Durango BOtanic Gardens

Building Public Gardens Committed to Demonstration and Education

BULBS ARE THE BEE'S KNEES              

Spring is the time when we look forward to our gardens awakening for the year.  Bees are also getting back to work, and early spring is make-or-break time for some bees.  While I have added to my bulb collection every year for the sheer enjoyment of the colors and variety of bulbs, I had not given much thought to bulbs’ benefits to bees. 

               I attended a presentation by Dr. Gabriela Chavarria, a world authority on bees, at the Plant Select® Annual Meeting at the Durango Botanic Gardens.  She made a strong case for planting spring-blooming bulbs as a source of food for bees.  Although Colorado is an ideal location for most bulbs, bulbs are still underutlized here.

               Bulbs like Snowdrops, Glory of the Snow, Crocus, and Siberian Squill can provide much-needed food as the temperatures start to warm but before dandelions have started blooming.

               As the season progresses, some urban landscapes have been mowed or have had applications of weed killer to remove dandelions from lawns.  Mid-spring bloomers like Grape Hyacinth, Fritillaria, and Indian Hyacinth will attract and provide an oasis for bees. 

               Later in spring, there are more options for bees, but gardeners who have planted bulbs will be rewarded with more bee activity for their gardens in general.  Alliums, Spanish Bluebells, and Dutch Iris add glorious colors, shapes, and lots of built-in landing places for bees.   

               Surprisingly, (or maybe not) daffodils are not that attractive to bees, perhaps because all but a few heirloom varieties have been greatly hybridized over the years.  But daffodils are still an indispensable choice and the foundation for a great display because they are deer proof, and they come in so many colors and bloom times. 

               For the ninth year, the Durango Botanical Society’s annual bulb sale on Saturday, October 19, will offer over 10,000 bulbs and 97 varieties of premium bulbs from Holland. The sale runs from 10 am – 1 pm and will be preceded by a talk by Mike Smedley, the premier local bulb aficionado, at 9 am.  The sale will be held at the Fairgrounds Exhibit Hall. 

               Plant a bulb—feed a bee!