Plants to Attract Bees:
Shrubs, Hedgerows, and Trees

Updated: 7th February 2021

If you are wanting to attract bees into your garden, it's easy to forget about trees, shrubs and hedgerows! Yet they provide a number of benefits relating to food and shelter for different species.


Why are trees, shrubs, and hedgerows valuable for bees?

Firstly, trees, hedgerows and shrubs can provide nesting opportunities for bees, which may make their nests in abandoned rodent holes found at the base of a shrub, or in crevices and holes within the bark of a tree trunk, or hollow twigs.

Wild honey bee nest in tree trunk.  The opening appears as a kind of vertical slit or gash in the tree trunkWild honey bee nest in tree trunk.

Secondly, they also provide excellent foraging potential.   A decent sized shrub may be densely covered in nectar and pollen-rich flowers. 

This means foraging is efficient, requiring less energy for the bees to fly about in search of further sources of food. 

Bumble bee on yellow flower of Hypericum bush.Bumble bee on Hypericum bush.


Even at the end of the flowering season, trees and shrubs have their value for bees


Even the hollow stems of shrubs can be useful to bees. Tiny solitary bees may overwinter or make nests in them.  For example, the tiny harebell carpenter bee is only about 6 or 7mm in size and can easily be mistaken for a little black fly.  It may create its nests in hollow stems of plants (or even in woodworm and beetle holes). 

Bumble bees meanwhile, may take cover in piles of fallen leaves. 


The lesson is, please take care when tidying your garden.  Perhaps hollow shrub stems could be collected and placed in a corner of the garden or behind the shed rather than burned, for example.

Bumble bee on Escallonia.Bumble bee on Escallonia.

Furthermore, as the bees pollinate the flowers, the flowers develop into fruits, berries and nuts, which are then enjoyed by humans, of course, but also birds and small mammals.

For me, there is nothing better than to watch wildlife in the garden - it provides entertainment, wonder,  and sometimes a bit of natural garden "pest control".

Remember that in some cases, it will also be possible to underplant your trees and shrubs with yet more plants to attract to bees, such as Snake's head fritillary, bluebells, and other flower bulbs

LATE WINTER - SPRING shrubs, hedgerows and trees for bees:

Orange-tailed mining bee on willow catkin.Orange-tailed mining bee on willow catkin.



Mahonia
Acacia (A. dealbata & A. longifolia)
Willow (Salix) - provide an early source of pollen
Manuka (Leptospermum)

Bumble bee on manuka bush.Bumble bee on manuka bush.

Flowering Currant (Ribes)
Broom (Genista)
Alder (A. cordata; A.incana; A. glutinosa)
Ceanothus
Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
Winter Honeysuckle  climber great for hedgerows (Lonicera fragrantissima and Lonicera purpussii
Hazels - Corylus (C. avellana, C. maxima) great trees for bees, especially for pollen
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)

SPRING - SUMMER shrubs, hedgerows and trees for bees:

Honey bee foraging on Rosa rugosa.Honey bee foraging on Rosa rugosa.

Wild cherry (Prunus avium)
Sour cherry (Prunus cerasus)
Joshino cherry (Prunus xyeodensis)

Bird cherry (Prunus padus)
Horse chestnut
Escallonia
Hawthorn
Mountain ash (Sorbus)
Hollies (Ilex)
Wild roses and Rosa rugosa
Sallows
Guelder rose (Viburnum opulus)
Sloes
Rhododendron
Cotoneaster - various species
American lilac (Ceanothus)
June Berry (Snowy mespilus)
Pieris
Whitebeam
Sycamore
Hebe
Apples
Pears
Wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana)
Brambles

SUMMER - AUTUMN shrubs, hedgerows and trees for bees:

Hydrangea - certain species.

Bumble bee on Hydrangea paniculata.Bumble bee on Hydrangea paniculata.


Common Privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
Lime trees - but select careful, because some lime trees are toxic for, or have narcotic effects on bees
Eucalyptus
Whitebeam
Sycamore
Hypericum

AUTUMN - WINTER shrubs, hedgerows and trees for bees

Read my page Winter Flowering Shrubs For Bees

Honey bee on a cluster of pale pink daphne 'Jaqueline Postill' flowers.  This shrub has waxy green leaves.  It flowers in winter, and is very fragrant.

Daphne bholua Jaqueline Postill
Chinese Euodia (Tetradium daniellii hupehensis)
Ivy - Hedera helix
Strawberry Tree (Arbutus unedo)
Mahonia - Oregon grape
Sweet box - Sarcococca confusa









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