A Bee’s Delight


This year I planted a drift of Allium sphaerocephalen along the edge of the front lawn. I had seen them growing at Cotswold Garden Flowers last summer and liked the fact that they were one of the later alliums to flower.

They have thrived in the warm and dry border and I am particularly taken with the way they open their florets from the bottom up so they look like they have pointed tops.

However, as much as I like them the bees seem to be completely obsessed with them.  This evening while I was watering the pots in the front garden I noticed that the bees were spending a long time on each bloom.  On getting my camera I found that the bees were so busy, and almost drunk, with the pollen that I could film them for quite some time before they moved off to the next flower.


I am fairly pleased with these pictures but I think my struggle to get the bees and flowers in focus has persuaded me that despite what some people say I really need to progress to a DSLR.  As for the bees I shall be planting three times as many Allium sphaerocephales next year.

From a little research I have discovered that the common name of this plant is the round-headed leek and you can eat the bulb.  It is native to Europe but there is only one wild colony in the UK, in the Avon Gorge, so unbeknownst to me I have planted a native species which is possibly why it is popular with the bees.

21 Comments Add yours

  1. djdfr says:

    Beautiful. Do other things eat it? I had planted some allium but it disappeared.

    1. I think perhaps mice and rabbits ?

    2. djdfr says:

      We have both of those. 😦

    3. there is your answer

    4. Helen Johnstone says:

      we dont have many mice any more as we have a cat who is an excellent hunter, though I thought most things didnt like the oniony flavour

  2. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Bumble bees work until nearly dark and they used to love my scabious. Here there is a long bank with rosemary falling over it and lots of the old dentata lavender for the bees to feed off. Continually in flower so lots of activity even in winter. We have been having problems in NZ with the varoa mite that has wiped out a huge percentage of our native and honey bees. A nightmare for Bio-security.

  3. The bees love our lavender “hedge” along the edge of our patio. They will spend ages working their way from one flower to the next, the seem to be able to go for hours, they hang upside down and do all sorts. They are great fun sit and watch.

    I wonder if it is the nectar or the colour of the flowers that attracts them, but they seem to love purple!

  4. c says:

    Helen just bumble bees or have you had any honey bees? My phacelia has been abuzz likewise but not one single honey bee in sight.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Catherine – to be honest I’m not very good at recognising the difference but I think these are honey beeds as they are the small ones and there are lots where I think bumble bees tend to be bigger and more solitary – or maybe I’m wrong

  5. Pauline says:

    Alliums are so good for attracting bees to the garden, wonderful to have them buzzing round you while you were watering your pots.

  6. Anna says:

    We were watching the bees humming rounds ours this morning. I think that they are great bulbs – the colour compliments many other flowers, they are easy going and do not need staking. Moreover they self seed but most considerately so – only problems is that I’ve sometimes mistaken the seedlings for grass.

  7. Cathy says:

    Ooh, I don’t think I realised these were later flowering than some alliums – I must include some with my Peter Nyssen order. Great pictures, Helen!

  8. This is one of my favorite allium….I planted it tucked into beds but I like the idea of a drift….

  9. Judy says you HAVE to have a DSLR! So there.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Well if Judy says I HAVE to have a DSLR – I will go and get one, well when I have the pennies

  10. Extremely useful plant for the bees Helen. I had no idea it was a native, thanks for the info.

  11. Interesting that the bee is waving its leg in your photo. I’ve just looked at a Nurturing Nature video of bees’ back-off signals (http://nurturing-nature.co.uk/bumblebees-and-their-ecology/tree-bumblebee-bombus-hypnorum-displays-back-off-signs-when-feeling-threatened-video/) and I think you might have caught yours mid-warning.

  12. I will have to have a go with these alliums. I like them a lot and the earlier ones seem to thrive up here.

  13. hillwards says:

    I love these late alliums too. They are increasing quite well in our garden from the original bulbs, and are indeed always covered in bees. They have such a lovely neat shape, and deep colouring, great plants.

  14. One of my favourite plants, a definite must-have, they seem to combine well with almost any perennial or grass. Am very impressed with your bee photos, I am never able to capture good shots of them.

  15. Linde Lunney says:

    Yes! I’d noticed the bees seem to get drunk or whatever on this plant, glad to have my observation confirmed!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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