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Do bees like salvia?

Salvia attracts bees

Salvia or Sage is a plant that is widely used in traditional and folk medicine, cosmetology and cooking. It is also an excellent honey plant that produces odorous nectar from which sage honey is made. Salvia (Sage) is a perennial plant of the Lamiaceae family. It grows in almost all parts of the world. There are more than 900 species worldwide. Thanks to its properties, Salvia (Sage) attracts bees and other pollinators.

Salvia (Sage) in history

Along with other aromatic herbs – ruta, rosemary, fennel – sage has been an indispensable element of the pharmacist’s garden since classical antiquity. It is mentioned by the ancient naturalists Theophrastus and Dioscorides.

But the cultural history of the plant is even older. Its first descriptions are found in ancient Egyptian papyrus, where sage was recommended as a remedy for itching. It was also used to treat digestive disorders and toothache, and the leaves were used to whiten teeth.

Hippocratic medicine noted the binding and strengthening properties of sage. It is no coincidence that its Latin name Salvia meant “to be well” (from the same root is formed the Roman greeting salve). Dioscorides’ advice to drink wine infusion of sage for excessive phlegm survived until the Renaissance.

Gobelin "Unicorn Hunt" (fragment). Flanders, 1495-1505 Sage is depicted with blue flowers to the right of the source.
Gobelin “Unicorn Hunt” (fragment). Flanders, 1495-1505
Sage is depicted with blue flowers to the right of the source.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sage as a honey plant

Sage is often found in dry meadows, along roadsides. It grows on poor soils and slopes. But even in dry summers, sage blooms for a long time and produces a lot of nectar. Each species of sage is a good honey plant that bees love to visit so much.

Sage is a plant that with its blossoms pleases almost the entire summer season. So Salvia officinalis blooms in June or early July, and the flowering period lasts for 30-35 days.

Honey productivity of sage

Honey productivity of sage depends on the type:

– Salvia verticillata gives pollen well and on average up to 250-300 kg. of honey from one hectare;

– Salvia pratensis, despite the long flowering, taking all summer, provides up to 100 kg. honey from one hectare;

– Salvia officinalis gives 120-130 kg. of honey;

– Salvia sclarea is a real honey record holder. It yields up to 400 kg. per hectare.

Popular salvia (sage) species

There are about 900 varieties of sage. Many varieties are very similar to each other, differing only in the color of the inflorescences and the composition of useful substances. Five species of sage are of particular value to bees.

Salvia officinalis. Herb up to 70 centimeters high, with a four-edged branched stem and heart-shaped leaves of silvery-white color. Loose spikelets of large violet-colored flowers are formed in the leaf axils. The leaves and inflorescences of Salvia officinalis have healing properties.

Salvia officinalis
Salvia officinalis.

Salvia pratensis. A wild representative of the genus, which can be found in meadows and along dry roads. A plant with an erect stem, at the top of which are collected in florets. In color, the corollas can be pink, white or blue. Salvia pratensis produces a large amount of nectar.

Salvia pratensis
Salvia pratensis.

Salvia verticillata. A perennial plant that grows as a weed in the plains of the European part. The stem is up to 80 cm tall and covered with characteristic hairs, crowned with inflorescences of reddish-lilac color. Salvia verticillata tolerates drought well, even intense nectar production is observed in hot weather.

Salvia verticillata
Salvia verticillata.

Salvia sclarea. A variety of sage cultivated as an essential oil herb. However, this species is also found in the wild, for example, in weedy areas. The plant is quite tall, up to 120 cm in height, the stem is branched, strongly downy. Inflorescences of large delicate pink flowers are formed on the tops.

Salvia sclarea
Salvia sclarea.

Growing peculiarities

Sage is a drought tolerant plant, but is afraid of frost, often dying during cold snowless winters. When growing, it is worth considering that sage likes well-lit areas and fertile soils with a normal level of acidity.

Sage can grow in one place for up to 8 years, it grows well from seed, so the seedling method is not used here. Despite the fact that the plant is drought-resistant moisture is necessary for lush blooms. But watering is moderate, excessive water can have a detrimental effect on the plant.

In spring, sage can be fed with fertilizers containing nitrogen, and in autumn with compositions of phosphorus and potassium. Also in the second year after planting, pruning is carried out, so that renewal takes place.


Sage attracts bees and has an excellent honey production. It is also used in cooking and cosmetology. It can be used in landscaping to decorate garden paths and gardens. Also very good honey made from sage.

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