It would be hard to select my top ten shrubs for bees because after all, there are so many.
But if I really had to create such a list, then Caryopteris x clandonensis (Bluebeard) would definitely be included.
Caryopteris x clandonensis is an absolute magnet for bees (and butterflies) but is perhaps not so well-known as some other blue-flowered shrubs, such as Lavender and Ceanothus.
Yet I hope that will change. I have two of these gorgeous shrubs in my garden, having first discovered Caryopteris (Bluebeard) a few years ago.
A swathe of Caryopteris x clandonensis were planted in a public garden I visited, and they were extremely popular with bees and butterflies.
It was even notable that some other (usually popular) flowers were left alone, whilst the bees buzzed busily on the stretch of Bluebeard.
Once I had seen how popular these shrubs were, I looked out for them at my local garden centre, and purchased two specimens of Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue'.
This year, I intend to purchase more.
Choose a sunny, sheltered spot in your garden and allow for growth of up to a metre in height and the same for spread - but more compact varieties are available.
In my experience, this shrub will tolerate some light shade, but as I write, I know I'll be moving both of mine into a spot in full sun this year.
Cuttings can be taken, so you can share these beautiful shrubs with your friends, creating more feeding stations for bees, or build up your own stock.
Note, the following shrubs are deciduous.
Caryopteris × clandonensis Heavenly Blue:
This is the variety I have in my garden. It has lovely blue flowers and is very attractive to bees.
Caryopteris × clandonensis Sterling Silver:
Lovely blue flowers are displayed on stunning silvery grey foliage.
Caryopteris × clandonensis Hint of Gold ('Lisaura') (PBR):
This gorgeous shrub features cobalt blue flowers and and golden-yellowish-green leaves adorn the stems.
Caryopteris × clandonensis 'White Surprise':
A lovely Caryopteris with violet-blue flowers and striking dark green leaves edged with creamy white.
Caryopteris × clandonensis Grand Bleu:
If you are looking for a more compact Caryopteris, this might be the one for you. It spreads to about half that of 'Heavenly Blue' but it will grow to a similar height.
Caryopteris × clandonensis Stephi ('Lissteph') (PBR):
If you are looking for a pink variety, this is one to consider. I have no personal experience with it, but I understand it is popular with bees and butterflies.
1. Burkle LA, Runyon JB. The smell of environmental change: Using floral scent to explain shifts in pollinator attraction. Appl Plant Sci. 2017 Jun 5;5(6):apps.1600123. doi: 10.3732/apps.1600123. PMID: 28690928; PMCID: PMC5499301.
2. Wright, G.A. and Schiestl, F.P. (2009), The evolution of floral scent: the influence of olfactory learning by insect pollinators on the honest signalling of floral rewards. Functional Ecology, 23: 841-851. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2435.2009.01627.x