Mankind and comfrey probably go back almost as far as mankind and bees. This admittedly is an assumption since the first written word on comfrey only dates to Ancient Greece - some 2000 years before Christ, whereas African tribal symbioses with the honeybee are surely millennia old. But it is a logical assumption nonetheless; both comfrey and bees supply highly nutritious food and incredibly effective medicine. Mankind has not always been daft!

Gardeners have long recognised the importance of comfrey in the veg patch, and not just for its fertilizing properties. The beautifully slender bell-shaped flower of the mature comfrey plant holds another secret. Western Europe's most common honeybee species, the Italian Black and the Buckfast are unable to obtain the nectar from the flowers due to their rather diminutive proboscis, and may be observed buzzing around burgeoning flower stems looking longingly for a way in. And here's what they are looking for: small dark piercings at the bulbous base of the flowers. These are made by the larger species of bumblebee, like the southern cuckoo or the white-tailed, that are simply too fat to fit into the flower's opening and have to resort to biting through the base of the flower with their powerful mandibles to reach the honeydew. The honeybees have learnt that holes made by bumbles allow direct and easy access to the nectar for as long as the flower produces and exploit this knowledge to the full.

Comfrey attracts all sorts of pollinators

Comfrey in the garden attracts all sorts of pollinators and useful beasties. We have observed over 25 species of invertebrates in our comfrey plots, from ladybirds to bees, bumbles, butterflies and moths, shield bugs, predatory wasps, hoverflies, centipedes etc.. Plant Bocking 14 Comfrey and see for yourself.