Bee on Sunflower

Sue Adams Interviews Her Pollinator Friends

June 30, 2022
Sue Adams

   “Natives, Nativars, Hybrids – We don’t care!
         If the flowers have nectar, we’re there!”

 – Sue’s friends, the hummingbird, butterfly & bee


Sue: I’ve heard your favorite color flower is red.

Hummingbird: I love bright colored flowers, and yes, I love red. But I’ll visit orange, pink, yellow, and even blue flowers if there’s nectar to be found. I burn a lot of calories, so I look for flowers with concentrated nectar. By the way, I loved your collection of cupheas this spring. I surprised Mark in the greenhouse when I found the cuphea “Vermillionaire” there.


Sue: How do you know which flowers have the most nectar?

Hummingbird: Long tubular flowers have lots of nectar, and most other pollinators can’t access them. But I won’t burn extra calories by going far away to find those tubular flowers and will settle for suitable sources nearby, like saliva and cuphea.


Sue: I know that bees feed on both nectar and pollen, nectar for energy and pollen to provide protein and other nutrients. What are bees’ flower preferences?

Queen Bee: As you know, there are many species of bees. Flower preference depends on the bee’s tongue. Long tongued bees can access nectar in tubular-shaped blossoms, while short tongued bees like daisy type blooms, and small bees like florets. Bumblebees and carpenter bees like larger flowers. Honey bees’ tongues are mid-sized, and some of the favorites of my worker bees are sunflowers and catmint and the invasive porcelain vine near your house. They don’t like double flowers because the pollen is hard to reach.


Sue: Nectar is a butterfly’s flight fuel. What types of flowers do you like?

Butterfly: I like flat, brightly colored flowers like those zinnias in your garden. They provide a landing pad and ample nectar. I see that you have all of my favorite colors – red, yellow and orange!


Sue: I’m trying a new rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan) for 2023 that’s supposed to be better than Goldsturm, called GoldBlitz. I think you might like it.

Butterfly: I love trying new flowers! Rudbeckia has been around so long, folks think it’s a Hudson Valley native, but it’s not.


Sue: Speaking of new flowers, for 2023, there are some great new salvias, perfect for the beginner gardener, easy to grow and wonderful new colors. Good for them, and great for you.

Hummingbird, Butterfly, Bee: Thank you, Sue!

Sue: No, thank you! We can’t live without our pollinators.

CLICK HERE to see our list of pollinator-friendly plants.