Honey Bees and Tansy

ImageIt’s late July and the bees are kicking into gear on the tansy. I never gave tansy much thought, in fact I never really took much notice of it at all until It started growing in my yard years before I kept bees. Tansy is rather tall. It grows to over four feet here in Western Massachusetts. It’s considered a wildflower but you have to look close to realize that the little yellow “buttons” are actually flowers. You don’t see the typical petals as on other flowers. 

The book Plants and Beekeeping by E.N. Howes, published by Faber and Faber says this about tansy:

“Honey bees do visit the flower heads…..and have been observed probing for nectar as well as gathering pollen. However they do not visit in large numbers”   American Honey Plants by Frank C. Pellet doesn’t have a listing for tansy as a bee plant.

Nevertheless, the honey bees are out there all over my tansy, joined by bumblebees, other native bees and other insects.

by the proboscis sticking out and the pollen on the legs of this honey bee, you can tell she is making good use of these tansy flowers Its a little tough to get good photos with a macro lens, as the bees don’t stop in one spot for long, working the flowers very quickly. Your best bet is to catch one sucking up some nectar as in the photo above.The leaves of the tansy plants

 

 

I’ve heard and read that tansy acts as a mosquito repellent, so I decided to give it a try. One night before going to an outdoor play in an area that had plenty of mosquitoes, I picked some tansy leaves in the front yard and brought them with me. When we got there, I crushed the leaves and put some in the collar of my shirt, hat brim and on my lap. Although some mosquitoes buzzed around me, I didn’t get a single bite. I would have to experiment more to see if it was actually the tansy that worked, but I will surely try it again. Tansy is also used in the garden to ward off harmful insects.

Here is some information from,and a link to the site Our Herb Garden:  http://www.ourherbgarden.com/tansy-companions.html

“Tansy is reputed to be a general insect repellant, deterring many non-nectar eating insects. Our research found that tansy is reported to specifically repel Ichmeumoid wasps, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs, sugar ants, mice, fleas and moths. Tansy is particularly attractive to honeybees. Be cautious where you plant tansy as it is quite toxic to many animals. Never plant tansy where livestock browse or graze.”Image

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About Beekeeping in the Berkshires

Here at Berkshire Farms Apiary we've been keeping bees and making honey since 2005, with hives in most of the surrounding towns. We also make pure beeswax candles, lip balm, and hand salve, as well as give presentations. As secretary of the Northern Berkshire Beekeepers Association, I am very active in the local beekeeping community.
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2 Responses to Honey Bees and Tansy

  1. Sue McCullough says:

    I was searching Tansy today b/c I found some growing on this old farmstead we’ve been rehabbing. I have one hive (my 1st year w/ bees), but didn’t see any bees interested in it,. So I was intrigued when I found your comments. I have found ‘my girls’ & every other wild bee loves a plant called Motherwort. Are you familiar w/ this plant?

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