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Tree source farms
Bee collecting pollen
Pollen-laden bees at hive entrance
Bee on plum tree with pollen

The term pollen source is often used in the context of beekeeping and refers to flowering plants as a source of pollen for bees or other insects. Bees collect pollen as a protein source to raise their brood. For the plant, the pollinizer, this can be an important mechanism for sexual reproduction, as the pollinator distributes its pollen. Few flowering plants self-pollinate; some can provide their own pollen (self fertile), but require a pollinator to move the pollen; others are dependent on cross pollination from a genetically different source of viable pollen, through the activity of pollinators. One of the possible pollinators to assist in cross-pollination are honeybees. The article below is mainly about the pollen source from a beekeeping perspective.

The pollen source in a given area depends on the type of vegetation present and the length of their bloom period. What type of vegetation will grow in an area depends on soil texture, soil pH, soil drainage, daily maximum and minimum temperatures, precipitation, extreme minimum winter temperature, and growing degree days. The plants listed below are plants that would grow in USDAHardiness zone 5. A good predictor for when a plant will bloom and produce pollen is a calculation of the growing degree days.

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The color of pollen below indicates the color as it appears when the pollen arrives at the beehive. Bees mix dry pollen with nectar and/or honey to compact the pollen in the pollen basket. Dry pollen, is a food source for bees, which contains 16–30% protein, 1–10% fat, 1–7% starch, many vitamins, but little sugar. The protein source needed for rearing one worker bee from larval to adult stage requires approximately 120 to 145 mg of pollen. An average bee colony will collect about 20 to 57 kg (44 to 125 pounds) of pollen a year.[1][2]


Trees and shrubs – Spring[edit]

Arguments for Land Conservation: Documentation and Information Sources for Land Resources Protection, Trust for Public Land, Sacramento, CA, December 1993. Nowak, David J.; Hoehn, Robert; Crane, Daniel E. Oxygen Production by Urban Trees in the United States.

Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsPollen colorAvailabilitySource for honeybees
MapleAcer spp.Feb – Aprlight yellowferalfair
Manitoba Maple (Box elder)Acer negundoFeb – Aprlight oliveferalgood
Norway mapleAcer platanoidesApr – Mayyellow green, oliveferalfair
Red MapleAcer rubrumMar – Aprgrey brownferal
Grey AlderAlnus incanaFeb – Aprbrownish yellowferal
American ChestnutCastanea dentataMay – Junmostly ornamental
Sweet ChestnutCastanea sativaMayferalgood
Common HackberryCeltis occidentalisApr – Mayferal
Flowering QuinceChaenomeles japonica, Chaenomeles lagenaria, Chaenomeles speciosa 'Nivalis', Chaenomeles x superbaApr – Mayferalgood
American HazelCorylus americanaMar – Aprlight greenferal and ornamentalfair/good
HawthornCrataegus spp.Apr – Mayyellow brownferalfair
White AshFraxinus americanaApr – May
Honey LocustGleditsia triancanthosMay – Junferal
American hollyIlex opacaApr – Junferal
WalnutJuglans spp.Apr – Maycultivatedfair
Tulip-treeLirodendron tulipiferaMay – Juncreamferal and ornamentalgood
Crab AppleMalus spp.Mar – Junlight oliveornamental
AppleMalus domestica, Malus sylvestrisApr – Mayyellow whitecultivated and ornamentalvery good
American SycamorePlatanus occidentalisApr – Maylight oliveferal
PlumPrunus spp.Apr – Maylight grey, greyornamental and cultivated
AlmondPrunus amygdalusFeblight brown to brown pollen – not considered a good pollen source but bees are the primary pollinatorcultivated mostly in Californiafair
Wild CherryPrunus aviumApr – Mayyellow brown, light brownferalvery good
Cherry PlumPrunus cerasiferalight brown to brownferalfair
Sour CherryPrunus cerasusApr – Maydark yellowornamental and cultivatedvery good
PeachPrunus persicaApr – Mayreddish yellowornamental and cultivatedgood
Black CherryPrunus serotinaApr – Mayferalminor
BlackthornPrunus spinosaMar – Mayfirebrickferalgood
PearPyrus communisApr – Mayred yellowornamental and cultivatedgood
OakQuercus spp.Mayferal
OakQuercus robur, Quercus pedunculataMaylight oliveferalminor
Black LocustRobinia pseudoacaciaMay – Junferal
BlackberryRubus spp.May – Junlight greyferal and cultivated
RaspberryRubus idaeusMay – Junwhite greyferal and cultivatedgood
WillowSalix spp.Feb – Aprlemonferalgood
White WillowSalix albaferalgood
Goat WillowSalix capreaMar – Aprferalvery good
Violet WillowSalix daphnoidesMar – Aprferalvery good
Pussy WillowSalix discolorMar – Aprferal and ornamental
Basket WillowSalix purpureaMar – Aprferalvery good
Silky leaf osier, Smith's WillowSalix x smithianaApr – Mayvery good
American mountain ashSorbus americanaMay-Junferal
American ElmUlmus americanaFeb – Aprlight greyferal
Winged ElmUlmus alataFeb – Marpale yellowferalgood
Europea field elmUlmus americanaferalgood


  • Flying honeybee with red pollen in pollen basket, likely on henbit

  • Bees in April with blue Siberian squill pollen in pollen basket

  • Honeybees in May with red (likely Horse chestnut) pollen in pollen basket

  • Dandelion pollen

Flowers and annual crop plants – Spring[edit]

Source tree gitlab
Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsPollen colorAvailabilitySource for honeybees
Ajuga (Bronze Bugle, Common Bugle)Ajuga reptansmid spring
ChivesAllium schoenoprasumMay – Sepcultivated?
AsparagusAsparagus officinalisMay – Junbright orangecultivated
MustardBrassica arvenisiApr – Maylemoncultivated and feral
Canola (Oilseed Rape)Brassica napusMay – Junlemonextensively cultivatedvery good
Yellow CrocusCrocus vernus (syn. Crocus aureus)Aprilorange yellowferal and ornamentalfair
Leopard's BaneDoronicum cordatumApr – May
Winter aconiteEranthis hyemalisMar – Apryellowferal and ornamentalgood
SnowdropGalanthus nivalisMar – Aprorange, redfair
HenbitLamium amplexicauleAprilorange red, red, purplish redApr – Julpoor
Common MallowMalva sp.Apr – Sepmauveferalgood
White Sweet CloverMelilotus albaMay – Augyellow to dark yellowferal and cultivatedgood
Yellow Sweet CloverMelilotus officinalisMay – Augyellow to dark yellowferal and cultivated
SainfoinOnobrychis viciifoliaMay – Julyellow brownvery good
Siberian squillScilla sibiricaMar – Aprsteel blueferal and ornamentalgood
White mustardSinapis albaJunelemonferal and cultivatedgood
Chick weedStellaria mediaApr – Julyellowishferalminor
DandelionTaraxacum officinaleApr – Mayred yellow, orangeferalvery good
GorseUlex europaeusMar – Declight firebrickferalgood


Trees and shrubs – Summer[edit]

Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsPollen colorAvailabilitySource for honeybees
Red Horse chestnutAesculus carnearaisin [3]feral
Horse chestnutAesculus hippocastanumMay – Jun after 80-110 growing degree days.anatolia [3]feralgood
Southern CatalpaCatalpa bignonioidesJun – Julornamentalfair
Northern CatalpaCatalpa speciosaJun – Julornamental
BluebeardCaryopteris x clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue' Aug – Sepvery good
Virginia creeperParthenocissus quinquefoliaJul – Auggood
Boston Ivy 'Veitchii'Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Veitchii'Jun – Julgood
SumacRhus glabraJun – Jul
ElderSambucus canadensisJun – Julcanary yellow [3]
Basswood or American LindenTilia americanaJun – Julyellow to light orangeferal and ornamental
Little Leaf LindenTilia cordatacitrine [3]feral
BlueberryVaccínium myrtíllusJunred yellow, orangecultivatedpoor

Flowers and annual crop plants – Summer[edit]

Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsPollen colorAvailabilitySource for honeybees
AlliumAllium spp.feral and cultivated
OnionAllium cepalight olivecultivated
ChivesAllium schoenoprasumMay – Sepferal and cultivated
Garlic chivesAllium tuberosaAug – Sepferal and cultivated
Leadwort syn. IndigobushAmorpha fruticosaJun – Julornamental?
AsterAster spp.Sep-Frostreddish yellowferal and ornamental
Land-in-blue, Bushy AsterAster x dumosusAug – Sepbronze yellow [3]feral
BorageBorago officinalisJun – Frostblueish greyornamental
MarigoldCalendula officinalisJun – Seporange
Heather sp.Calluna vulgarisJul – Augyellow white, whitegood
HempCannabis sativaAugyellow greengood source
Blue ThistleCarduus spp.
Star thistleCentaurea spp.Jul – Sep
Persian centaureaCentaurea dealbatahemp [3]
KnapweedCentaurea macrocephalaJul – Auggood
KnapweedCentaurea nigravery light olive
Chicory[4]Cichorium intybus L.white
CotoneasterCotoneaster spp.good
CucumberCucumis spp.pale yellowcultivated
MelonsCucumis meloJun-Frostpale yellowcultivated
PumpkinCucurbita pepoJun-Frostbright yellowcultivated
Fireweed (Rosebay Willowherb)Epilobium angustifoliumJul – Augblueferal
Joe-Pye weed, BluestemEutrochium spp.; Eupatorium purpureumAug – Sepbistre green
BuckwheatFagopyrum esculentumJul – Auglight yellow to light greencultivatedgood source
Blue vineGonolobus laevis syn. Cynanchum laeve
SunflowerHelianthus annuusJun – Sepgoldenferal and cultivated
JewelweedImpatients capensisyellowish white
AlyssumLobularia maritimaJun – Sep
LupinLupinus sp.Jun – Julwhite, yellow or blueminor
MallowMalva sylvestrisJun – Sep
AlfalfaMedicago sativaJuly – Augkhaki [3]feral and cultivated
CloverMelilotus spp. and Trifolium spp.May – Augferal and cultivated
White Sweet CloverMelilotus albaauburn [3]feral and cultivated
Yellow Sweet CloverMelilotus officinalisauburn [3]feral and cultivated
BasilOcimum basilicumwhiteornamental
PoppyPapaver orientaleMay – Julblueish greyornamental onlygood source [5]
Opium PoppyPapaver somniferumMay – Jungreyferal and ornamentalvery good source
PhaceliaPhacelia tanacetifoliaJun – Sepnavy blueferal and cultivatedgood source
SmartweedPolygonum spp.Aug – Sep
Common ChickweedStellaria mediaApr – Julminor source
GermanderTeucrium chamaedrysJul – Aug
Alsike CloverTrifolium hybridumyellow browngood source
Crimson CloverTrifolium incarnatumdark brown
White CloverTrifolium repensJun – Julcaledonian browngood source
Cat-tailTypha latifoliaJun – Jul
Common vetch[verification needed]Vicia craccaJul – Aug
Spring Vetch[verification needed]Vicia sativaJul – Aug
Sweet CornZea maysJun – Julyellowish whitecultivated


Trees and shrubs – Fall[edit]

Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsPollen colorAvailabilitySource for honeybees
Chinese Elm, Lacebark ElmUlmus parvifoliaAug – Sepornamentalgood

Flowers and annual crop plants – Fall[edit]

Common nameLatin nameBlooming monthsPollen colorAvailabilitySource for honeybees
AsterAster spp.Sep-Frostreddish yellow
BorageBorago officinalisJun – Frost
MelonsCucumis meloJun-Frostcultivated
Sweet autumn clematisClematis ternifolialate Septwhiteornamental
PumpkinCucurbita pepoJun-Frostbright yellowcultivated
IvyHedera spp.Sep – Octdull yellow or black?feral and ornamental
GoldenrodSolidago spp.Sep – Octgoldenferal
Source Of Tree


See also[edit]


  1. ^THE R-VALUES OF HONEY: POLLEN COEFFICIENTArchived 2006-07-24 at the Wayback Machine accessed Feb 2005
  3. ^ abcdefghi[1]
  4. ^Legan, Christiaan (2012-07-21), mmm.. chicory, retrieved 2019-07-18
  5. ^Die Honig Macher ( in German )
  6. ^Bienenweide Arbeitsblatt 207, Bieneninstitut Kirchhain, 2001
  7. ^Tew, James Some Ohio Nectar and Pollen Producing PlantsOhio State University Extension Fact Sheet, 2000
  8. ^Stahlman, Dana Honey Plants Flowering Plants/Trees 2004
  9. ^Hodges, Dorothy; The pollen loads of the honeybee, Bee Research Association Limited, London, 1952
  10. ^Lamp, Thomas; Bienennährpflanzen 1 : Gehölze Nov 1999; accessed 05/2005
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