Choosing the Best Bushes for Bees
When selecting new plants for your yard, it is a good time to give bee friendly gardening some thought. Even small areas can become a bee oasis when the right variety of plants are chosen. Shrubs can provide large amounts of food to hungry bees. In designing your outdoor living space, consider planting bushes for bees.
There are many bushes or shrubs that provide food and shelter for insects. Many of them near your home grow wild with no human care.
Take note of them as you notice them in bloom. What types of bees or pollinators do you see? Perhaps you can add more of them in your space.
Why Plant Bushes that Bees Like?
If you are not a beekeeper, you may wonder why you should consider planting bushes for bees?
Well, other than the fact that is it a nice thing to do – honey bees are not the only insects that benefit from bushes or shrubs.
Several varieties of birds enjoy nesting in tall bushes. Many insects -beyond bees -feed on nectar rich blossoms.
A large bush can provide a lot of food for hungry insects. Some plants provide both types of food and some will only provide either nectar or pollen.
Bees need pollen to raise young bees. They collect pollen from blooming plants of all types. Nectar is used to feed bees and to store as honey.
Wildlife habitat is also important. Large shrubs provide cover for all types of birds, bugs and small animals.
In addition, they can be a natural living privacy fence for your backyard.
Black Berries and Raspberries
Berry bushes are available in wild and cultivated varieties. They are relatively easy to grow and adapt to most locations.
In addition to providing food for pollinators, this type of shrub provides edible fruit. They do not require a lot of space. Some can even be grown in containers.
If thorns are a concern for you, thornless varieites are available. These do tend to grow rather tall and need a fence or backdrop to lean on. Give this variety a try – See on Amazon.
Honey bees are attracted to the blooms, as well as, other types of bees. The hollow or pithy stems provide nesting sites for some species of caterpillars
Oregon Grape (Mahonia)
A slow growing holly-like shrub, Oregon Grape is evergreen. This plant makes an impressive barrier to unwanted visitors. It retains tough spikey leaves year-round.
A popular shrub in landscaping, both native and cultivated types are available. The wild type is often used in reforestation projects.
Oregon Grape produces a blue fruit in late Summer that is enjoyed by various types of wildlife.
But, it is the bloom that makes it one of the best bushes for bees.
In late Winter, the shrub comes alive with bright yellow bell shaped flowers.
It is a very showy display and gives off a sweet fragrance. My honey bees, flock to the blooms to collect much needed food.
Willows can be a very important source of early Spring food for bees and other pollinators. They are often one of the earliest food sources.
Male and female blooms appear on different plants. Both types of bloom produce nectar that is valued by pollinators.
However, only male willow blooms produce pollen. Planting them in a thicket or as a windbreak in groups provides food and shelter for many insects.
There are many varieties of willows to consider. All types are easy to grow and propagate by cuttings.
The native Pussy Willows (Salix discolor) are some of the best bushes for bees. The fancy hybrids such as weeping willows are of little value to pollinators.
Plum or Cherry Shrubs
The homeowner can choose from many types of bee friendly shrubs in the “Prunus” Genus. Dwarf Plum and Cherry bushes are popular in home gardens.
Many are ornamental and are not grown for their fruit. They do still produce nectar or pollen that is collected and used by bees.
A hardy large shrub or small tree, they can be grown in most regions. They may a beautiful addition to any bee garden.
However, it is important to note that many of the plants in this genus are toxic to livestock.
They are not suitable for planting near grazing animals such as: cows, horses or goats.
Blueberry Shrubs for Bees
Blueberries are another bush that attracts bees. One of the best bee friendly shrubs, the blueberry has a lot to offer.
In addition to providing food for pollinators, and edible fruit for humans, blueberry bushes are also ornamental.
These shrubs come alive with color in the Fall. This makes them a perfect choice for a small backyard garden. Potted blueberries are a nice addition.
Adaptable to pruning, blue berries do need acidic soil. Once established, they require very little maintenance.
Honey bees are used to pollinate blueberry blossoms. In fact, commercial beekeepers provide thousands of colonies for blueberry pollination.
However, the short tongued honey bee is not as good at blueberry pollination as the larger Bumble Bee.
There you go, a list of some of the most popular and easy to grow bushes for bees and other pollinators. Consider including a couple in your next gardening project.
Providing a variety of food sources is a great way to help save bees.