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.
(Bee's Bliss Sage) If you are looking for a California native sage to use as a groundcover, Bee's Bliss is a fine choice. Low-growing, widespreading and colorful, it is ideal for choking weeds.
(Celestial Blue Sage) Fast growing and adaptable, this sage is a chance hybrid between Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii) -- also called California Blue Sage -- and California Rose Sage (Salvia pachyphylla). It may also be related to California Purple Sage (Salvia leucophylla).
(Christine Yeo Sage) A chance hybrid of two Mexican sages --Salvia microphylla and S. chamaedryoides -- Christine Yeo Sage is long blooming and features deep purple flowers with white eyes.
(Elk Bella Rosa Jame Sage) The large, creamy pink and burgundy flowers of this sage are stately in contrast with its deep green, veined, ovate foliage that is pleasantly fragrant. Elk Bella Rosa is as elegant as its name implies. It's also long blooming.
(Elk Blue Moon II Jame Sage) The phrase "blue moon" signifies a rare event. Elk Blue Moon Jame Sage is an unusual combination for a Salvia x jamensis hybrid -- dusky violet flowers with pale-blue throats, dark blue calyxes and mid-green foliage.
Note: This is a new (2014) cultivar that we chose to replace the original 'Elk Blue Moon'. It is a superior grower, and otherwise very similar.
(Elk Blue Note Sage) In Europe and Australia there is a popular and widely used seed grown Salvia variety called 'Blue Note'. Our offering, 'Elk Blue Note', is the result of several generations of careful breeding and selection.
(Elk Chantily Lace Jame Sage) What color are the flowers of this FBTS introduction? Lavender? Periwinkle? Taffy? Yes to all for this hard to describe but easy to love plant.
(Elk Cotton Candy Jame Sage) Rosy hairs on the upper lip and pale white throats highlight the translucent, blush pink blossoms of Elk Cotton Candy Jame Sage. Dark, deeply contrasting calyxes support the medium-size flowers.
(Elk Crimson King Jame Sage) Sometimes words fail us when trying to describe a unique new color. Definitely red, but with a clear blue overlay and a blue eye. Featuring masses of flowers that delight pollinators, this FBTS introduction is new for 2017.
(Elk Lemon Light Jame Sage) We are proud to offer this luminescent, pure yellow Salvia x jamensis -- a color breakthrough from our own breeding program. The bright, light blossoms cool the landscape similar to white flowers, but with colorful impact. The glossy green leaves are quite small - a very attractive and distinctive characteristic.
(Elk Lush Lavender Jame Sage) Pale white accents mark the throats of this sage's large, rich lavender flowers. In contrast, the calyxes cupping the blossoms are a dark blue-green. Overall, the look is serene.
(Elk Plum Parfait Jame Sage) It's a toss-up as to which are more dramatic -- the deep purple calyxes so dark they almost look black or the plum-colored flowers with pronounced white beelines. Elk Plum Parfait is a rare treat.
(Elk Raspberry Moose Sage) The deep raspberry flowers of this Salvia x Jamensis look good enough to eat, like spoonfuls of a silky, mouthwatering mousse dessert. Yet the 'moose' in its name isn't a misspelling. It refers to flowers that are larger than normal for a Jame Sage.
(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.
(Gayle Nielson Hybrid Sage) Whorl-like clusters of violet-blue flowers on slender stems as well as its height and width indicate that Gayle Nielson Hybrid Sage is related to some form of Salvia clevelandii.
(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.
(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').