When planting specifically to provide fodder for the littlest livestock, diversified flower beds or a flowering meadow will provide it soonest and with careful planning will do so over a long part of the season. But if one can wait for their full growth then certain kinds of trees can provide prodigious quantities of nectar during their bloom time, at least in some years. Three such have arrived today to be planted soon. The accompanying pictures are, of course, from other sources since our specimens are too young yet to be more than mere leafy sticks.
One such is the linden, of which we have written previously. To our still wee little-leaf linden we will add a European Linden (Tilia europaea). With one of us being an immigrant child it seemed appropriate to have the variety that lines so many boulevards in the old country. Perhaps our two lindens will bloom at slightly different times? That would be good since the early summer bloom time is short.
Besides providing nectar for bees the tree can support large populations of a less favored bug, the aphid, which feeds on the sap (apparently without harming the tree) and produces honeydew to feed ants and drip on cars parked underneath. The honeydew is also collected by the bees to incorporate into their honey. As Emily observed in a comment to a recent entry "Eating aphid juice is somehow not as appealing as flower juice."
The tree is called a lime tree in Britain, which confuses many US readers of UK literature who marvel in disbelief that a tropical citrus can survive at British latitudes, even with the aid of the Gulf Stream. Meanwhile in the US the tree is sometimes called basswood, which may be unfamiliar to UK readers but probably conjures no confusing images of fish in its branches. This webpage discloses the etymology.
|Continuing in the European vein, our aged Hungarian relation has regularly insisted that acacia honey is the best and urged us to plant some. Our regular response has been to point out that acacia is a tropical shrub that would not survive a Michigan winter. He would also confuse us by remarking how beautiful the trees looked as we wondered at them surviving even a Hungarian winter. Then we learned that much of the acacia honey in Europe is actually from the Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) or false acacia. Furthermore the locust trees in Hungary, which were planted as part of a 1700s reforestation effort, were imported from our own state of Michigan. After that we had to get one of our own, a native plant with ties to the old country. It blooms before the linden.|
|And finally the not-at-all native Bee Bee Tree (Evodia (tetradium) daniellii) imported from Asia. As can be the way with such immigrant plants there are few to no pests or diseases to plague it in its adopted home. Fortunately it has not been found to be an invasive. It is expected to bloom later in summer than the linden. Perhaps it will bloom late enough to shorten the usual dearth before the goldenrod flow.|