sage) This is a short Pineapple Sage that is long blooming. It is the earliest and longest flowering of all the many varieties of Salvia elegans. We recommend it for indoor herb gardening as well as for outdoor borders and groundcovers.
(Tangerine Pineapple Sage) This citrus-scented cultivar is our smallest variety of Pineapple Sage. Worth growing just for the exotic scent of its leaves, this culinary sage is also one of the longest blooming plants in its species.
(Elk Pomegranate Autumn Sage) We're proud to say that this is an FBTS cultivar. It is one of the finest dark flowered, compact Autumn Sage varieties we have seen. Its extraordinarily large, raspberry blossoms bloom from spring into fall.
(Furman's Red Autumn Sage) Selected by noted Texas plantsman W.A. Furman in the 1970s, this hardy Texas native is beautiful and tough withstanding heat, drought and freezing winters. Its flowers, which bloom spring through fall, are a rich, saturated red bordering on magenta.
(Grace Pink Autumn Sage) Dark hot pink flowers and contrasting, dark bracts make this Autumn Sage stand out. Originally fom the JC Raulston Arboretum in North Carolina. This variety is large but compact, rugged, heat tolerant and capable of handling Zone 6 chill.
(Lipstick Autumn Sage) Similar to a little bit of lipstick on a pretty face, the rosy flowers of this hardy, heat-tolerant sage add a finishing touch to a perennial Salvia border. The creamy pinkish-red blossoms have a contrasting white throat and are cupped by rosy brown calexes on long spikes.