Borage – Why Is It So Good For Bees?

borageIf we have to be honest, if bees disappear this will lead to disappearing of lots of fruits and vegetables, such as almonds, soy beans, apricots, melons, cherries, cucumbers, etc. The list is quite long and actually affects about a third of the fruits and vegetables on the planet. So why not help them out by planting some borage.

Bees are not the only pollinating plant creatures to whom we owe the beauty of nature. The main problem is that they are the main ones and their existence is now threatened. If we add the overall reduction of insects’ species and wild bees in particular due to urbanization, acid rain and other contamination’s, then these small creatures become absolutely necessary in order to make nature survive and help the food industry keep its current form.

Special Honey Plants

Special honey plants are characterized mainly by the beneficial effect they have for honey production. That is the reason why such plants are sown near the apiary. The sowing is taking place on a special areas intended exactly for this purpose, in order to give bees opportunity to use them in the best possible way. In addition, such crops are particularly needed in areas with poor and discontinuous collecting pollen. In these cases the main purpose of the special honey plants is to make them bloom at the intervals when there are no other blooming plants nearby the apiary and by this provide food for the development of the bees and for honey collection, too.

Borage – one of the most important honey plants

photo credit: Peter aka anemoneprojectors via photopin cc
photo credit: Peter aka anemoneprojectors via photopin cc
Borage is not only a honey plant, but also one of the most famous ancient spices and a valuable herb. It is traditionally cultivated as a vegetable type and spice, but it is also gwon for pharmaceutical purposes, because of the oil extracted from its seeds, which is often called “star flower oil” or “borage oil”.

If we can believe the descriptions of Dioscorides and Pliny the Elder, borage was probably the magical plant used to make a drink of oblivion mentioned in the Homer’s “Odyssey”. The truth is that this plant were used in different ways known from ancient times.

Borage – how is it grown?

Borage is an annual plant with branching stem that usually reaches a height of about 25 inches that is believed to originate from Syria. Now it is grown literally everywhere, and only in North America it takes an overall area of 20,000 acres.

Centuries ago, the Europeans used to make some tea form the leaves of the plant by soaking them in wine. In 1597 a herbalist named John Gerard pointed out several advantages of the herb and even said that the syrup made from the flowers of borage helps healing depression. Nowadays borage is being sown in order to attract bees, which makes it a valuable honey plant.

photo credit: Danny Perez Photography via photopin cc
photo credit: Danny Perez Photography via photopin cc
The plant is usually sown during early spring, and the harvest is carried out right before seeds’ maturation. At the beginning, borage blossoms are pink, and then they become blue. The plant has a long flowering period that is basically during the middle of the year, which makes it one of the bees’ most-loved plants during this period. The stems of borage are covered with dense pappus, and the blossoms are extremely beautiful, painted in violet-blue and gatheres in loose clusters. The leaves of the plant are thick and succulent and have a scent of cucumber.

Borage is not demanding when it comes to the soil, where it is planted. It is very well-grown in humus-rich, more loose soils, and also tolerates shading pretty well. The soils that are considered to be the best for growing borage are the ones fertilized with organic fertilizers.

Borage usually gives about 30 kg of honey per acre, and nectar excretion is benefited mostly by warm weather and moist soil. However, the benefits from borage are not only associated with beekeeping. Its blossoms are used for medical purposes, and it is also considered to be great grass for cattle.

Other uses for Borage

Apart from being used as one of the main honey plants in beekeeping, borage is also used in:


Its leaves and flowers have anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and tranquilizing effect. It is also used as a diuretic and has a beneficial effect for stomach, kidney and rheumatic pains.


The plant is used as an ingredient of many skin rejuvenating lotions and creams.

Organic farming

It is mainly used for soil fertilization.


Have you planted and Borage in your garden and do you find you get lots of bees on the flowers?

16 thoughts on “Borage – Why Is It So Good For Bees?

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    Paul says:

    Here’s another benefit of borage, for bees:

    A few years ago in the UK we had a long, wet summer. Older beekeepers pointed out that the continual rain washed the nectar out of mst blossoms, because they face upwards, so there was very little forage for pollinators. Borage is one of the few nectar-rich plants whose flowers hang down, and still feed bees etc in rainy weather.

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    theo says:

    Like your page on borage is it not the bee larvae superfood ?
    Look forward to your newsletter as we are here a bit isolated about 350 km from Sydney NSW
    Thanks for your service.


    • Avatar photo
      Peter says:

      Borage is not widely grown in the UK and when it is beekeepers can flock from all around to bring there bees due to the high yielding nectar of this interesting plant. It produces a honey that is straw coloured with a very light, virtually no flavour that does not granulated for a very long time. The only disadvantage to the Bee is that this rough hairy plant shortens the life of the worker Bee by slowly shredding her wings.

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        Gary Fawcett says:

        Thanks Peter for the message.

        Wow I have never heard that borage effects the wings of the bees. Is that a major issue with the bees in England?

        I guess our bees have lots of different sources of food, and wouldn’t only collect from Borage. So I can’t see this being a major issue.


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    Zelda Wynn says:

    Yes, bees love borage in my garden. It self seeds and pops up each year! As thanks the bees pollinate my beans 🙂

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    J. Kaufmann says:

    We bought Borage seeds on-line some years ago.
    Bees love it!
    Each year, we’ve harvested seeds & kept them in the freezer ’til time to sow them next spring.
    And we share them so they’ll be planted elsewhere.

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    Joel says:

    Interesting article. I was excited when I first discovered how well borage attracts bees and other pollinators. But then I learned about PAs, the liver-killing toxins in borage and certain other flowering plants. This was mentioned in an earlier post. Read for yourself from a 2016 article about “Pyrrolizidine Alkaloids [PAs] in Honey”:
    “PAs are also passed down the human food chain from various sources; certain herbal teas and honey contain large amounts of PAs. Long-term consumption of low levels of PAs in food can lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer.”

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    Dick Bevin says:

    Early January 2019 drove through Molesworth Station form Hanmer to Blenheim. Beautiful weather incredible landscape. Flowering Blue Borage everywhere and anywhere I stopped there were no bees. In the Awatere Valley there were collections of hives so presumably it was the borage the bees were feeding on.

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    Diddy says:

    Good day, was wondering about a large hedge like plant growing in a friends garden He calls it borage, does it grow to hedge size?

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      Margaret Groot says:

      Borage is a herb and is great for polinators and Honey Bees and Bumble Bees love it. From the plantings I have seen it does not grow into a large hedge and doubt that it would be suitable to be grown as a hedge. Usually grows to about around under 70cm (28″) and is a single plant, seasonally flowers. Best to identify the plant he has by using the leaves. Thanks. Regards, Margaret and Gary …it’s the kiwimana buzz….

  8. Avatar photo
    RAY says:


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