Apicultura Wiki
by F. N. HOWES

This is the first work to deal comprehensively with the bee plants or bee pasturage of the British Isles. This may be somewhat surprising to those who realize that plant nectar is the "raw material of the honey industry" and that those plants that secrete it in a manner available to the hive bee constitute the very foundations of apiculture. The writer is a member of the scientific staff of Kew Gardens, and has a long experience of bee-keeping, not only in Britain but in other lands. The appearance of such a book, written by a competent authority, is vital at the present time in view of the great increase in beekeeping that has taken place among all classes of the community, in town and country districts alike.
This increase of interest has come to stay.

The book is written for the general reader in a pleasingly simple style, and technical terms are largely avoided. It should appeal not only to beekeepers, but to all interested in plants and plant life.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this authoritative book to beekeepers and growers alike, and I am convinced that it will deservedly become the standard work on the subject in this country.
Journal of the Ministry of Agriculture

This excellent book has the stamp of authority, the writer being a botanist of repute as well as an expert beekeeper. It should prove of great interest to both the beekeeper and the more general reader.
The Listener

F. N. HOWES, D.Sc.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Formerly Botanist, Agricultural Department, Union
of South Africa, and Economic Botanist, Agricultural
Department, Gold Coast. Expert, British Beekeepers'
Association and member of the Apis Club
an account
of those plants, wild and cultivated,
of value to the hive bee,
and for honey production
in the British Isles
F. N. HOWES, D.Sc.
24 Russell Square
First published in June mcmxlv
by Faber and Faber Limited
24, Russell Square London W.C.1
Second impression April mcmxlvi
Third impression January mcmxlviii
Printed in Great Britain by
Latimer Trend & Co Ltd Plymouth
All rights reserved
This book is produced in complete conformity

with the authorized economy standards


There has been a marked increase of interest in beekeeping and the production of honey throughout the country in recent years. This may have been initiated by the Second World War, with the consequent shortage of sweetening materials, and partly by other considerations, such as the better understanding of some of the major bee diseases that now prevails. The number of beekeepers has been doubled or trebled in many localities according to the statistics of Beekeepers'Associations and doubtless the total production of home-produced Honey has been stepped up considerably. It is to be hoped this increase in the Nation's annual honey crop will continue, and, what is of even greater importance, that this increase in the nation's bee population will also be maintained, for it has been proved that the main value of the honey bee in the national economy is as a pollinator for fruit, clovers, and other seed and farm crops. Its value in this respect far outweighs its value as a producer of honey.

Plant nectar has been described as the 'raw material of the honey industry' and those plants that produce it, in a manner available to the honey bee, constitute the very foundations of apiculture. They are obviously of first importance to the beekeeper, whether he or she is a large or small scale beekeeper or belongs to the hobbyist class. A knowledge of these plants and their relative values, for nectar or for pollen, is likely to add much to the pleasure and the profit of beekeeping. An attempt has here been made to deal with the more important bee plants in the British Isles as well as many others that are only of minor importance. Among the latter are to be found both wild and garden plants. Although not sufficiently prevalent in most cases to affect honey yields to any extent such plants have been purposely included in the knowledge that their presence is always beneficial, especially as they so often help to maintain or support bees between the major nectar flows. Much of the pollen collected by bees, so vital for the sustenance of their young, comes from such plants. Furthermore, beekeepers are often keen gardeners and nature lovers and interested in any plant that proves attractive to bees. This no doubt accounts for the present popularity of bee gardens or gardens devoted exclusively to the cultivation of good bee plants, to which a chapter has been given. From the earliest times gardening has been closely associated or connected with beekeeping and the two are obviously complementary and well suited for being carried on together.

Many owners of gardens and flower lovers with no special interest in beekeeping derive great pleasure from observing bees industriously at work on flowers and are fond of growing some of those plants which they know will prove a special attraction, even though they may not always be in the front rank as garden plants. Indications are given as to what plants are likely to be most suitable in this connection and special emphasis laid on some of the newer plant introductions.

Among the minor bee plants will be found quite a number of introduced trees and shrubs that are grown to a greater or less extent for ornament. Some of these are important for honey in their native land and where this is known the fact is mentioned. As some of these plants, especially among those from the Orient, are of comparatively recent introduction, they may become more generally grown and therefore more useful as bee fodder at some future time. It is for this reason they have been included. The more serious-minded beekeeper and honey producer may be interested only in those plants that fill or help to fill his hives. These will be found described at much greater length in Section 2. Some of the major honey plants of Britain such as the clovers, lime, heather and fruit trees are also important for honey in other countries. It is hoped therefore that the book may not be without interest to beekeepers and those interested in such plants in other lands.

The writer is indebted to colleagues and fellow beekeepers for helpful suggestions in the preparation of this work, which has been in the course of preparation for many years. During this period much time has been spent in observing the behaviour of the honey bee towards various wild and introduced plants at different seasons of the year and in different parts of the country. Thanks are due to the Bentham Moxon Trustees, Kew, and to Messrs. Flatters and Garnet, Ltd., Manchester, for some of the photographs.
F. N. Howes
14 Nylands Avenue
Kew, Surrey,
June 1945


Preface ................. page 5


Nectar and Nectar Secretion
Honey in Relation to Nectar Source
Notes on Unpalatable and Poisonous Honey
The Hive Bee and Pollination
Artificial Bee Pasturage or Planting for Bees
Garden Flowers and the Honey Bee
Bee Gardens
Apiary Hedges and Windbreaks
Honeydew and Propolis


Fruit Blossom
Mustard and Charlock
Field Beans