Camellias and Honey Bees

Jan 14, 2019

Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. My friend Ann Nolte lives in a family house near St. Matthews with a yard full of old camellias. She sent me a photograph she took in mid-December after cold weather had damaged the beauty of the flowers that were opened when the night time temperatures dropped below freezing. Although the blossom wasn’t lovely to the human eye, it was dramatically attractive to a foraging honey bee. The single or only slightly double camellias, those with functioning male and female flower parts, can be important food sources for honey bees from fall until early spring when few other life-sustaining flowers are in bloom. Run you finger around the base of the floral parts and then lick it – sometimes you can taste the sweet nectar. A DNR bird expert told me he’s watched our winter-resident rufous hummingbirds feeding from these flowers, too.