Bee Balm … my backyard pharmacopeia

Bee Balm at riotthill I planted bee balm in a small garden along the path with the hopes of attracting bees. Guess that’s why it’s called bee balm, although its proper name is Monarda fistulosa, which  of course, I’ll probably never remember. Bee balm has a lot of alias’, among them … Eastern Beebalm, Bergamot, Wild Oswego Tea, Horsemint, Monarda … how’s that for identity switching?

As you can see in the picture at right, bees are drawn to this vibrantly coloured flower. I spent about half an hour snapping pictures, and at any one time there were always two to three bees humming about, flitting from one flower to the next collecting pollen and nectar and generally ‘bee-ing’ busy.

What I didn’t know until I had a cruise through the internet, is that bee balm is an herb used for ages by native Eastern North Americans. You can eat any part of the plant that pokes above ground, for instance harvesting the stems and leaves for teas, or the blossoms for a cheery additive to a salad. Haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t comment on the flavour. Bee Balm at riotthill

More amazingly, it has been used as traditional medicines. It helps sooth headaches, upset stomachs, sore throats and colds. Well worth doing some further research if you are interested.

And if that isn’t enough, bee balm can be dried and added to a potpourri — how’s that for prolonging the summer season well through those dark winter months when the house is closed up and the bees are just a hazy memory.

Have a look at for more.