Posted by: ktzefr | September 27, 2012

Honeybee on the Heliotrope

Honeybees are scarce these days.  It’s a rare treat to find one in the garden.

Honeybee on heliotrope flowers; Photo:KFawcett

When I was a kid I hated honeybees.  I always went barefoot in the summer and stepped on them.  They loved the white and purple clover flowers that sprouted up across our lawn.  It was unfortunate for both the bee and me that the stinger always got left in my foot and I had to pull it out.  It hurt like heck, but my mom made me feel better by reminding me that when the bee lost its stinger it died.  I wasn’t the least bit sad.

I don’t run barefoot through the grass anymore and haven’t been stung in years.  These days I like bees (though not all bees) and have a great deal of respect for their importance in the larger scheme of things. 

I saw this one the other day on the heliotrope flowers and was able to get some pics.   The bee is a pretty gold color with dark markings and clear, fragile-looking wings that are amazingly sturdy and efficient.   Although human beings enjoy feeling all important in this world, we are quite dependent on this tiny creature.  The honeybee accomplishes about 1/4 of the pollination needed for all the fruit produced for human consumption in the US.  These little critters do an estimated $10 billion worth of work each year!  We don’t have a good, cheap replacement, so we’d better make sure we take care of them.  Check here for more info about honeybees

If you’re looking for something new to plant in the garden — and attract the bees — next year, check out the heliotrope.  For many years it was difficult to find these plants in garden centers, but they can be easily grown in containers, they bloom all summer, and the flowers have a lovely fragrance, sort of a vanilla scent.   They come with white or lavender flowers, but I love the old-fashioned variety the best, like the ones in the picture.  Look for dark green crinkly leaves and deep purple flowers.  Mine is still blooming and will probably do so until the first frost.




  1. What a great little article! I had no idea they were related to borage, which I grow ffor my home bees. It looks as if the heliotrope can easily be propagated from cuttings, so that will be my aim.Thanks for a great photo

    • Thanks Richard. Glad you enjoyed reading it.

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