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Materia Poetica

(Sung to the tune of, “You Are My Sunshine.”)

You’re known as Bee Balm, and Wild Bergamot.
You make bees happy, when in full bloom.
You’re a fast grower, and will take over
Just like mint, you need lots of room.

Monarda fistulosa is native to the US
But named in honor of a botanist in Spain.
The Native Americans, used you quite often
for snake bites, cuts, colds, coughs, and headache pain.

Mi Feng Chung Gao warms the Lungs and Stomach.
It moves Liver Qi and supports healing wounds.
Strong citrus blooms make great teas and jellies
And other things you’ll want to consume.

My Shamanic Life podcast logo
Episode 129

My Shamanic Life Podcast

Hosted by Debbie Philp

After our crazy weekend at 🧚 Fairy Fest, my friend Sheri Kurdakul, a student of clinical herbalism, is back for another episode. Sheri shares about bee balm, a plant I thought was just for 🐝 pollinators, but it turns out there are many benefits of growing and using bee balm, especially when the pressure to manifest is on. I talk a bit about staying calm and centered, or at least appearing too, even amid chaos. Give us a listen! 👂

Monarda fistulosa

Bee Balm | Wild Bergamot

This little gem of a flower is a favorite pollinator for not only bees, but moths, butterflies, and hummingbirds too!

Monarda fistulosa, also commonly known as Bee Balm or Wild Bergamot, are showy pink to lavender wildflowers that will spread in your garden (it’s part of the same mint family Lamiaceae). There is also a crimson red species (M. didyma) that is similar in its medicinal and pollinating characteristics. They bloom from June through September, depending on the heat and your area, and are usually filled with bees! 🐝

These are not perfect petal flowers, but are rather scraggly looking. They are herbaceous and have branched, hairy stems, and compact flower clusters that spread by seeds and rhizomes. Each cluster is solitary at the ends, with a head about 1.5 inches high, and contains about 20–50 flowers coming off the head.


  • The Oneida tribe call it “Number Six”, in honor of it being “the sixth medicine given by the Creator.”
  • Bee Balm is considered a diaphoretic (sweat inducer) and was used traditionally to induce a sweat during Native American sweat lodge ceremonies.
Bee balm with a bee on it

Digestive Support

A warm cup of fragrant Bee Balm tea might be just the thing to support healthy digestion. Here’s a recipe you can try for yourself.
Note: If you use fresh flower petals, double the amount from what you would use as a dried flower.


  • 1 TBSP dried flower petals
  • 1 cup hot water


  • Bring the water just below the boiling point, as flower petals are sensitive to high heat
  • Add the Bee Balm flower petals in a tea ball or bag
  • Pour the hot water over the ball/bag and steep covered for at least 15 minutes
  • Enjoy!
Cup of bee balm tea

Harvesting and Drying

When harvesting the aerial parts (leaves and flowers), be mindful that you are not the only one in need. Many sentient beings call this plant their dinner buffet. 🐝

Harvest when the plant is in full bloom. Avoid young shoots to ensure the plant can sustain itself. Avoid picking all the plants from one cluster or one spot – pick a few and move on to another location in the space.

Clip the plant at the base of the stem, then gather them together and tie them in small bunches (to ensure good air circulation) and hang to dry.

If you have patience and time on your hands, you can alternatively pick the leaves and the individual flower petals from the stem, then spread them out on a clean, dry towel away from sunlight, dust, and pet hair. 

Drying can take 1-2 weeks depending on your humidity.

Native Ecology

Bee Balm is like an all-you-can-eat buffet for many pollinating species. I know many homeowners struggle with finding plants that are pretty and will survive hungry deer, so Bee Balm is your friend, as it is reliably deer and rabbit resistant!

Pollinators, such as butterflies and bees, enjoy the flowers’ nectar. It is especially attractive to hummingbirds and provides a healthier alternative to the red-died sugar water. 

Herbal Actions & Medicinal Uses

Below is some basic herbal information based on Western Herbalism and Chinese Medicine (TCM). Bee Balm should not be taken if you are pregnant. 

With any herbs and supplements, always consult with a licensed health professional before use.

Parts Most Frequently Used: Aerial parts (leaves & flowers)

Flavors: Warming

Herbal Actions

Primary Organs: Kidney, Liver, Spleen, Reproductive Organs

TCM Actions:

  • Warms the Lungs
  • Warms & Supports the Stomach
  • Moves Liver Qi

Western Actions:

  • Antiseptic
  • Bitter Tonic
  • Carminative
  • Diaphoretic
  • Emmenagogue
Bee Balm in the garden

Horticultural Information

Bee Balm / Wild Bergamot is a native North American species.

This is a sun/part shade loving plant who can tolerate heat and drought. Don’t over water. This is another plant that hates “soggy feet.” Bee Balm is prone to powdery mildew, so make sure your soil is well-drained. 

Once the plant blooms, cut the stems to the ground to promote new growth the following year. You will need to divide the plants’ rhizomes every three years to prevent overcrowding – a perfect way to share your garden love. 💚

USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 4-10

USDA Hardiness Zone Map

Materia Magicka

All plants are sacred so please treat them as such. Bee Balm/Wild Bergamot is most commonly used in work involving attraction.

It is used in work around the attraction of money and prosperity, as well as protection from evil and illness, improving memory, stopping interference, and promoting restful sleep. Burn at any ritual to increase its power.

  • You may use it in love spells or rituals to attract love, strengthen relationships, and enhance passion and romance.
  • You can work it into rituals or spells focused on attracting prosperity, abundance, and success in various aspects of life, including finances and career. In money attraction or luck spells, you can make loose incense with Bergamot and other wealth-drawing herbs.
  • Because of its purifying properties, it can be used in protective spells or rituals to create a shield against negative energies, hexes, or harmful influences.

Below is some of the symbolism associated with Bee Balm/Wild Bergamot.

Planets: Constellations:
  Venus   ♎︎ Libra
  ♊︎ Gemini
Element: Chakra:
  🜁 Air   Solar Plexus Chakra
Solar plexus chakra