Lupins (also called lupines), like many summer flowers in Newfoundland, show up suddenly after the first heatwave of the summer. (Anything over 20Â°C / 68Â°F qualifies as a heatwave in Newfoundland.)
Lupins, which grow mostly on the sides of highways and country roads in large numbers, appeared about two weeks ago during our first (and probably last) heatwave of the summer. I’ve been sitting around in fields of lupins for the past week and haven’t seen a single honey bee go anywhere near them — or any kind of bee for that matter — so I’ve been hesitant to add lupins to my Honey Bee Forage list.But a little Googly action shows loads of photos of honey bees on lupins. That’s good enough for me.
More pollination information on lupins from pollinator.ca: “In some species, honey bees may not be able to trip or open large early flowers, but can do so with smaller flowers later in the season. For large, early flowers, larger bees may be required.”
Also: “Honey bees will readily work lupine, and placing commercial honey bees on the fields produces a highly marketable honey.”
JULY 16, 2016: Found one!
Wow! What a spectacular field of flowers!
The lupins are everywhere. Even if the bees don’t do much with them, having them around is like walking through Van Gogh painting.
I just added some information on lupins as a nectar source for honey bees. Apparently it makes good honey.
I would love to see photographic evidence of honey bees in lupins and red clover here in Newfoundland. We need photos of this for the NLBKA website, forage section. Here in Bonavista Bay, we have a lot of white clover, lupins, daises, purple vetch, buttercup, some red clover, etc. However, at the moment, I see the honey bees 100% in the white clover. I see bumble bees and other pollinator species in the lupins and red clover, but no honey bees. I hear that honey bees will only sip at the lupins if the bumble bees have chewed a hole through the petals so that their cousins can get their shorter tongues at the nectar.
I’ve read that about the lupins, too, that the honey bees have better access once larger bees have opened the flowers. It’s easy to find online photos of honey bees on lupins (and where I live the lupins are in bloom everywhere), but I have yet to see a honey bee go anywhere near the lupins.
Peter, I misread your comment. Specifically, I skimmed this part:
“I hear that honey bees will only sip at the lupins if the bumble bees have chewed a hole through the petals so that their cousins can get their shorter tongues at the nectar.”
I can’t find my source re. bumble bees chewing through lupin petals which then allow honey bees access to the nectar. Therefore, take that with a big grain of salt pending a credible reference. However, I just observed honey bees working lupin and will post photos of this on the Facebook NL beekeeping group shortly.