Snowdrops are the harbingers of spring. As they start to poke their noses through the cold winter ground in November and December, it’s a message to gardeners that spring is around the corner. The little winter flowering bulbs push through the soil and start to grow tall, their elegant nodding flowers are soon a splash of white in the garden. Snowdrops are tough, hardy little plants that grow from bulbs. They are quite rich in nectar and in pollen and on warmer sunny days you may find winter-active honeybees feeding from the flowers. They collect the bright orange pollen into their pollen baskets and take it back to their colony to store or to feed the new larvae that are already developing inside a healthy honeybee colony.
If you are short of space in your garden, spring bulbs are a great thing to grow in pots and containers not just to brighten a corner of your garden, but also to support the bees.
As spring approaches you may find early emerging Queen bumblebees feeding on the snowdrops too. They are a bit to heavy for the flower stems and may struggle to feed, so make sure that you have other great early winter plants in flower to support these precious pollinators.
Avoid double flowers
Where possible avoid the double flowered varieties, because it is much harder for the bees to access the pollen and nectar and in some plants the extra petals have been formed at the expense of nectaries. It’s fine to have a few double flowers for your own delight but remember that pollinators need a wide variety of open access flowers all the way through every season throughout the year.
If you really want to help the bees, then research from the University of Bristol has shown that one hellebore flower has as much nectar as 157 snowdrops! So plant hellebores as well as snowdrops.