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.
(Elk Smokey Grape Jame Sage) We think the dusky lavender flowers of Salvia x ‘Elk Smokey Grape’ look like the dusty, pale reddish-blue of Malbec grapes. This is a floriferous beauty.
(Elk Twilight's Rosy Glow Jame Sage) Rosy red hairs accentuate the upper lip of each dusky, salmon-pink blossom of this cheery Jame Sage. The flowers are tiny but abundant and are supported by bright green calyxes.
(Elk Xanadu Jame Sage) Like the magical, fictional land of Xanadu, there’s something heavenly about this sage. The flowers of Salvia x ‘Elk Xanadu’ look ethereal due to the bluish cast of their magenta-pink blossoms supported by deep magenta and green calyxes. It's a powerful attraction for pollinators, including hummingbirds.
(Love and Wishes Sage) Deep purple calyxes support the magenta-purple, tubular blossoms of Salvia x 'Love and Wishes'. They contrast handsomely with dark stems and mid-green foliage.
(Magic Wand Sage) Salvia x ‘Magic Wand’ is perky with vertical spikes of long blooming, rich purple flowers and dense, mid-green foliage. Overall, it reminds us of Salvia x ‘Big Blue’, but has smaller flowers and usually doesn’t grow as tall.
(Mysty Sage) Salvia x ‘Mysty’ is a dwarf version of Mystic Spires Sage and is a dramatic border plant with dark green, corrugated leaves and long blooming flower spikes abundant with deep, violet-blue blossoms.
(Scarlet Spires Sage) This is a brilliant cross between the sturdy D'Arcy's Sage (Salvia darcyi) and the beautifully colored 'Raspberry Delight' Littleleaf Sage (Salvia microphylla 'Raspberry Delight').
(Jean's Purple Sage) If you are looking for a deep purple perennial for accenting an entryway or back of border in flower beds, Jean's Purple Passion may be the right choice.
We highly recommend the much improved Salvia guaranitica 'Purple Haze' as an alternative to this older variety.
(Dyson's Orangy Pink Hybrid Jame Sage) Many Salvia x jamensis hybrids remind gardeners of sunrise, such as Dyson's Orangy Pink. Light green calyxes faintly striped with red cup its luminous pale salmon pink blossoms with creamy throats.
(Shell Dancer Sage) So many sages combine resilience and loveliness. This includes Salvia 'Shell Dancer', which withstands heat and drought yet has delicate looking blossoms and lush green foliage.
(Tangerine Ballet Hybrid Jame Sage) Soft pinkish-orange flowers with contrasting yellow eyes make this Jame Sage look as tasty as sorbet. Hardy to at least 10 degrees F, Tangerine Ballet is also heat tolerant, drought resistant and long blooming-- all marks of Salvias in the closely related Autumn and Mountain Sage group.
(Yellow Pink Hybrid Jame Sage) Dusty pink with pale yellow throats, the bicolor pastels of this Salvia x jamensis are especially charming up close. 'Yellow Pink' is a compact sage with tiny, smooth foliage.
(Rocketman Russian Sage) A cloud of cool, lavender-blue flowers shoot upward from the fine-leafed, gray-green foliage of Salvia yangii ‘Rocketman’. This is a shorter, more upright form of Russian Sage, which was known botanically as Perovskia atriplicifolia until 2019 when the species was reclassified as a Salvia.