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Trees Bees Use: Lavandula angustifolia – A well-known plant loved by bees and people

Usman H Dukku, LLH Bieneninstitut Kirchhain, Kirchhain, Germany

Family: Lamiaceae

Common name: Lavender

Lavandula angustifolia occurs naturally in montane areas of southern Europe and introduced to gardens world-wide. In the northern hemisphere it flowers from June to August.

Apicultural value

Lavandula angustifolia produces copious amounts of nectar and pollen and honey bees (Apis mellifera) forage intensively throughout the day (weather permitting), collecting nectar and pollen. Foragers spend 1.1-2.6 seconds on one flower. Bumblebees, butterflies, flies and solitary bees also forage on this plant. The honey is light white to extra light amber. It is dark in the presence of honeydew. It may have some salty notes. The honey has weak acidity and is without bitterness. Crystallisation is moderate, and premium monofloral lavender honey (mainly from France, Italy and Spain) is highly cherished by consumers.

Description

Lavandula angustifolia is a shrub growing to 1m height. The leaves are entire, lanceolate, oblong, or linear. Flowers in terminal blunt spikes 2-8cm born on long stems. Each spike consists of whorls or rings of six to ten flowers. Flowers are short-stalked. Bracteoles are absent or, when present, minute. Calyx is purple, tubular, ribbed and five-toothed. Corolla is 10-12mm purple or bluish violet.

Other uses

The essential oil derived from the flowers is used in aromatherapy and perfumery, to flavour food and as an ingredient in herbal preparations.

Which plants do your bees use? Send us your favourites – address on page 2

Foraging Carniolan honey bee Apis mellifera carnica
Lavandula angustifolia in full bloom at the LLH Bieneninstitut Kirchhain