Knowing the timing of the local nectar flow…recognizing the types of pollen bees are collecting…identifying the flower sources for that pollen. These are all important beekeeper questions. Therefore, we’ve created this helpful reference guide to blooms specific to our Orange County area.
The goal of this project is to provide a resource for OCBA members and others who are interested in what their honey bees might be foraging on throughout the year in Orange County, NC. This list highlights plants which are considered important nectar and/or pollen sources in the piedmont region of NC according to [1-3]. It also incorporates member input on other garden plants that are attractive to honey bees and other pollinators. While individually these may not be a main food source, collectively, this diverse group of plants with varying bloom times provides important forage for honey bees outside of the main nectar flow period.
In addition to providing details on bloom period and basic plant information, when possible we also include harder to find details such as ratings of the value of each nectar/pollen source, honey flavor profiles (for those plants that produce monofloral honey varietals) and pollen color. Observing pollen color in a foraging honey bee’s corbicula is a sure way for a beekeeper to know what flowers their bees are visiting. This is because honey bees tend to exhibit “floral fidelity”. On any given foraging trip, a bee will tend to gather from one type of flower. For a more detailed explanation of this phenomenon, see the wonderful article, Little Bee, Where Have You Been?
Coming Soon — Interactive Reporting Tool
We are currently underway with the creation of an online reporting tool where OCBA members can submit photos, bloom time observations and location data. This will be a “citizen-science” project, where the information gathered will help populate a database of real-world observations. We envision that this database will provide more accurate bloom time data, and a level of detail not available anywhere else, including year-to-year variation and regional differences within Orange County. In the future, this bloom reporting tool could be expanded to other NCSBA chapters.
 North Carolina State Beekeepers Association (NCSBA) website, “Common Floral Sources in North Carolina”, Piedmont region  HoneyBeeNet, List of Honey Bee Forage Species within Region 11 (Appalachian-Ozark Upland) for the state of NC  The Hive and the Honey Bee, 2015 ed, Chapter 13, Ayers and Harman: Important Nectar and Pollen Plants of the Continental United States and Canada
Note: The information compiled here was gathered from a variety of outside sources. Data on bloom time, in particular, can vary widely within a region, location, microclimate, and at the individual plant level. While our goal is to provide reliable information, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information depicted here. Inclusion on this list does not imply planting recommendation, as some listed species are considered invasive. List of resources used to create the What’s in Bloom pages