In late September/October, almost all flowers have finished, but the bees can still find nectar and pollen on ivy (Hedera helix). Ivy nectar is high in quality, and high in sugars (49 per cent). The honey produced crystallises quickly in the comb but is normally not harvested, rather it is left to add to the bees’ winter stores. Having access to the nectar and pollen that ivy provides late in the season improves the chances of successful over-wintering for the colony.
Fortunately for our bees, ivy is a common plant in the UK. The flowers are easily overlooked, they are small and green with tiny petals, but the bees and other insects love them as they produce lots of nectar and pollen.
Ivy is generally considered a pest and is often removed due to the damage it is believed to cause to buildings and trees. Recent research shows that ivy rarely harms the trees it climbs and it has recently been appreciated for the extra insulation it provides to buildings. It also has the ability to reduce pollution in urban areas. Perhaps we should cultivate a more tolerant attitude to ivy?