We've been experimenting with growing plants for bees. There are plenty of plants that have flowers that bees love. And lots of lists of good ones too. But we need ones that will produce excellent honey, as well as thrive in our country and climate. And then there is the need to grow quickly enough to make it all worthwhile. Some forest giants produce excellent bee flowers but you need to wait for so long for them to get going (although I do wonder how high a bee likes to fly to get to the flowers - might need to research this too).
The big honey-producing flowering plants in NZ is manuka and kanuka. So this is our first plant experiment.
Here they are in autumn at the beginning of the year. These ones (microscopic) are from seeds that we collected from manuka and kanuka trees. These little plastic trays are not that great, they all blow around in the winter winds, and break apart from each other. Probably they are best to save if you have a glasshouse operation.
No glasshouses here though, the outdoor dining table and chairs are covered in potted up seedlings. These ones are from cuttings, they seem to get more growth on than the seeds, but are more time intensive making the cuttings, and there is an amount that conk out before they get to this stage.
Potting, potting, potting. You do need to continually be on to the potting up - moving them into bigger and bigger pots, before they become too root bound. Good thing it is immensely satisfying then.
When we got over the little pots (the first pic) we tried out seed trays. These do work better, but you do need to be vigilant to potting up as their roots all start to get inter-tangled.
Look at this - babies not so long ago, they've got spring-powered rocket juice under them now! Some of them are lovely and bushy too. These are the cuttings (I think, but they have been moved around so much the system has rather lost the history of each plant, so an inconclusive experiment then...)
Isn't this just the most satisfying sight? Growing something from nothing (except quite a lot of sweat). Still got to dig the holes to plant them though, might be busy that day!
For more information sign up to collect your free downloadable Pictorial Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Manuka Trees from Seeds. Free! And there is lots more information on Business of Bees including downloadable courses on all aspects of growing and planning manuka plantations for bees.