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Smartweed for bees

Honeybee on smartweed

Conventional wisdom has it that honeybees are attracted to asters and goldenrod at this time of year.  The chilly, cloudy weather we've had lately hasn't been conducive to much bee activity at all, but when the sun does tempt our bees out, they go straight to the smartweed instead.  Tiny, pink smartweed flowers seem to be just my bees' speed, especially since the "lawn" right outside their hive is chock full of it.

I have a difficult time identifying smartweeds.  All of them belong to the genus Polygonum, half of them are invasive species, and most areas have about two dozen look-alike species to choose from.  My best guess is that my smartweed is Oriental Lady's Thumb (Polygonum caespitosum), a native of Asia that is common in damp areas.

Mark suggested collecting seeds of the smartweed and expanding its territory since the flowers seem to be so popular with the bees.  I'm not comfortable encouraging invasive plants too much, but I think I will make a habit of skipping the last grass mowing in the fall to give our bees some late nectar right by the hive.

Buzz on over and check out our homemade chicken waterer.


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