borageWhen we began developing our Bee Friendly program in 2012 we knew it would be a slow process. Our goal was to protect honeybees, and at the same time bring attention to problems with the use of Neonic pesticides by many nursery crop growers. At that time, among the 80 or so growers that we deal with on a regular basis, there were a handful of holdouts that were adamant about reserving the right to apply these products. We compiled a list of bee plants that we knew to be clean, and promoted them throughout the nursery. We communicated with our growers, letting them know what we were doing. There were a few speed bumps along the way. Some growers were required to treat their products prior to shipping them into Alameda County. And, our list of Bee Friendly plants was tiny compared to what it could have been, in order to simplify the ordering process for our buyers. Since then public awareness, peer pressure, and/or a new level of awareness about the value of pollinators has caused most growers to “see the light.” Finally we are comfortable saying that any “bee attracting” plant at Berkeley Hort is free of Neonics.

Because of this we list all plants that are known to attract honeybees and native bees, as “Bee Friendly.” These plants can be found throughout the nursery with a bee icon on the plant-information card. This much longer list of “bee attracting” plants has been in the works at Berkeley Hort for many years, and can be found at our sales counter or on our website. It is basically a condensed version of those plants that we have found to be frequented by bees in the nursery, plus additions from the UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab, and the Sunset Western Garden Book, both excellent resources on their own.

No worries about inadvertently poisoning local hives when you get your bee plants here. Bee safe, bee calm, bee happy in this, the year of the rooster.