Make tea or garnish and enhance the flavor of fruit salads with bee balm leaves and flowers.
- For tea: Place a tablespoon of fresh or one teaspoon of dried bee balm leaves and/or flowers in a tea strainer and pour one cup of boiling water over it. Allow it to steep for ten minutes. Remove tea strainer. Sweeten as you like.
- For salads: Chop the leaves and flowers finely and add to fruit salads for extra flavor.
I found bee balm (also known as bergamot) in a garden nursery in a section of plants labeled “adored by bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.” I liked the color, and bees and butterflies are most attracted to blue and purple flowers.
Since we are in an ongoing honey bee crisis – colonies are collapsing for a variety of reasons (e.g., pesticides, parasites, mites, etc.) – it is wise to grow plants that help bee populations.
The next time you are in the produce section of the grocery store, consider this: agricultural crops worldwide are pollinated by bees. Often bees are shipped into areas to pollinate crops. If we don’t take an interest in what is happening to bees, we may soon see empty produce bins and shelves. You must also consider all the plant life that sustains the animals we eat as well (e.g., cows, sheep, pigs). Bees are essential to our survival!
If you’re a gardener, you should add this perennial to a sunny space in your yard. If you live in a hot climate like I do, this plant is ideal. The only negative characteristic of bee balm is that it is a spreader like mint, so you’ll have to periodically extract portions from the growing area or it will overtake everything.