Why You Should Plant Flowers for Bees
Many gardeners delight in finding the very best flowers for bees to include in their gardens. Finding great plant ideas is one of the easiest parts of building a bee friendly garden. However, deciding which ones to get can be a bit more difficult because of the wide selection.
My motto is “if I have to dig a hole to plant something – it better feed my bees!” Thankfully, many other people want to help feed bees and other pollinators too!
Seed shopping is a fun part of planning a garden full of flowers for honey bees. Many bee friendly flowers are easy to start from seed and quite inexpensive.
One easy way to increase the variety of flowers in an area is to make seed bombs with air dry clay. They may great gifts or event favors too!
How Flowers Help Bees
Honey bees are not the only ones that benefit from blooming plants. Bumble Bees, Wasps, Butterflies, Moths, Hummingbirds and many other pollinators visit the garden.
Many insects use nectar for food. Honey bees gather nectar and make it into honey. Stored honey allows the colony to live through out the cold Winter season.
But some flower also provide pollen that is collected by insects. Pollen is protein. Without sufficient pollen, no new baby bees can be raised.
Do Flowers Need Bees?
Not all plants need bees . Some are pollinated by the wind. Other plants require insects for good pollination.
While the bees are sucking up nectar, their fuzzy bodies collect pollen and move it from bloom to bloom. The result is pollination and the plant is now able to produce seed or fruit.
Which Flowers do Bees Like Best?
Honey bees will forage on any nectar or pollen producing plants. But yes, they do have color preferences.
Honey bees find flowers that are blue, purple and yellow most appealing.
Choosing seed varieties of flowers for bees does not have to be difficult. You can purchase a meadow mix. Providing a variety of different kinds of flowers is good for the honey bee diet.
Flowers You Can Plant for Bees
It is not necessary to have a large space to help feed bees. Every blooming flower that produces nectar or pollen counts.
Do all blooming plants feed honey bees? No, they do not. Not every blossom feeds bees, it may not provide nectar or pollen.
Today, many new plant varieties are developed for a showy display. These hybridized plants have double flowers with massive blooms and many petals.
But fancy blooms are not the best plants for bees, butterflies etc. Take the time to walk past the new hybrids and look at some of the older more simple flowers.
Some of the best flowers for bees have single flowers. This is because the single flower plant invests more energy in nectar production and less in petal formation.
Be sure to plant some perennials perennials for your bees. Returning the next year from root systems or tubers in the ground, they can live for years.
They pack a lot of “umph” for the bee garden because you only have to plant them once!
Do you have a problem area that may get very dry during parts of the year? These spots are a great candidates for drought tolerant plants for bees.
As you are planning your flower choices, remember to consider the whole season. Fewer natural sources are available in later Summer.
Your garden can become a great food source for pollinators all season long. Include some Fall flowers that bees like in your garden design.
Flowering Trees Feed Bees
Don’t forget that flowering trees feed bees too. Most trees can be planted in late Summer or early Spring.
Blooming trees can provide large amounts of nectar in one season. Find one that grows well in your climate.
You may already have some native trees that provide food for bees. One of my favorites is the Tulip Poplar Tree.
Another tree that is native to my area is the Red Maple. Red Maples bloom very early in the year and are important for colony buildup.
When to Plant Flowers for Bees
The best time to plant flowers that attract bees will depend on several factors. Will you be starting from seed or buying plants already started?
Consider your climate and chose plants that will do well. Choose a variety of flowers long bloom cycles.
Who Can Help Grow Flowers for Bees?
Almost everyone! You don’t have to live in an area with wide-open spaces to plant flowers.
Suburban gardeners and city municipalities often create plantings to benefit bees. These gardens help control run-off water, add beauty to the area and feed bees.
If you have a problem area in your yard, creating a rain garden can provide food for area bees.
Roof gardens can provide much needed flowers for bees in a city environment. And a few pots on a windowsill helps a hungry bee find food.
Many State Highway Departments have programs to plant strips of wildflowers that add food, shelter and beauty to the landscape.
Wildflowers Provide Food for Bees Too
Of course, honey bee colonies have been providing for themselves for thousands of years. It is not only human provided plants that supply their need.
Take the native flora into account. Do you have native nectar producing plants blooming in May and June?
If so don’t try to compete, choose flowers that honey bees like with bloom times in July – September.
In this way, you are supplementing the natural food sources. Of course, this applies to all pollinators not just honey bees.
Bee loves weeds too! Before you decide to spray weed killer, consider leaving them for a few weeks. And always choose the least harmful spray to use.
Favorite Flowers For Honey Bees
Aren’t you tired of all that grass? Leave some natural areas for the bees when you can. If you have enough space (or even a few pots), create a bee friendly garden.
A mix of annual and perennial flowers is good. Chose flowers that you love and flowers that honey bees and other pollinators can enjoy.
Some varieties of sunflowers are good for bees. The enormous flowers we see are actually made up of hundreds of tiny flowers. Honey bees enjoy foraging on the individual flower segments.
Rudbeckia Goldstrum is a variety of cone flower that boasts a bright yellow display.
This is one of the flowers that honey bees love that can be grown in a large mass. In the fall, birds will feast on the seeds.
Rudbeckia Goldstrum can be a perennial in some areas. I have several areas that reseed each year but I would not term mine as aggressive.
Native to the United States, Horsemint (Monarda punctate) is a long blooming perennial. This sun loving plant is a beneficial flower to plant for bees.
It is a favorite of other pollinators as well. Mint has been known to have a mind of its own. Plant it in a pot or corral it in.
Final Thoughts on Flowers for Honey Bees
Providing food resources for bees is very easy to do. Choose plants that are suitable to your location.
Plant a variety of different flowers that bloom at different times. All of the pollinators in your area will benefit from your bee garden.