Plant indigenous trees for bees like the lovely Halleria lucida; the Spekboom too is easy to grow.
This magnificent Halleria lucida is a beautiful indigenous tree that comes from Southern Africa; its reddish-flowers produce copious amounts of nectar for honeybees, other insects and sunbirds too.
My apologies about the lime tree in the foreground but this is the best-view I could get; of course, citrus is also in part dependent on bees for pollination.
This page was last updated by Bernard Preston on 9th June 2023.
The common name for the Halleria is the tree-fuchsia because of the
hanging blooms that oddly are found along the branches rather than at the
tips. Thus they are somewhat hidden and it is the profuse buzzing sound
of the insects that draws one's attention to them.
Most gardeners whilst not being against exotics, would rather plant indigenous trees for bees if they equally fit the bill.
Halleria lucida is a particularly beautiful, small evergreen tree that can be grown very easily by slipping or from seeds.
It thrives quite quickly initially; the specimen above is over 30 feet tall and, if other trees in our garden are anything to go by, it could be 100 years old.
Certainly it was already quite large when we moved here nearly four-decades ago.
Do not plant it near a swimming-pool; the flowers and leaves fall into the water creating a mess. We were pleased that one in our neighbour's garden was blown over in a tornado; constant sweeping of the surface was necessary when it was in bloom.
Out in the open it will grow into a broad shrub-like tree. The specimen above is perhaps more typical in that, surrounded by other evergreens, it is tall and graceful.
It is a beauty to behold; we, the bees and all tree-huggers love Halleria lucida.
In water-scarce countries like Southern Africa large numbers of Eucalypts are being felled because they apparently draw up a huge amount and deny our dams; interestingly a prominent forester says that is completely untrue, but the myth endures. The problem is that other exotic invader species like Bugweed immediately replace them turning the area into an ugly jungle.
Companies given the responsibility to fell these Eucalypts should be compelled to plant indigenous trees for bees like our Halleria lucida in their place.
It is one of the strange contradictions of our world that whilst we are calling for the planting of more forests, we are simultaneously demanding that trees like Eucalypts should be felled.
Plant indigenous trees for bees which are beautiful and support threatened insects; and nectar-loving birds too.
The sunbirds in our garden have made their nest in a very high palm tree, seen at the immediate left next to the Halleria; in fact the nectar-rich blooms are probably just five metres below their hiding place.
Unfortunately the African harrier-hawk, or gymnogene as it is known, has discovered the nest and makes regular forays in the summer; he is not adverse to my chicks either.
That hawk also terrorises our hens but to date has not taken one; now that we are about to start breeding poultry, I know that it will attack the chicks. That is nature and they must feed to survive too.
There are always interesting birds arriving to feed on the fruit that is in season. Between them and the bees there is plenty of interesting wildlife to enjoy in a green garden.
This is a magnificent indigenous tree for bees that could and perhaps should be in almost every garden. You will never tire of it, or the creatures that come to visit.
The purplish fruit can be planted with considerable success, I believe.
Because our little pollinators are in such dire straits worldwide, it behooves us all to do our best to plant indigenous trees for bees to boost their food sources; other nectar and pollen-rich plants.
Either we all take responsibility for caring for the environment, or our children's offspring will have to live on a barren shore.
The bees also love the flowers on our citrus trees; and we enjoy the juice in our iced tea and on our salads. Lime nutrition is loaded with anti-tumour phytonutrients; and it tastes and smells divine.
Citrus helps reduce the inflammation of arthritis and the chances of early senility.
If you watch carefully, you'll see that the bees never fly from a lime tree to the Halleria lucida; they are very plant-specific and even put the nectar and pollen from different species in separate areas in the hive.
Nevertheless they are "generalist foragers" visiting many different plant species; same as we humans should be doing. Bees become very weak when kept on a field of monocultures.
Read more about Halleria lucida from Dr Boomslang. Google them if you live in the Pretoria area.
Another great favourite is the Spekboom in South Africa; it too is easy to grow.
The African dogwood tree in all honesty is grown by beekeepers for the bitterness it provides for our t'ej; in similar manner to hops. It is mainly for those who love to brew with honey. But its flowers are also loved by many insects and sunbirds for the nectar.
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