Trees For Bees – The Linden Tree

linden 1

Linden trees, also known as bee trees and basswood trees (and as lime trees in Europe), are large trees that grow in four-season climates all over the world. These trees can reach 80 feet in height and have a 40-foot spread.

The trees bloom in June and July and their yellow flowers are highly aromatic. They are extremely popular with honey bees (leading to the colloquial name of “bee-tree”), and you can buy basswood honey made almost exclusively from these trees.  Linden trees have the reputation of producing some of the best honey in the world. It has been described as “delicate and mild, and has warm herbal notes and a clean finish.”

Linden trees grow in plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. The coldest temperatures in zone 3 can reach 40 below zero and 12 below zero in zone 8. Besides temperature, soil conditions influence the success of linden trees. They like finer soils that drain well but hold enough water to support the tree.

Linden trees

Linden trees are successful when planted wherever there is excellent to good farming soils. They prefer slightly acidic soil but will tolerate pH levels as high as 7.5. Linden trees do not withstand drought for prolonged periods and are not found in the western states of the US.

The leaves are large measuring anywhere from 3″ to 6″ in both length and width. The linden tree provides much of its own food since the leaves do not lose their mineral content as they decay. Linden tree leaves are high in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, and potassium.

13 thoughts on “Trees For Bees – The Linden Tree

  1. The linden is one of my favorite trees. We had one on the parkway of our old house. Summer nights would find me standing under it, in the dark, gathering its fragrance about me. I truly miss it.

    The Morton Arboretum, near hear, harvest linden honey each year. I always try to get some.

  2. Karen says:

    One day I must do a post about the linden tree on our property as it is about five feet in diameter and is one of the oldest planted trees in the state.

  3. Love lindens and hope to plant one to replace our ash that will fall to the EAB.

  4. petit4chocolatier says:

    Beautiful!

  5. This is really useful, I’m sure I’d read somewhere that some limes are toxic to bees, but this suggests not

  6. […] For the front of the yard I am considering a coppice stand of Ash and Linden trees. Linden Trees are bee fodder and dynamic accumulators as described on Romancing the Bee’s site.   […]

  7. Beverly Simone says:

    Sadly, the old Black birch in my yard is on it’s way out, and I am researching which tree to replace it with. Thanks for the “Trees for Bees” article.
    I am deciding between a Linden and a Black Locust. I live in NY state, zone 6.

  8. Beverly Simone says:

    Thank you, Deborah. Tilia Americana it is!

  9. keith says:

    The article says Linden trees are not found in the western states of the US. I live in North Idaho, Pacific North West. There are tons of linden trees and sold at many nurseries.

    • Heather says:

      You’re so right. I live in Eastern Washington, and just planted a lovely little Linden a few months ago. They are definitely prevalent in this area and very easy to find. We also have a Honey Locust thats filling our whole yard with the pleasant sounds of buzzing 🙂 There have to be hundreds of bees that visit it at any given time. Its so beautiful!

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