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How to Make a Container Garden for Bees

A beautiful garden of flowers provides food for many types of pollinators. Of course, bees benefit but not just honey bees. Other pollinators such as: solitary bees, butterflies, moths and more will visit your blooming paradise. Not everyone has good soil for an outside garden. No worries. You can still help feed hungry bees. Learn how to make a container garden for bees.

Colorful garden of flowers for bees in containers image.

Container Gardening as a Bee Garden

There are many benefits of creating a pollinator friendly container garden. In addition to the foraging opportunities for beneficial insects, you can have a place of simple beauty to enjoy sitting outside.

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Can you share this space with stinging insects? Sure you can. Busy bees rarely sting if unprovoked. Give them plenty of space and do not disturb their activity. Unless a bees nest is close by, they do not mind your company.

Choosing Pots for Your Garden

Do you already have suitable pots or containers on hand? If so, you may simply need to ensure you have the best plants for bees. Any number of pots is fine. The more you have the more bloom opportunity you have to decorate your space.

Larger pots are more expensive but they offer so much variety that they are worth the price tag. In a large container, you can create a mini bee friendly garden with several nectar rich flowers in each one.

If your chosen pots do not have drainage holes, add some. Unless you are growing bog plants, the soil must drain well or you risk disease or plant death.

Potted flower containers for bee garden image.

Planting the Containers

Choose good quality potting soil for your container garden. This is not always easy to do as some of the products labeled as “soil” at the local garden centers are a joke.

Look for a good mid-level quality mix. The cheapest soil mixes are often not suitable for use as a growing medium alone.

Newspaper can be used to line the bottom of the pot to prevent soil loss through drainage holes. The addition of several layers of gravel or similar material in the bottom aids in drainage.

This prevents soggy soil and diseased plants. In single containers, fill with potting soil up to within 6 inches of the top.

Stacked Planters Add Interest

If you have the space, stacked whisky barrels (or similar pots) can create a very interesting display. You need 2 half barrels – one large and one smaller.

Place a pot (upside down) in the larger barrel. The bottom of the pot should be about 12 inches shorter than top of the large container.

Add some type of medium in the large barrel around the inverted pot. This can be gravel or cut up pool noodles to aid in drainage and reduce soil needed. Set the smaller whisky barrel on top of the inverted pot.

Now you have a 2-tier garden to plant as you wish. You can even buy a set of 3 for a 3 tier garden.

Bees do love sun. Place your containers in full sun when possible and use flowers suitable for that environment. At least half a day of sun with some shade in the afternoon works well in most situations.

Flowers for bees in a half whiskey barrel container image.

Choosing Plants for Your Bee Garden

How do you choose the best plants for your bee garden pots? Not every one is suitable for growing in containers but don’t worry.

There are thousands of blooming flowers to consider. Try to include a variety of nectar and pollen rich flowers. Not all blooming plants produce nectar or pollen!

Select flowers that are known to attract bees by providing the food that they need. As you progress in plant selection, consider your climate conditions.

A major advantage of container gardens is their portability. And, as you are providing the soil mixture – you have a bit more leniency growing conditions.

However, whether choosing annual flowers for bees or perennials. Growing conditions play a large role in the health and beauty of your garden.

Insect foragers collect food from any available source but they do have preferences. Bees tend to like flowers that are blue, purple, yellow and white. While butterflies are more attracted to red, yellow, orange and pink blooms.

Flower shape matters too. Long vase shaped flowers good for are good for butterflies and hummingbirds. If you have humming bird feeders nearby, use some strategies to keep the bees away from the feeders.

However, honey bees have short tongues. Bees like flowers that are simple in shape. It is easier to gather nectar from them.

If you love to watch pollinators at night. White blooms that smell sweet are loved by night pollinators such as bats and moths.

Flowers Bees Love that do Well in Containers

  • Agastache
  • Blanket Flower
  • Borage
  • Coneflowers
  • Gerbera
  • Lantana
  • Lavender
  • Red Hot Poker
  • Salvia
  • Sedum
  • Sunflowers (small varieties)
  • Thyme
  • Verbena
  • Zinnia

With the wide variety of shapes, designs and colors in pots and plants, making a container garden for bees is an easy task. The hardest part is decided when ones to pick. Another great idea is think about a water source for bees nearby. Bees need water too.

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