Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

Late flowering borage boosts winter stores for bees

Borage really is an amazingly opportunist plant requiring only a few days of mild weather - above 15 degrees - to germinate seed. We have lots of it at rosybee; we actively cultivate it in some places and then let is seed itself about where it chooses selectively weeding it out where we dont want it.  It tends to always find a home in a corner of the research bed or an unused bit of the allotment.

Each borage plant flowers for about 2 to 3 months depending on the conditions and this year, iwe had a succession of borage sowings in our bee-crop acre that gave us flower almost continually from April to August. After that we harrowed the area allowing the borage and phacelia to self seed for next year. But its been so mild that the first seeding had decided to flower now.

The result is an unexpected carpet of blue in late October and yesterday in dull sunlight with only 13 degrees of warmth the honey bees were working it at a density of 5 per square meter. This seems to be competing well with the ivy and must be giving them an extra boost although the weight of the hives indicate they already have plenty of winter stores.

by rosi