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

Phacelia - good for lots of different bee species

We are finding that this plant is really good for many different types of bees. Here are results of our brief study: Our phacelia plot is about 24 square meters and we first studied the bee activity  in June at midday in full sun for about 20 minutes.  We then continued observing for more types of bee at various other times of day for 5 minutes at a time.

Bee density: approximately 9 bees per square meter when in full sun, 5 per sqm at when overcast - the difference being reduced numbers of honeybees when its cloudy.

Bee diversity: & species observed, most of them repeatedly:  honey bees were the most common (but our hives are only 50 meters away)but we also saw the following:









  • buff-tailed bumblebees
  • red-tailed bumblebees
  • early bumblebees
  • brown banded carder bees
  • common carder bees
  • field cuckoo bumblebees
  • tree bumblebees
  • garden bumblebee (just one)
  • hairy footed flower bee (just one)

Quite a haul!

Observed behaviour:

The honey bees were purely collecting pollen but most of the bumblebees were after the nectar.  The latter have to push their faces past the forest of stamens to get into the small centres to the petals.

It was quite common to see multiple bumblebees in a single flowerhead but the honey bees will not go near a flower that has any other bee on it.

The pollen is dark purple/blue and makes the bees legs look like they have a plaster  on.

Growing phacelia

We  cast the seed on the surface in a rough patch of cleared earth in our field. Then we totally ignored it and left it to fight amongst the native weeds and grass.  It has faired well with this treatment and represents just over half of the vegetation in the plot.