Planting Flowers That Attract Bees
Considering some new plants for the garden? Perhaps you may consider a few special flowers for bees. Bee friendly gardening is an easy way to help bees. In fact, you can help all pollinators by planting flowers that attract honey bees.
Is it time to think of some new ideas for your garden? Whether you have a large space or just a few pots, you can make a difference. In fact, you can make a big difference to hundreds of pollinators.
Choosing flowers that attract honey bees to your garden is a wise choice for any homeowner. It is a joy to watch bees feeding from a plot of wildflower.
This is a great way for non-beekeepers to help save the bees. And, we beekeepers like to plant with them in mind too!
You don’t have to be a Master Gardener to grow flowers that bees like. Adding just a few to your garden, lawn or stoop will make some bees very happy.
The best location to plant flowers that attract bees is well away from narrow sidewalks and play areas. Give the bees plenty of room to work.
The bees attracted to the flowers may feel threatened with foot traffic constantly going past.
Leave plenty of walking space. This reduces the chance of accidental stinging. Most bees do not want to sting you.
You are unlikely to experience a bee sting if you remain calm. Honey bees are not aggressive away from the hive. But, they will defend themselves.
As long as the foraging bees feel safe, you can safely observe them as they work.
Small Gardens Make Big Impacts
Don’t have a large bee garden or back yard? No problem. You do not have to have a large area.
Every drop of nectar counts – use the space that you have available to plant a few blooming flowers.
A vegetable garden can be of great benefit to bees but it does not have to be a large space. Most of us will provide a smaller amount of bee forage. That’s important too!
If you do have an idea for a large vegetable garden in your front yard – I say go for it! What’s wrong with that?
Ok, its not for everyone I understand. But I sometimes think we need to move away from manicured lawns and live in a more natural state.
Until then, lets find of way to sneak in a few pollen and nectar rich plants.
Providing a Diverse Bee Food Source
Honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinators benefit from a variety of nectar and pollen sources.
Each type of flowering plant that produces nectar or pollen contains different vitamins, minerals etc.
Healthy bees need diversity in food sources. This is why commercial hives used for pollination sometimes suffer poor health.
There may be plenty of food available but it is all the same. Our mono agriculture system plants large plots of one thing.
This limits the diversity of bee diet. Mix it up and choose bee friendly flowers of different kinds.
Choose a wide variety of flowers that attract bees or butterflies for different parts of your landscape.
If you have an area that is hard to mow or maintain, is it a great place for a mini meadow of wildflowers? Plant selection is not limited to small plants.
Do you have room for a small pond of water garden? These can provide a place for water loving plants for bees.
You do not need a lot of space to add a few perennials bees love to the garden. These plants return year after year – that’s a good investment.
Trees that produce nectar are a valuable bee forage solution. Of course, not everyone has room for trees but if you do, consider planting a couple of trees for the bees.
Container gardening can also make a good contribution to nectar and pollen supply. City dwellers provide a much needed food supply to urban honey bees.
Bees fly-so rooftop gardens must seem like the best buffet bar ever!
Popular Container Flowers for Bees:
- Bee Balm
Do Wild Flowers Attract Honey Bees?
You may wonder why you need to plant for bees? Don’t wild flowers and native plants attract bees and provide food and cover ?
Yes, they do. Unless you live in the city, you can likely look around and see many plants and flowers of all sizes.
One important consideration is that not all blooming flowers produce pollen or nectar. And many wild plants have a short bloom time.
This is the situation at my home. In April, I have so many blooming plants that the bees cant possibly keep up. But when hot, dry July arrives, I am in a nectar desert.
Flowers Provide Pollen to Attract Bees
It’s not just about nectar. Bees need a variety of pollen resources too. Pollen is an essential protein source for bees.
Early blooming daffodils are beautiful harbingers of Spring but produce no nectar and not a lot of pollen.
Remember that blooms don’t always mean food for bees, some varieties of plants have been bred to lack pollen!
Bees are at the mercy of the natural bloom cycle and environmental pressures.
In these situations, even a few flowers that attract bees to your garden can make a big difference.
Native Flowers That Attract Bees
In upstate South Carolina and many other parts of the country, there is a major blooming season.
This is a season of plenty when the bees have an abundant supply of nectar producing flowers.
Native Flowers that Feed Bees:
- Blackberry Bushes
- Ground Ivy
- Red Bud Trees
I could have 200 beehives on site during this heavy flow. But there are some times of the year when the site might not feed more than 20 hives.
The takeaway point is that most flowering bee plants do not bloom all summer long.
Planting flowers that attract bees may help small colonies in peril through a time of need.
Also, if we provide nectar producing flowers that bloom throughout the summer this is better than having all of them bloom at once.
It avoids the bee colonies having to deal with “feast or famine”.
Sedums are an ornamental easy to care for plant. They are drought tolerant and thrive on neglect.
Autumn Joy sedum offers a food source when other plants have dried up due to lack of rain.
Pollen Producing Flowers to Attract Bees
Avoid plants that have highly hybridized. These plants are developed to look beautiful and not produce seed. (Some homeowners dislike messy seed pods).
While this may look great in your garden, these plants produce much less to no pollen. Include some pollen producing plants too.
Pollen Producing Plants:
- Red Maple
- Grey Alder
Where to Purchase Bee Friendly Plants
Your local garden center is a great place to begin your search when planting flowers that attract bees.
Even if there selection is small, they will be familiar with growing conditions in your area. Another great resource is online ordering with its great variety.