Roses For Your Honey

Conventional wisdom dictates that bees aren’t fond of roses. That isn’t always true.

I agree that bees aren’t crazy about muscling their way into a tightly closed hybrid tea rose or struggling to find the pollen in a David Austin cabbage rose.

But they love the old- fashioned less-complicated roses like Sweet Briar and the Gallica Rose.

Bee on a Sweet Briar Rose

Known as the Sweet Briar Rose because of the strongly apple-scented leaves, this rose is a favorite English native that has been recorded in literature from Chaucer to Shakespeare. R. eglanteria, or Eglantine, has been common in cottage gardens because it is not only hardy but always fragrant, whether or not it is in bloom. The rambling shrub is large, thorny, and vigorous with dark green, slightly rough foliage. Spring flowers are pink with five petals and have a good rose fragrance of their own. R. eglanteria should be part of every fragrance garden. Rain, wind and sun all seem to bring out the perfume of the plant.

Bee on a Gallica Rose

The Gallica Rose is a European wild rose, a small shrub (usually less that 4 ft) and by convention considered red (actually more a deep reddish pink). A semi-double form “Officinalis” (see photograph) is one of the earliest recorded cultivated roses. It has many names, for instance: “The Provins Rose” (after the beautiful medieval town of Provins just outside Paris), or simply “The Red Rose”. It is also the rose with the best claim to being the “Red Rose of Lancaster“, the symbol of one of the warring factions in the wars of the roses.

So both you and your bees can enjoy roses in your garden. Happy Valentine’s Day!

5 thoughts on “Roses For Your Honey

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Lovely post. Here’s a photo I got last May of a bee on a dog rose: Dog roses are “pollen flowers” – they produce extra pollen as insect food but no nectar.

  2. I wonder if dog roses and Sweet Briar roses are the same thing?

    • Emily Heath says:

      Hi Deborah,

      Looking at Wikipedia, apparently ‘briar’ or ‘brier’ is an old Anglo-Saxon word for any thorny shrub but Rosa rubiginosa (Sweet briar or Eglantine Rose) is a particular rose species. The dog rose is a slightly different but quite similar looking wild rose species, Rosa canina. Interesting!

  3. […] Roses For Your Honey( […]

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