Considering some new plants for the garden? Part of the delight of bee friendly gardening is deciding what to plant. In most locations, it is very to easy to add a few special plants that provide flowers for bees. This is an easy way to help all pollinators. Flowers that attract bees will also feed butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and other insects.
Planting Flowers That Attract 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.
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Choosing flowers that attract honey bees to your garden is a wise choice for any homeowner. It is a joy to watch bees gathering pollen and nectar.
And, if you have a vegetable garden or home orchard, you will enjoy increased crop yield due to pollination.
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.
Wild Flowers That 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.
Honey bees see flowers and plants differently that humans. Their special sight abilities and olfactory cues help them find useful plants.
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.
Think seasonally, create a bloom window that lasts all season. Include some plants that produce Fall flowers for bees too!
Attract Bees to Small Garden Areas
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. 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.
List of Container Flowers Bees Find Attractive
- Bee Balm
- Red Hot Pokers
- Small Sunflower Varieties
- Blueberries (container varieties)
Don’t despair if you only have room for a few potted plants. Gardening in pots is a great way to make use of bee friendly flowers.
Research the ways container gardening can make a good contribution to nectar and pollen supply. This is an easy way for city dwellers to provide a much needed food supply to urban honey bees. Bees fly-so rooftop gardens must seem like the best buffet bar ever!
Help Bees By Providing a Diverse 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. Mix it up and choose bee friendly flowers of different kinds.
Think outside the box – or pot – and do some creative bee garden design. Create a groups of flowering plants in different locations in your backyard.
Make your own flower seed balls with the kids and have fun placing them around the area. These will create new and diverse plants for bees.
Choose a wide variety of flowers that attract bees or butterflies for different parts of your landscape – create a rain garden in high wash areas.
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.
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.
Daffodils are not really great plants to attract 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.
Consider Native Flowers In Your Region
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.
This nectar is necessary for the bees to make honey for later use. If you are a beekeeper, it is important to learn about the seasonal bloom in your region. Don’t try to compete – plant flowers that will attract honey bees during the rest of the season.
Native Flowers that Feed Bees:
- Blackberry Bushes
- Red Bud Trees
- Tulip Poplar
- Bee Balm
- Common Choke Cherry
- Oregon Grape
- Blue Columbine
- Common Yarrow
- Dotted Blazing Star- Liatris
These are some of the most common honey plants in my region but yours may be different. Also check the climate and soil requirements for any plants who want to include in your bee gardens.
And don’t try to compete with nature. Plant flowers that feed bees during the times of the year when the natural bloom is not abundant.
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”.
Flowers that Provide Pollen for Bees
Avoid plants that have been highly hybridized. These are the extra fancy specimens we often see in garden centers. 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. Bees need nectar but be sure to include some pollen producing plants too.
Pollen Producing Flowering Plants
- Red Maple
- Grey Alder
Where to Use Plants that Don’t Attract Bees
No matter how bee friendly you are, there will be some situations in the garden where bee visitors are not quite as welcomed.
That’s okay. Plant flowers that attract bees 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. Choose from my list of flowers that repel bees or are less attractive to insect for these areas.
Leave plenty of walking space in your garden. This reduces the chance of accidental stinging. Most bees do not want to sting you.
As long as the foraging bees feel safe, you can safely observe them as they work.
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. Observe from a distance and enjoy the beauty of nature.
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. When ordering flowers seed or plants online – always check the reviews of the seller.
Starting annual flowers from seed is a great way to enjoy the full gardening experience and it is not as difficult as you may think. For perennials, shrubs, trees – purchasing started plants is the better way to go.
Everyone can play a role in helping bees and other pollinators. You do not have to be a beekeeper or have a large plot of land to help save the bees.