If you’re a gardener, then you know that bees are some of the most important creatures when it comes to pollination and without them, our food supply would be in trouble.
If you’re a gardener, it’s important to know which plants bees like, so you can plant them in your garden and help support these vital creatures.
Bees enjoy a wide variety of flowers both wild and cultivated and this includes the flowers that you find on your vegetables, fruit and blossoms on your trees. Early and late season flowers help bees to survive in cooler weather too.
What plants attract the most bees?
Bees are attracted to flowers with a scent. In fact, they can be very sensitive to certain pheromones and scents that other insects leave behind as well as the colour of those scents.
Bees love cosmos, dahlias, sunflowers and a wide range of different perennials.
They also enjoy many different types of wildflowers.
Here are some plants that attract bees:
· Cosmos, Dahlia, Zinnia
· Perennials like Beebalm (Monarda), Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Columbine (Aquilegia), Foxgloves (Digitalis purpurea), Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea) and Lavender.
· Wildflowers like Buttercups, Dill, Dandelion, Echinacea species , Goldenrod, Lupins, Masterwort, Milkweed species , Mints, Monarda species , Pansies, Roses, Violets and Yarrow.
· Herbs like Basil, Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), Oregano, Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Sage (Salvia officinalis) and Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus).
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What bedding plants do bees like?
Bees are also attracted to bedding plants that are in your flower beds.
This includes Marigolds, Zinnias, Sunflowers, Petunias and Lobelias.
To attract bees to your garden, as well as your annual flowers, plant some perennials like lavender and mint.
These plants will produce masses of flowers for the bees to feast upon and will grow back every year and increase in size for very little effort.
How to encourage bees into your garden
As well as having lots of flowering plants and bushes you should also consider how you ‘treat’ your garden in general.
You should try to maintain a natural environment that is free from pesticides and other chemicals.
Leave your lawn uncut or, if you don’t want an untidy lawn, then try to leave an area untouched, where the grass can grow freely, meadow like.
Consider sowing some flower seeds among the grassed area to encourage bees and other wildlife.
Introduce a small pond or something similar where bees and other pollinating insects can drink – a small water feature can provide this as well as being visually appealing.
You can also provide some nesting boxes for bees, you can either make these or buy them at garden centres, stores or online.
Do flowers that attract bees also attract wasps?
Yes, wasps and other insects enjoy feeding on the sweet, energy providing nectar that is produced by flowers just like bees.
Should I leave sugar water out to attract bees?
While it is certainly possible to attract bees with sugar water there is really no need to do this.
If your garden has flowers then these will attract any bees in the area and this natural source of energy is better for bees than sugared water.
Do bees like weeds?
Because bees actually feed on pollen, nectar and other plant materials they can take advantage of weeds too.
Dandelions are particularly good for attracting bees because the flowers are very bright yellow in colour and this helps to attract bee visitors.
Other types of blossom that will help to attract pollinating insects include thistles, lavender, borage and poppies.
What we might consider to be weeds can actually be a good source of food for bees attracting them to our gardens.
Bees have a big role to perform in our environment.
They help to maintain the balance of nature by pollinating flowers.
In return, these flowers provide bees with food and this is how it should be.
By sowing bee friendly flowers in your garden, or creating areas that are restful for bees – whether it is an unkempt lawn or flower beds with lots of annuals and perennials you can help to encourage bees.
Not only will they provide a home for this useful insect they will also provide colour and interest in the garden, attracting us all to spend more time outdoors.
So go ahead and sow some bee friendly flowers this year.