If you’re new to beekeeping, you’ve probably heard or read that lavender plants should be somewhere nearby for your bees to forage. That’s because it’s believed that bees love lavender. But does this really make any sense? If bees really like lavender that much, what’s the real reason bees like lavender?
Bees love lavender because it’s a bright color, easy to spot, and has a strong scent that they can smell from miles away. Because bees have poor eyesight but an amazing sense of smell, lavender has become an easy plant to fall in love with. Also, lavender releases a lot of nectar in the early morning.
Like humans and other animals, bees are actually very picky about the flowers they like and are attracted to. However, they have their own preferences for where to get their nectar and pollen. Lavender is at the top of this list. Now let’s see why bees love lavender so much.
Do Bees Like Lavender?
We live in a time when people are looking for ways to make more money while learning more about healthy organic products like honey.
Because of this, beekeeping or beekeeping has become popular for all kinds of people while maintaining a full-time job. Of course, the same people also see the importance of bees to the environment and that they can make good profits due to the high demand for honey and other bee products such as beeswax.
One thing you need to know about honey production is that your bees should be able to forage for nearby plants or flowers. Bees are pollinators who collect nectar and pollen from one plant to another and return the collected nectar and pollen to their hives for food and honey production. This means that it is very important as a beekeeper to have flowering plants around, otherwise your bees will have nothing to eat or use for honey production.
Another thing you need to know is that, like most animals, bees have their own preferences for the plants they like to collect nectar and pollen from. This is similar to how people have their favorite foods based on their personal preferences. The same goes for bees, because where they collect nectar, they also have their favorite places. Of course, they prefer certain plants and flowers for different reasons than other animals prefer certain foods.
With this in mind, it’s often said that lavender is one of bees’ favorite plants for nectar and pollen. We can’t blame them because we love the look and smell of lavender too.
Lavender is actually a genus of 47 known flowering plants native to parts of Europe, Africa and Asia. There are many reasons why people grow lavender in their own gardens or for commercial purposes.
In the garden, the vibrant color of lavender is very special, as its purple hue will appeal to any discerning eye. This makes lavender an excellent choice for ornamental plants in a variety of homes and gardens around the world. In addition, lavender has a unique fragrance unmatched by any other plant or flower.
Lavender can also be used for culinary purposes, and some dishes use it as a culinary herb because of its unique aroma. Due to its aromatic oil, lavender has healing properties, a fact that makes it one of the most commercially preferred products in the world. Because of this, lavender is often used commercially to extract its essential oil, which produces its aroma.
However, lavender is not only loved by humans, but also by bees. A University of Sussex study found that many bees visited a garden with 32 different flowering plants. These plants include various types of lavender. Of course, research shows that 85% of insect visitors to the garden are bees.
Bumblebees are more common than honeybees in 85 percent of the bees that visit the garden, because bumblebees remain the best pollinators in the world. However, honeybees come in second behind their cousin the bumblebee. Bees are also frequent visitors to lavender plants, although bumblebees are more likely than bees to visit these flowers.
However, this study can conclude that bees undoubtedly love and love lavender very much compared to all other plants. Studies have shown that, on average, some plants are more attractive to bees than lavender. However, that doesn’t change the fact that lavender is still loved by many bees, as bumblebees and bees are more likely to visit these flowering plants than any other plant in this garden.
Because of this, some beekeepers will recommend that you grow lavender in your garden, as bees love these plants. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, as bees help keep your garden healthy and thriving, while also having enough nectar and pollen to produce the honey they need.
Why Are Bees Attracted To Lavender?
Now that we’ve established that bees are attracted to lavender, and that these insects are more attracted to lavender than many other flowering plants, you may be wondering what makes lavender so attractive to bees. Before we start, it’s important to note why bees love lavender so much and why they are more attracted to lavender than other flowering plants can be a mystery.
Let’s move on to numbers about bees and lavender. In the same study, conducted by the University of Sussex, bumblebees were found to be more attracted to lavender than bees. However, bumblebees don’t spend much time on lavender, as they only spend about 1.1 seconds on average, while bees spend 3.5 seconds per lavender flower. That’s more than three times as long as the bumblebee spends on lavender.
Therefore, the reason why lavender is more attractive to bumblebees can initially be attributed to bumblebees’ longer tongues, which allow them to reach the nectar of lavender plants more quickly than bees.
Still, bees love lavender, but the problem is that their shorter tongues make it difficult for them to be as efficient as their bumblebee cousins. According to the study, it also explains why bees are more likely to bury their heads in lavender for nectar. Because of this, bumblebees tend to stay on lavender plants longer than they do on the same plant.
To give you some perspective, Grosso lavender flowers are about 7.5mm deep. Meanwhile, the bumblebee’s tongue is 7.5 to 9 mm long. By contrast, bees have to expend a lot of force to make up for the lack of tongue length, which is only about 6 to 7 millimeters long. That alone makes it strange and fascinating that bees still love lavender plants.
It may be strange that bees love lavender so much, the most obvious reason being that lavender doesn’t even contain a ton of nectar. Scientists claim that lavender contains only a small amount of nectar, so it takes a bee a whole week and 300,000 lavender plants to collect a teaspoon of lavender nectar. These numbers are highly counterproductive, considering that honeybees are considered to be creatures that tend to use the most efficient routes for collecting nectar rather than laboriously collecting small amounts of nectar from lavender plants.
The numbers also showed that the lavender plant contained 0.02 microliters of nectar. So if a bee can fill its stomach with 50 microliters of nectar, it will take 2,500 flowers to fill its stomach with lavender nectar. This could take hours, which doesn’t make sense considering it goes against the nature of bees as efficient foragers.
By comparison, a bee should be able to visit an average of 5,000 flowers in a day and make at least 12 trips back and forth from the hive after filling. Therefore, if bees feed on lavender nectar during a season, their nectar foraging quota will be extremely difficult. In short, this could affect their ability to produce large amounts of honey, or even food for the entire hive.
So, with all that said, why do bees love lavender so much in the first place? After all, if they’re going to be efficient workers, shouldn’t they be looking for other flowering plants that have more nectar to collect and are easier to collect?
Basically, what makes lavender so attractive to bees is their general nature, as they rely more on smell than common sense. In a way, they like lavender very much because they find it easier to like lavender compared to other flowering plants.
Bees often have poor eyesight, and if they rely primarily on vision, they may have a little difficulty finding the best flowers for foraging for nectar. As a result, bees only forage when the sun is shining because they can’t see well in low light.
Given their poor eyesight, bees rely on their sense of smell to find flowers for nectar. Honeybees have 170 olfactory receptors on their antennae. To put it bluntly, their sense of smell is 50 times that of dogs. Since a dog’s sense of smell is 40 times that of a human’s, that means a bee can smell much better than a human. This allows them to smell nectar from great distances, as bees can travel more than 6 miles from the hive just to forage from flower beds far from the apiary.
Now let’s summarize all these facts. Bees tend to have poor eyesight, which makes them difficult to see in low light, and they prefer to choose bright colors that are easy to see. At the same time, they have some of the strongest scent receptors in the world, as these insects can easily smell nectar from flowers up to 6 miles from their hives. What does this have to do with why bees love lavender so much?
The answer is simple. Lavender, although it contains trace amounts of nectar, is attractive to bees precisely because they are inherently attractive to their senses. The bright purple hue of lavender, along with its strong and captivating scent, is simply irresistible to any bee looking for a flower. Although lavender is not the most common in terms of nectar, it is more attractive to bees than other plants and its nectar scent.
All in all, lavender may not be the most effective plant for bees to gather nectar, but it still ranks high on their list of preferences, mainly because of its bright color and strong smell that will instantly attract any bee. If bees forage from lavender plants earlier in the day, they may be lucky enough to collect maximum nectar.
As you can see, bees are no different from why we love lavender. They love it because the color and smell of lavender plants appeal to the natural instincts of bees. Meanwhile, for the same reason, we love lavender plants because they are very attractive to the eyes and have a relaxing scent that helps us feel better.
What Kind Of Lavender Do Bees Like?
According to the same study conducted by the University of Sussex, bees were found to be very picky about the type of lavender they prefer. Research has shown that both bumblebees and honeybees prefer to visit higher quality lavender plants such as Grosso, Hicot Giant and Gross Blue.
Of all the different lavender plants in the study, it’s uncertain why bees prefer Grosso, Hicot giant and Gross blue. However, we can be sure that the person who likes the most is not necessarily the person who is the best for them.
So if you want to grow lavender plants in your garden to attract bees, your best bet is to buy the Lavandula angustifolia or Lavandin x intermedia varieties. The reason Lavandula angustifolia is so useful to bees is that it is a persistent flower that can even bloom multiple times a year.
This means you can provide your bees with a consistent diet of lavender nectar throughout the year. At the same time, Lavandin x intermedia is a hybrid that is great for attracting bees as it is the most fragrant lavender plant, which is great if you want the bees to easily spot this plant.
However, any type of lavender plant is good for bees, as these creatures are naturally attracted to them. Also, because of its decorative charm, lavender is always a great addition to any garden.
However, it’s best to have your bees eat a variety of flowering plants on a regular basis, even if they prefer lavender. The reason is that lavender is not the most generous plant when it comes to nectar. So if you expect to be able to provide you with a decent amount of honey each time you harvest your hive, it would be a good idea to grow other nectar-rich flowering plants compared to lavender.