Plants For Bees

Above: Beautiful bumblebee on Scabious (Pincushion Flower)


Here is a list of garden plants for bees that will provide forage for at least one species of bee. Many of these plants will attract honey bees and different types of bumblebees as well as solitary bees.

Even pots filled with plants such as Beach Aster (above), can help provide food for bees.

Most people can accomodate at least a few of these flowers to attract bees and butterflies into their gardens, even if only in pots dotted around the yard. 

If you are short of space, see my tips about gardening for bees in small spaces.

At the bottom of this page you'll also find links to further lists of plants for bees, including wildflowers, trees, hedgerows, shrubs, herbs, and fruit and vegetables.

Please note also that some of these plants appear on other lists on this site, because some species arguably straddle more than one category (e.g. cornflowers and foxgloves may also be categorized with wildflowers).

Also:

When selecting plants, traditional variaties are best, rather than the highly cultivated, extra-frilly types. 

Also, please ask your garden centre or store whether any plants you purchase have been cultivated using neonicotinoid pesticides. 


In the US, plants bought from garden nurseries and stores has revealed some may be contaminated with pesticides: A report from Friends Of The Earth said:

"many of the seedlings and plants sold in nurseries and garden stores across the U.S. have been pre-treated with neonicotinoids at much higher doses than are used on farms, where levels of neonicotinoid use are already raising concerns among beekeepers and researchers studying the decline of pollinator populations".

This scenario may even be true for Europe, Australia, New Zealand and so on.

The following lists are grouped by seasons - scroll down, or click on one of these links to jump straight to the list of garden plants:


LATE WINTER - SPRING GARDEN PLANTS
SPRING - SUMMER GARDEN PLANTS
SUMMER – AUTUMN GARDEN PLANTS
AUTUMN - WINTER GARDEN PLANTS



LATE WINTER - SPRING GARDEN PLANTS FOR BEES

Above: Hairy Footed Flower Bee (male) on Pulmonaria

Due to variations in climate and conditions, flowering times may differ from region to region, and this may also affect foraging, as well as the distribution of different bee species.  For example, Italian strains of honey bees will forage on crocus flowers, but in very cool weather, may be deterred from foraging in the first place.  Bumblebees, on the other hand, with their furry coats, can often be found foraging on cooler days. In fact, bumblebees are increasingly being seen to forage during the cool winter months in some countries, meaning that late and very early flowering plants are vital for bumblebees.

Mahonia
Winter Aconite
Crocus
Daffodil (try native wild types - e.g. if you live in the UK, try Narcissus pseudonarcissus)
Genista
Dicentra
Pulmonaria (Lungwort)
Gorse (Ulex)
Rosemary (Rosemarinus)
Flowering Currant (Ribes)
Primrose (Primula vulgaris)
Bluebell (Choose native varieties)
Cowslip (Choose native varieties)
Snakeshead (Fritillaria meleagris)
Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima, Lonicera purpusii)
Barberry (Berberis) (Lamium)
Bugle (Ajuga)
Ground Ivy
Snowdrops (Galanthes) – single flowered varieties
Winter Heathers (Erica carnea)
Lenten rose (Helleborus orientalis)



SPRING - SUMMER GARDEN PLANTS FOR BEES


Many plants which are beneficial to bees, such as Milkweed are also beneficial to other pollinators, such as the Monarch Butterfly pictured above, a species very much in need of our help!

During the Spring and Summer, all types of bees (and other pollinating insects) are rearing their broods.

A typical honey bee colony may consist of around 50,000 to 60,000 workers, as well as having larvae to feed.

Bumblebee colonies may be fragile - fewer than half survive, and solitary bees are in need of undisturbed nesting sites, as food is gathered for storing in egg cells to feed newly developing larvae.

Plenty of bee friendly plants are therefore vital during the Spring and summer to ensure survival of  colonies.

Many of these plants will also attract and benefit a range of other pollinators.  For example, Milkweed is vital for Monarch butterflies.  It's worth following the planting instructions very carefully to help ensure success, because some varieties have quite fussy requirements. I recommend Milkweed Asclepias tuberosa as a variety that is tolerant of dry and moist soil, but please note, it does need a lot of sunshine.  Choose a native seed supplier and beware of illegal imports. 


Forget-me-not (Myosotis)- pictured above
Foxglove (Digitalis)
Bistort
Crane’s-bill (Geranium)
Poppy (Papaver)
Chives
Bugle (Ajuga)
Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus acris)
Borage officinalis
Crocus
Comfrey (Malus)
Honey Suckle (Lonicera)
Passion Flower (Passiflora)
Muscari
Thyme
Sweetpea (Lathyrus)
Campanula
Lupin (Lupinus)
Rosa rugosa
Sea Holly (Eryngium)
Columbine (Aquilegia)
Penstemon
Salvia
Hebe
Allium
Agapanthus


SUMMER – AUTUMN GARDEN PLANTS FOR BEES

Above: Honey bee on Solidago - it's attractive to a range of bee species.

Above and below: Bumblebees on gorgeous Zinnias

During the late summer and autumn, these plants will continue to feed late developing broods, as well as those bees that have already developed into working adults.

Scorpion Weed (Phacelia)
Purple Loosestrife
Sedum
Golden Rod (Solidago)
Cornflower
Veronica
Zinnia
Nasturtium
Salvia
Verbascum
Scabious (Pincushion Flower)
Sunflower
Lavender
Watermint
Snapdragon (Antirrhinum)
Nepeta (Catmint)
Bugle (Ajuga)
Bergenia
Hellebores
Hollyhock
Bergamot
Sweet Sultan (Amberboa Muricata)
Verbena


Phacelia (Scorpion weed)
is excellent for bees.



AUTUMN - WINTER GARDEN PLANTS FOR BEES

Ivy (hedera helix) is loathed by some, but it is one of the few plants for bees that aid survival of the late foragers.

The pollination of ivy then allows berries to develop, thus feeding a number of birds over the winter months, as well as providing excellent shelter.

Research has shown that trees with ivy growing up them accomodate more wildlife than those without. Instead of assuming that all ivy must be cut away, it is better to be pragmatic about it. Investigate first whether it is really causing any damage. Most healthy trees can withstand at least some ivy growth before being cut back. The wildlife will appreciate it!

Ivy hedera helix
Mint (Mentha)
Oregano (Origanum)
Autumn raspberries
Viburnum
Common Heather (Calluna vulgaris)




More lists of plants to attract bees
Here you'll find more links to lists of plants for the different types of bees, including wildflowers, herbs, trees, shrubs, hedgerows, and even fruit & veg!


Plants for problem places
If nature provided us with dry, shadey or clay soil conditions, you can bet nature also provides the plants that will grow in them! And some of those plants attract bees and other pollinators. Find out which here.


Bee garden basics
Check out this great little page! It features lots of quick handy tips for creating a bee garden!


Free garden plants
It doesn't have to cost a fortune to plant up your garden with bee attracting plants! Here are some tips to help you save money, whilst encouraging pollinators into your garden.


Bee pollination
Bees are exceptionally important as pollinators, not only providing food for your plates, but ensuring biodiversity on the planet. Discover more here.


10 Ways to save the bees!
Here are my tips for saving the bees. Together we can make a very significant difference. There's no time to waste! For background information about the issues, see also my page Bees Decline


Are you thinking of purchasing a box of bumblebees for your garden?

Please read this first








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