Menu Close

38 Best crops for honey production

Best crops for honey production

Crops for honey production

The best thing about honey production is with a little help; bees continuously work their hives to produce fresh honey. This means between maintenance and harvesting you can focus your efforts elsewhere. It is of course not that simple, honey bees have become under threat under a whole range of progressive issues. Pesticides, habitat loss, pathogens, invasive species and extreme weather have all led to a decline in their numbers and subsequent production levels.

With agricultural policies leaning towards offsetting carbon and boosting biodiversity we could be at the beginning a new era. Farms of tomorrow will be subsidised for their ability to boost pollinators and stack multiple functions. Boosting biodiversity and producing worthwhile crops is possible, if an ecological approach is taken.

One of the most exciting things about bee keeping is honey acquires its individual taste from local flora. This can give a particular honey a contextual taste based on local habitats or agricultural crops. This adds much added value which is impossible to mass produce on a large scale. In the mountain valleys of Crete, Thyme honey is highly valued for its rich aroma. This aroma is a result of foraging pollen and nectar from pungent wild, mountain, thyme.

Similarly in the untouched Bialowieza medieval Forest in Poland honey from ancient lime trees is delicious and highly sort after.

 Therefore every farmer or self sufficient homesteader should be asking themselves, what crops are good for honey production? What crops will provide me with income or food and provide good quality honey at the same time? Hence we have put together a list of the best 38 crops for honey production below.

Rapeseed

Rapeseed is grown extensively for the production of rape seed oil. In summer its yellow flowers can turn huge swathes of the countryside a radiant yellow hue. Rapeseed is also a good soil stabiliser and makes excellent winter fodder for animal feed. Bees absolutely love to feed on the clusters of flowers.

rapeseed

Rosemary

Rosemary is a popular herb used in kitchen cooking worldwide. This small evergreen shrub produces fresh, aromatic sprigs all year round! The attractive kitchen favourite can also be utilised as hedging stock and within a flower border. Its seasonal, purple blooms are adored by bees!

Thyme

Thyme is a wide ranging, useful and attractive herb. Its tolerance to drought tolerant conditions and attractive carpet forming habit has also made it a popular, landscaping plant. The low growing herb is great to season meats as well as a whole range of culinary pursuits. Its flowers are adored by bees which await its small flowers every summer.

Lavender

There is no denying lavender is a true favourite of gardeners and local bees alike. With its drought tolerance, feathery foliage, blooms and dreamy aroma it is effective both aesthetically and functionally. Commercial lavender production is also extremely profitable being utilised to fragrance numerous products.

lavender

Fennel

Fennel is a resilient Mediterranean, perennial herb which has attractive, airy foliage and large, yellow flower heads. These are absolutely adored by bees and solitary bees in particular. The seeds and leaves of this plant can be used in cooking and flavourings. Fennel attracts the larvae of many beneficial wasps and beetles which prey on pests.

Oregano

Oregano is a favourite crop of the Mediterranean and particularly loved in Italy, Greece and Turkey. This perennial herb comes in many aroma potencies depending on its specific locality. Commonly used as a flavouring on pizza dishes it is always in high demand! The small clusters of flowers are covered in bees during the summer months.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers are easy to grow and truly magnificent when they are in flower. Some varieties can easily get up to ten foot tall and come in a wide range of colours and varieties. Their large flowers are enthusiastically awaited by bees every growing season. These are highly valued for their seeds which can be made into sunflower or sold as bird feed.

Almonds

Almonds are a luxury crop and one which originally comes from the Middle East. Do not be put off by their association with hot climates as there are many, hardy varieties available. As long as you have a well drained, sunny site these can thrive in temperate climates. The early spring flowers are a life line for bees emerging from winter hibernation.

Almond

Peaches

There really is little genetic difference between peaches and almonds. Both provide beneficial early nectar to bees but these are also very effective ornamentals. Peaches are a worthwhile crop but will need a good amount of sun to crop well. If you have a very wet climate then peach leaf curl can become a problem.

Apples

Apple orchards are absolutely covered with flowers during the springtime. as with most fruit trees these provide a welcome kick start to bees early in the season. Apples are an extremely hardy fruit and rarely suffer many problems. The fruits can be eaten raw, cooked in deserts and made into cider or vinegar.

Buckwheat

Buckwheat is a small flowering plant which produces grain like seeds which are used in cooking. Buckwheat being a nitrogen fixing grain was extremely widespread before the industrial revolution. Although it is still popular in Eastern Europe this is a grain which can fix nitrogen hence create its own fertility. Bees absolutely love this crop!

Sumac

Sumac is a medium sized shrub which grows in a vertical manor very much like mahonia. It has lobed, leaves and a tropical or even Mediterranean look to it. Its flowering parts create a lemon tasting spice which is very popular in both the Mediterranean and the Middle East. 

Catnip

Catnip is a delightful, perennial herb which is commonly recognised for its intoxicating effect on cats. This plant is a member of the mint family and forms thick clumps. The amount of bees this plant attracts is nothing short of remarkable; they absolutely love its purple flowers during the summer months.

cat nip

Sage

Sage is a culinary herb used in a wide range of cooking especially in things like stuffing. This small, low growing plant is also very decorative and comes in a wide variety of foliage shades. This makes it good as a ground cover plant with bees valuing its seasonal flowers.

Chestnut

Chestnuts are a much loved nut crop which originated from southern Europe. These can eventually grow into a very large tree but dwarf varieties are also available. These are a sustainable crop producing around 2 tonnes per acre when established. The trees do take around 10 years to start producing when established.

Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts are an extremely hardy, large shrub or small tree which has a delicious nut crop. There are varieties which have been specifically grown for commercial production such as the cobnut. These are longer and larger and were once common during the Victorian era in Europe. Cobnuts are making a comeback and it is important to recognise nut crops are more sustainable than grains which require annual ploughing.

Linden tree

Linden or the European Lime is a large tree native to the northern hemisphere. Its young leaves are edible and can be used for a base for salads. The flowers are famous in honey production for the sweet honey they produce. These can be coppiced on rotation for firewood and charcoal making while the flowers can also be used for herbal tea.

Blueberry

Blueberries are a luxury crop and very worthwhile to grow for their taste and antioxidant properties. These small shrubs can produce large amounts of tasty fruit which are expensive to buy. Their flowers are extremely popular with bees every growing season. They do prefer an acidic soil so may or may not be suitable for your site.

Blueberry

Raspberry

Raspberries are an extremely popular fruit and one which will not go out of fashion any time soon.  These perennial canes have a spreading habit and can be very good croppers. Commercially there will always be a demand for these fruits and the bees love to feed on the flowers.

Broad beans

Broad beans also known as fava beans have been cultivated for around 6000 years. These crops are very useful as they can easily be overwintered ensuring an early season crop. These have also been used as a cover crop and are great, nitrogen fixers. The flowers are highly prized by bees and produce a large, sweet tasting bean.

Runner beans

There are very few who do not appreciate the runner bean as both a generous and tasty crop. During summertime its deep, red flowers make it just as beautiful as any ornamental flowering climber. If grown well and regularly picked these can produce very heavily. Bees can be seen enjoying the long season of flowering nectar which they provide.

Soybeans

These beans are one of the most cost effective sources of protein on earth. It is no wonder it is intensively farmed for agricultural feeds. Soy beans have gained a bad reputation for the destruction of habitats especially in South America. However this is due to the intense greed of human systems not Soya beans themselves. These beans are always in high demand and the bees very much appreciate the flowers.

Squash 

Not typically thought of as a bee crop squash, both winter and summer varieties provide a rich food source for bees. With their large yellow flowers full of pollen bees gorge themselves on this bountiful crop. There is always a heavy demand for these commercially particularly; courgettes, Pumpkins and Butternut Squash.

Chives

Chives are a well known member of the onion family which are harvested for their tightly packed, aromatic foliage. Very much like a very skinny spring onion these perennial herbs are great for flavouring sauces. The edible flowers are commonly used to decorate restaurant dishes and bees love them.

Saffron

Saffron is very well known as an expensive spice but not much is actually known about its growing habits. Saffron is a flowering bulb and very similar to ornamental garden crocus. The flowers are just as attractive if not more attractive than traditional varieties and is surprisingly hardy. It flowers in autumn and bees appreciate its autumn nectar before the onset of the winter season.

Comfrey

Comfrey is not always thought of as an agricultural crop but it used to be. Before the time of synthetic fertilisers comfrey was being investigated as a mass agricultural fertiliser. This is because it has extremely long roots which extract minerals from deep within the soil. Plants can be made into a tea as well as used as an effective organic, fertiliser. This perennial has a long flowering season and bees feed from the flowers continuously.  

Comfrey

Borage

This annual herb is an extremely beneficial, annual plant to both bees and people. During the growing season the blue, star shaped flowers provide abundant food for bees. Once established these plants will self seed freely and are very resilient. The flowers and leaves are edible which are commercially grown for their seeds which are used to make Borage seed oil.

Redcurrants

Red currents are medium sized fruit bushes which are grown both in gardens and commercial farms. The berries can be used in the production of sauces, jellies and even fruit juices.

Blackcurrants

Black currents are pretty much the same thing as redcurrants although red currents are tarter than the black varieties.  These also grow to the same size as redcurrant bushes and the bees enjoy foraging for the flowers

Gooseberry

Very well known for its use in gooseberry pie and jellies this fruit bush is versatile and delicious. It can be grown commercially and for domestic garden production. As a low growing shrub it is ideal for transitional zones between vegetables and larger fruit trees.

Gooseberry

Pears

Like apples, pears are a great fruit to grow for pies, deserts, ciders and even wines. These fruit trees are popular for both homesteads and commercial production. The spring flowers are very welcome spring blossom for bees.

Cherries

Cherries are a true luxury crop which are very popular in deserts and particularly great for making jam. These small trees are commercially grown for numerous cherry, based products and also popular in gardens. Bees benefit greatly from their excellent spring blossom which is also very aesthetically pleasing.

Plums

Plums are a generally underrated in the commercial sector although they are available to buy in season. Plums are great for pickles, chutneys, jellies, sauces and also make very good wine. Plum trees are easy to train into different forms and also make a great, edible hedge. Bees enjoy their early summer blossom as a rich, food source.

Plum

Elderberry

Elderberry bushes are native to Europe and can grow to be very large shrubs. Typically found growing in woodlands and hedgerows they are valued both for their fruits and flowers. Elderflowers are utilised for flavouring drinks and can be made into a fantastic sparkling wine. The berries are delicious but rather small and quite fiddly to harvest on a commercial level. Again the flowers of this shrub are great food source with quality nectar for honey bees.

Cardoons

Cardoons are very similar to globe artichokes but bred more for the thick leaf stems than flower buds. This means unlike Globes, Cardoons are left to flower and their flowers are an absolute magnet for bees.

Jerusalem artichoke

Jerusalem Artichokes are actually no relation to Globe artichokes and Cardoons but are related to sunflowers. Like sunflowers they do have tall stems with sunflower like flowers. These are actually grown for their large tubers which are great eaten both raw and in salads.

Jerusalem artichoke

Rose Hips

Rosehips are well known of by most people but many do not really know what they are. Rosehips are the large berries left behind after rose flowers. This characteristic has been reduced by breeding over the generations but still very common with wild roses.

Old world roses like Rosa rugosa are typically grown for their hips. These can be utilised for making for a number of products including flavouring, jellies and wine making. The flowers are much loves by commercial honeybees in particular.

Thank you for reading our article on the best crops for honey production. If you would like more information on how to encourage bees to your homestead read this intensive article on the subject here.

Back to homepage

How self sufficient homesteading can stop climate change

How Self Sufficiency and Homesteading can stop Climate Change

Ever since our ancestors ventured out of the primeval forest 10,000 years ago we have always sought ‘progress’. From small ...
Read More
How much land does it take to be self sufficient

How much land do you need to be self sufficient?

A fundamental question asked by many in pursuit of a self sufficient lifestyle is ‘how much land do you need ...
Read More
Homesteading skills

Homesteading skills, for Self Sufficiency

Do you know how to grow a garden, bake bread, or grow food? These are some of the vital skills ...
Read More
Homesteading checklist

Homesteading Checklist for self sufficiency

Becoming self sufficient through rural homesteading is a utopian fantasy to many today. The craving for something a little bit ...
Read More
Beginners guide to self sufficiency

A beginner’s guide to self sufficiency & its benefits

Self sufficiency is an aspiration for those who crave a rural and more sustainable way of life. An ever growing ...
Read More
15 recipes for self sufficiency

15 recipes for self sufficiency

Self sufficiency and homesteading is not just about survival and scrimping along. Becoming self sufficient is nurturing a system of ...
Read More
How many chickens do you need to be self sufficient

How many chickens do you need to be self sufficient?

There is a very good reason that every self sufficient community in the world has chickens. Quite simply they have ...
Read More
forgeable foods

27 foods you can forage for free near your home

For many the idea of feeding themselves without a supermarket is a bit of a radical fantasy. For the first ...
Read More
Perennial vegetables

26 Perennial vegetables for the garden

Perennial vegetables are those which come up every year without the need for replanting. Once established, perennial vegetables will provide ...
Read More
Self sufficient homes

Self sufficient homes

Self sufficient living is about producing as much as you can from your local environment. However becoming self sufficient is ...
Read More
Homesteading projects

31 Homesteading projects

Homesteading can be an extremely rewarding lifestyle and a lot of fun. However it is has to be said that ...
Read More
How to store food without electricity

15 Ways to Store Food without Electricity

During the second industrial revolution, the ability to store food was one of the most significant breakthroughs. The invention and ...
Read More
Best climate for Self Sufficiency & Permaculture

The best Climate for self sufficiency

The idea of being self sufficient generally is producing everything you need to live from your homestead. With ecological destruction ...
Read More
Best trees for self sufficiency homesteading

The most useful 22 Trees for a self sufficiency & homesteading

Self sufficient homesteaders are always looking to make the very most out of their plot. Therefore a certain amount of ...
Read More
Best vegetables for self sufficiency

31 Vegetables for self sufficiency

Becoming completely separate from the grid and a system which is destroying the planet is a noble pursuit indeed. Most ...
Read More
What animals do you need to be self sufficient

What animals do you need to be self sufficient?

Becoming self sufficient is not the easiest task when you take into consideration the conveniences of the modern living. However ...
Read More
Crops to help stop climate change

How to stop Climate Change with Crops – Crops for climate change

There is no doubt that human civilisation is at a turning point. Do we continue to walk blindly into the ...
Read More

Temperate Food forests

In the future producing food crops without the need for fossil fuels will become a vital necessity. Governments are beginning ...
Read More
Homesteading products

32 Homesteading products for self sufficiency

Going off-grid is an attractive option if you want more self-sufficiency and minimum dependence on established institutions. Having a life ...
Read More
Ways to heat your home sustainably

10 Ways to Sustainably Heat Your Home

In most homes, energy consumption is an expensive necessity. With the rise in energy prices, homeowners are looking out for ...
Read More
Homesteading good for your health

10 Ways self sufficient homesteading can be good for your health

If there is one thing that is for sure, homesteading is more of a way of life than a hobby ...
Read More
Best crops for winter storage

32 Best Crops for Winter Storage

Growing vegetables for the table is a big part of becoming more self sufficient. However where ever you live in ...
Read More
Best crops for prepping and survival

34 crops for prepping and survival

If one thing that is becoming clear in recent history it is we are living in very turbulent times. Many ...
Read More
How to make a self sufficient garden

How to make a self sufficient garden

Today we are all trying to reduce our impact on the planet and help reduce climate change. Very often a ...
Read More
Homesteading verses Farming

Homesteading verses farming what’s the difference?

What's the difference between farming and homesteading? Homesteading and farming are both pursuits which involve working the land to produce ...
Read More
Self sufficient greenhouse gardening

Self sufficient greenhouse gardening

Most people who are serious about gardening will have a greenhouse of some sort. There is no doubt that the ...
Read More
Crops that add nitrogen to the soil

12 Crops which add nitrogen to the soil

Nitrogen fixing plants are some of the most fascinating in the natural world. Whereas most plants depend on fertility in ...
Read More
Best crops for plytunnels

32 of the best crops for Polytunnels

Polytunnels are one of the best ways to boost crop growing on your plot. Whether you are a self sufficient ...
Read More
best crops for carbon seqestration

12 Best Crops for Carbon Sequestration

It is clear that sequestering carbon from the atmosphere is a big priority in the battle against climate change. Since ...
Read More
Best crops for honey production

38 Best crops for honey production

Crops for honey production The best thing about honey production is with a little help; bees continuously work their hives ...
Read More
Spread the love

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.