Floral Calendars as a Tool for Beekeepers

Thursday 22 April 2021

This week’s blog begins a short series on understanding and supporting the needs of both native and managed pollinators in our region through floral resources. Floral calendars are an excellent tool for beekeepers and provide information on the flowers that provide for bees. Knowing what is blooming when and where can help beekeepers better understand colony dynamics throughout the beekeeping season and better manage their hives accordingly. Keep reading to learn more about why floral calendars are beneficial to beekeepers!

There are many information sources available on floral resources for bees including both books and online sources. In this week’s blog, we feature an online floral calendar that can be used by beekeepers in every province across Canada. As spring progresses, more and more flowers will be popping up to show off their lovely blooms and we are so ready for it! Keep following along to learn how you can use this floral calendar to identify what flowers are pollinator favorites in your region.

Floral Calendars as a Tool for Beekeepers

It is well known by beekeepers that beekeeping follows seasonal cycles, and that seasonal weather impacts the bees and beekeeping activities in each season, especially when considering the availability of pollen and nectar sources. The amount of food available in a colony is a strong determining factor of brood production and therefor also colony population, which ultimately determines the overall productiveness of a colony. Knowing when pollen and nectar are available in a particular region is valuable knowledge to have as a beekeeper. Floral calendars provide this valuable knowledge to beekeepers and often include specific information regarding:

  • What floral resources are available to bees and other pollinators in a specific region
  • Which floral resources are preferred by bees and other pollinators
  • When the floral resources bloom and for how long
  • Yearly cycles in nectar flow and pollen availability.

With this information, beekeepers can use this as a consideration when choosing an ideal apiary location based on specific operation goals. If high honey yield is the goal, placing hives in an area where there is an abundance of high nectar producing blooms or moving hives to follow nectar flows would help achieve this objective. Floral calendars can also assist in determining an optimal time for harvesting honey based on the specific nectar flow cycles of the flowers present in the area. If the goal is more focused on early spring buildup and colony growth, it would be beneficial to place hives in an area where with flowers that supply an abundance of pollen resources to support brood rearing. Beekeepers can also use information from floral calendars to provide floral resources for bees around an existing apiary by planting flowers that will effectively support the resource requirements of the hive(s).

Once there is an understanding of the floral resource availability throughout the beekeeping season in a given area, beekeepers can also use this information to anticipate a resource dearth according to what floral plants are present. Certain flowers bloom at certain times and, depending on the floral diversity of the area, the beekeeper may choose to provide colonies with supplementary food sources when there is a gap in the natural availability from floral sources.


Honey & Pollen Plants for Canada’s Beekeepers: An Annotated Electronic Floral Calendar *

“Honey & Pollen Plants for Canada’s Beekeepers: An Annotated Electronic Floral Calendar” is an online floral calendar made specifically for beekeepers in Canada. This resource allows beekeepers (and anyone else that is interested) to determine which plants bloom where and when, and what the value of each listed plant is in terms of providing resources for bees. Plants can be easily searched by common or scientific name, by season, and/or by region.

This calendar was originally developed with funding from Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food in 2013 for Ontario beekeepers, and was later expanded to include resources for beekeepers in every Canadian province. It provides information relevant to pollinators on over 260 honey and nectar producing plants that grow across Canada, along with photos to aid in plant identification.

“This resource was created by the Canadian Pollination Initiative (NSERC-CANPOLIN) with financial support from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the University if Guelph through the Knowledge Translation and Transfer (KTT) program. Seeds of Diversity is generously hosting the website” *


* Honey & Pollen Plants for Canada’s Beekeepers: An Annotated Electronic Floral Calendar 

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