The Best Mast-Producing Trees and Shrubs for Beekeepers
Honeybees are an introduced species in North America, so unlike some non-native mast-producing trees and shrubs, native mast-producing trees and shrubs do not rely on honeybees for pollination. However, the activity of honeybees and other pollinators can increase the yield of many native trees and shrubs.
Mast-producing trees and shrubs offer only seasonal – usually spring – blooms, so they do not provide an adequate year-round source of food to sustain a hive of honeybees, but they are an excellent supplemental source of nectar and pollen and several species provide important early season nectar and pollen sources for bees.
Mast-producing trees and shrubs can also be planted near hives to provide windbreaks and protection from inclement weather.
The best native mast-producing trees and shrubs for bees include:
- blackberries and raspberries
- wild roses
- wild cherries and plums
- mountain ashes
Many naturalized Eurasian relatives of native mast-producing trees and shrubs are also excellent sources of nectar for honeybees, including Eurasian flowering cherries, apples, plums, pears, and more. For a month-by-month list of mast and non-mast producing trees that provide important nectar sources for honeybees, check out this article.
Curiously, honeybees generally do not frequent native dogwoods, although they can be an important food source for native bees. Wood-dwelling native bee species such as carpenter bees sometimes make their homes in mast-producing trees and shrub.