Snowdrops for Bees!

Snowdrops for Bees!


Honey bee on a snowdrop. Photo by Ian A Kirk

Honey bee on a snowdrop. Photo by Ian A Kirk via Creative Commons License.

With this cold winter full of arctic winds, polar vortexes and several feet of snow, it seems as if spring will never show it’s glowing face.  It is usually around this time of year, late February and early March, that I find my honey bees foraging on Snowdrop flowers, the arching white beauties poking gracefully through the melting snow.  With temps this week in the single digits and the ground still heavily covered in snow, I have yet to see these late winter gems.  But in case you are luckier than I and happen to see a few snowdrops poking their heads through the ice,  also keep a look out for the bees tucked neatly inside their blossoms, collecting some of the first pollen and nectar available to them this year.

Snowdrops are bulbous perennial flowers that are easy to grow year after year once they are established.  Since they are blooming at a time in many areas when not much else is available, this gives bees and native pollinators a fresh source of nectar and pollen in late winter before spring has officially sprung. Honey bee colonies at this time are actively raising brood and eating through their pollen stores from the previous year, so access to fresh pollen to make bee bread, which they feed to their increasing number of young, is very helpful for them. In some locations, this may be the only food source available to them at this time of year.

One of my bees on a patch of snowdrops in early March.

One of my bees on a patch of snowdrops in early March a few years ago.

Depending on the variety, Snowdrops can grow in planting zones 3-9, and are a hardy winter blooming flower.  You can buy snowdrop bulbs and plant them in the fall for the following year, but be sure to plant them quickly as the bulbs can dry out and die.  If you would like to plant some in the spring,  you can buy these plants “in the green” with their leaves and flowers showing.  Snowdrops prefer well draining soil and partial shade and grow great under deciduous trees and shrubs in a woodland environment with plenty of humus. They also grow well in pots and containers.  For more information about snowdrops and planting snowdrops for bees please see Snowdrops: Winter Forage For Bees.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

  1. Snowdrops: Winter Forage For Bees
  2. Blue Pollen, Honeybees and Siberian Squill
  3. Planting a Bee Friendly Garden

Snowdrops at Much Wenlock Priory Photo by Daniel.D. Slee via Creative Commons License.

Author: Anita Deeley

Anita Deeley is a biologist and former state bee inspector who maintains 100 honey bee hives. She is the beekeeper, writer, owner and creator of BeverlyBees.com. When she is not spending time with her girls (the bees), she enjoys being a wife to her beekeeping cohort, Brian and mother to 3 little boys (the beekeepers in training). Read more about Anita here >> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Connect with Anita on Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Facebook here.

2 Comments

  1. I have snowdrops in a bed 1/3 of a mile from the hive. Will they travel that far when it’s cold or do I need to plant some closer to the hive? This is the end of my first year with bees. I lost a hive in the fall and hoping my other hive will hang on until spring. All I have are entrance feeders. A man that lives by me and has raised bees for 40 yrs. told me he puts sugar water out in a chicken waterer for days when it gets warm. (I live in NW Arkansas–zone 7 where we get 60- 70 degrees for a few days in the winter and then plummet to the 30’s.) I did this only to have a small cluster die INSIDE the waterer. I guess I’m beginning to panic. Looking forward to reading more from your website. Brenda