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A Love Match: Bees and Salvias

Bees love salvias and vice versa. Salvias gain help with pollination from many kinds of bees, because sage flowers are rich in nectar and pollen.

Many gardeners keep honeybees to improve pollination. They support the health of honeybees and wild bees by growing lots of plants with high quality nectar and pollen, such as salvias.

Perhaps the most exciting link in this issue is the story about how certain daring honeybees, while grooming, kill dangerous varroa mites. The mites harm bee immunity while sucking blood and transferring viruses. NPR says that a varroa mite on a bee is roughly comparable to a bloodsucking "6-pound house cat attached to your side." Ouch! That's a clear visual.

Flowers by the Sea considers the needs of pollinators when selecting new plants for our online catalog. Some of our current offerings that attract bees include Alice's Sage (Salvia greggii alba x dorisiana), which is pictured here and was developed by John Fisher of Australia. We also recently added Grace Pink Autumn Sage (S. greggii 'Grace Pink') from North Carolina's J.C. Raulston Arboretum, Louie's Orange Delight Scarlet Sage (S. splendens van houttei 'Louie's Orange Delight') and the rugged Salvia companion California Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus 'Olga'). All are bee favorites.

Similar to other beekeepers, at this time of year, we are anxious to see how the residents of our hives have done over winter. Buzz is a beautiful, healthy sound in gardens, so that is why you'll be hearing a lot about pollinators on Salvia Guru.

But sometimes buzz comes from insects we consider a nuisance. In this issue, we introduce you to the delightful website Awkward Botany, which explains one of the few redeeming features of mosquitoes. Some species act as pollinators. Whereas their females get the rotten job of biting people to feed baby mosquitoes, the males have the politically correct role of gathering nectar and accidentally dropping off pollen from one plant to another.

One last matter that we must buzz about with some insistence is our appreciation for those who pass on information about our free subscriptions. You can also find us on Twitter @Salvia_Guru.

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