What’s flowering now: early June

A while ago now, on a Sunday evening, 2nd June to be precise, I went for a lovely evening walk in my local park. I had been imprisoned in a hot car all day, from Sheffield to London, watching the tarmac whir past. It felt great to venture out into the sunshine as it slowly slipped away.

Evening sky

A few wispy clouds scudded across the sky. Blackbirds rattled their evening cries and bunnies hopped.

Blue sky

Pretty pink flowers. Do bees like them? Not sure, but moths do.

EDIT: standingoutinmyfield has left a comment below to say that these pink beauties are a species of Silene (commonly known as campion). 

Do you see the moth?

Do you see the moth?

Again, not sure what these white flowers are…

White flowers
At least I can recognise Bunnies. They looked like babies, sat nibbling grass with their mother in the distance.

The babies sat very still

The babies sat very still

Buttercup yellow

Buttercup yellow

Buttercups produce a toxin which prevents them being eaten by grazing animals like ponies. They have been around a long time – 130 million years. Insects like sawflies, aphids and beetles enjoy pollinating them.

Bumblebee on nettle

Bumblebee on dead-head nettle

A bumblebee staying up late for nettles.

Plants and Honey Bees: their relationships by David Aston and Sally Bucknall (Northern Bee Books, 2004) says: “Special mention must be made of the importance of white dead-nettle as a bumblebee forage plant for queens emerging from hibernation in spring.”

Dandelion

The dandelions’ time has passed.

Dandelion 2

Alkanet is still going strong and attracting plenty of bee action. The bees move so fast on it – in and out of the tiny open flowers in less than a second – that I haven’t got a non-blurry photo of them enjoying it yet.

Green alkanet (also known as evergreen bugloss)

Green alkanet (also known as evergreen bugloss)

There is plenty of blossom still around. Below is hawthorn (also known as May). I know the leaves well, because my mum used to buy in silkworm larvae. She was a infant school teacher and used the silkworms to demonstrate their life cycle to her classes. Silkworms originally came from Asia; they prefer mulberry leaves, but will also eat oak and hawthorn. We collected bushels of oak and hawthorn and took them to the growing larvae, who quickly turned into plump, voracious caterpillars, mechanically munching their way to adulthood.

Hawthorn blossom

Hawthorn blossom

Unfortunately Plants and Honey Bees: their relationships tells me that “Hawthorn only secretes well when the temperature is exceptionally high, at least 25C during its flowering period” (p.31). The temperature rarely gets that high here. Hawthorn honey is said to have a sweet almond scent and taste.

Canal

So some old favourites are over already – bluebells, dandelions. Nettles and alkanet are still going. Other June flowers include field beans, acacia and lime.

Thistles, clover and blackberry brambles should be out a little later. After them will follow rosebay willow herb, himalayan balsam and ragwort; later still michaelmas daisies and finally ivy is the last big bee-friendly forage of the year. But I don’t want those times to be here yet.

A satisfying walk. What’s flowering where you are?

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper living in Ealing, west London. I have been keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary since 2008 and created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully - future successes. Busy taking the British Beekeeping Association module exams too!
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27 Responses to What’s flowering now: early June

  1. The pink flowers are a Silene, not sure what species, though.

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  2. What lovely words and pictures – very relaxing after a dreary, cloudy day in the city.

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  3. Mei says:

    some strawberries and loganberries are flowering (and fruiting too) and the bees really love the poached egg plant. They love my neighbours’ polygonatum with their pink spires like mini bottle brushes and I’ve also seen them on the euphorbia, and they seem to get drunk all over the angelica.

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  4. It is interesting that hawthorn doesn’t secrete very well below 25 degrees. I noticed it wasn’t very popular with the bees this year but it was a very cold spring and below 25 degrees when I was looking. I suspect other plants may be similar.

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    • Emily Heath says:

      Ah yes. It seems a strange strategy in such a cold country. Perhaps a throw-back from when the country was hotter, and hawthorn hasn’t yet evolved to keep up? Or maybe other pollinators like beetles and flies are attracted to its pollen without need for a nectar reward. It’s a common plant so it must be doing something right.

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  5. agnesandcora says:

    Lovely photos. There are lots of red campion in bloom in the hedgerows round here (your pink flowers, I think), the hawthorns look like brides with their white blossoms, gorgeous buttercups are everywhere and I especially love the frothy lace of cow parsley. I love this time of year! By the way, your bee brooch appeared in this month`s issue of Mollie Makes magazine!

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  6. theresagreen says:

    Lovely post Emily, I didn’t know about the Hawthorn blossom either, sounds like an interesting book. Everyone is right about your pink/red flowers, definitely Red Campion-Silene dioica. Nice to see the moth too, it’s easy to overlook them as pollinators.

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  7. The roses in my garden are just finishing. I’ve seen bumblebees in the delphiniums and the lavender, and the evening primroses (Oenothera) and daylilies (Hemerocallis) are also blooming. The yarrow and Echinacea are getting ready to open next. I’ve noticed linden (your lime trees, I believe) in bloom around town, though we don’t have any in our neighborhood. (A pity, as they are my absolute favorite. Maybe I should plant one.) While sitting at a stoplight this morning, I saw a patch of small thistles on the side of the road, absolutely abuzz with honeybees. 🙂 (This is in Lexington, Kentucky, USA, USDA Zone 6, by the way.)

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  8. Eddy Winko says:

    Improving my plant knowledge every time I visit; thank you 🙂

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  9. Than sounds like a good book, one I would enjoy. I really like knowing what the bees like, why and when. Beautiful walk in the park, Emily,

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  10. beatingthebounds says:

    Ah – you beat me to it, both with an evening walk, and a post about an evening walk.
    In profusion we have buttercups, welsh poppies, cow parsley, campion, daisies, oxeye daisies, brid’sfoot trefoil, foxgloves.
    We have some real rarities too – lily of the valley, lady’s-slipper orchids.
    Our garden is swamped with green alkanet which seems to have seeded from a few plants by the garage. Lemon balm, comfrey and marjoram keep appearing here and there too. I feel more kindly towards these invasive plants knowing that the bees like them.

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    • Emily Heath says:

      Must be very beautiful. You have a greater variety of flowers by the sounds of it. Wish I could get marjoram appearing on its own, I tried to grow it for the bees in a pot but it failed!

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  11. Alex Jones says:

    I see the same sort of flowers in Colchester, UK.

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  12. What a lovely walk. Wonderful photos. Neat to see what is blooming in your area. We still have some wildflowers blooming. Salvia Gregii and flame acanthus continually bloom throughout the summer. They handle the heat and lack of rain very well. Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. love them. Copper canyon daisy also blooming.

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