Newfoundland Honey Bee Forage

Honey bees in Newfoundland, or at least where I live on the eastern part of the island, aren’t likely to see any pollen until April when crocuses begin to poke through the soil.

Honey bee on crocus  (April, 13, 2011).

Honey bee on crocus (April, 13, 2011).


And crocuses aren’t even a natural source of pollen. They’re popular in some suburban neighbourhoods, but most honey bees elsewhere won’t find natural pollen until May when the dandelions come into bloom.

Honey bee on dandelion (May 26, 2011).

Honey bee on dandelion (May 26, 2011).


I say this because I’ve casually documented every honey bee on a flower I’ve seen in Newfoundland since I started beekeeping in 2010. So far I’ve documented over 20 flowers that qualify in my mind as Newfoundland Honey Bee Forage. My list is by no means comprehensive, but it provides me with a general idea of what to expect throughout the year.

January: Nothing.
February: Nothing.
March: Nothing.

April: Crocuses in suburban areas, but usually nothing.

May: Dandelions, Rosemary and Alder Bushes, though I’d say the rosemary is questionable.

Honey bee on rosemary (May 23, 2011).

Honey bee on rosemary (May 23, 2011).


June: Dogberry, Sorrel, Blueberry Blossoms, Plum Blossoms, Chuckley Pear, Maple Blossoms, Apple Blossoms, Spruce Tips, Buttercups and Lupins.

Honey bee landing on Dogberry blossoms in Flatrock, NL (June 27, 2015).

Honey bee landing on Dogberry blossoms in Flatrock, NL (June 27, 2015).


July: Purple Clover, White Clover, Comfrey, Strawberry Blossoms, Malva Moschata and Colts Foot. It might look like not much happens in July, but many of the flowers that blossom in June continue to flower into July. The same holds for flowers that blossom in other months too. I’ve seen more than a few honey flows peak near the end of July.

Honey bee on strawberry flower (July 6th, 2011).

Honey bee on strawberry flower (July 6th, 2011).


August: Asters (or Daisies), Knapweed, Honey Clover (or White Sweet Clover), Fireweed, Sea Holly, Goldenrod and False Spiraea. I haven’t listed the flowers in the order in which they bloom because the bloom dates vary significantly due to local environmental factor. Even from year to year the bloom dates can be different by several weeks. For instance, the first time I noticed Fireweed blooming was in August, but the following year it showed up in early July and was in bloom almost right into the fall. So there’s a lot of variation and a lot of overlap.

Honey bee on Fireweed in Flatrock, Newfoundland (August 11, 2015.)

Honey bee on Fireweed in Flatrock, Newfoundland (August 11, 2015.)


September: Autumn Joy (Sedum), Morning Glory and Japanese Knotweed.

Honey bee on Morning Glory. (Sept. 5, 2011.)

Honey bee on Morning Glory. (Sept. 5, 2011.)


October: Nothing.*
November: Nothing.*
December: Nothing.

Although the seasons are delayed in Newfoundland, the summers often brutally short and nothing in bloom for six months of the year, once the flowers do arrive, there doesn’t seem to be any significant nectar dearth and the bees make the most of it. Some humans do too.

* While I’ve yet to see anything blossom in October or November, I’ve seen some plants such as Goldenrod and even Honey Clover linger in small patches long after everything else had died off.

P.S.: The latest update was on August 2nd, 2016, when I added Colts Foot.

2 thoughts on “Newfoundland Honey Bee Forage

  1. So few months providing pollen must be a particular challenge for the bees, as it’s very important for the colony and apparently loses its nutritional value quickly. Perhaps they cope by having a short brood rearing season. How many months of the year do you think they’re broodless? Maybe you don’t know as it’s too cold to open up for about 5-6 months of the year?

  2. Good questions and my answer is I don’t know. I do know the bees bounce back quickly in the new year. Even without pollen supplement or syrup, I’ve seen hives that were broodless in October fill with bees by the end of May.

    There may be other pollen sources that I’m not aware of in April. The bees might even bring in pollen sometime in March, though I haven’t seen that happen yet.

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