It is undeniable that bees play an integral part in the greater scheme nature has bestowed upon us. A flourishing, healthy, productive garden demands the pollination facilitated by bees and other pollinators. The USDA estimates that 1/4 of the food we consume requires pollination by insects.
There are some plants that are self pollinated or wind pollinated but not enough to sustain our needs, most require the help of the birds, bees and other pollinators.
Gardeners Can Help to save the bees, not only for the health and prosperity of their own little green half acre, but for the benefit of nature as a whole. Enhancing the habitat for bees is simple and rewarding, your yard can be a bee haven. There are many plants we can grow that will attract and nourish bees.
A single flower shan't do much but a floral smorgasbord will attract different pollinators at various points in the season. A array of diverse flowering plants that bloom from early spring right into late Autumn will help to attract a full spectrum of bees and other pollinators. Not just annual plants that you buy at home depots but perennial flowering shrubs, bushes and fruit trees of varying heights are also helpful. Researchers believe that bees find yellow, blue, purple flowers to be the most appealing.
Fruit and Nut Trees are attractive to bees when in bloom. Apples, peaches, cherries, almonds.
Hibiscus are flowering shrubs, sometimes considered small trees. They are a welcome addition to just about any landscape. They attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds with their large colorful blooms, the flowers are also edible and very tasty. They are tart like cranberries.
Squash, Pumpkin and related crops, when in bloom will draw in bees.
Another plant that is a bee magnet is Borage. Borage not only attracts pollinators, but also acts as a repellent to some unwanted insects such as the tomato horn worm and cabbage worms.
Bee Balm draws in bees, butterflies, and humming birds. The flowers are white, pink, red, or purple. The plant blooms from early to late summer. They are not only pleasing to the eye but also serve as an herb. Bee balm is in the mint family and the leaves are used to make a minty tea. It is has medicinal uses as well.
Calendula aka pot marigold is an edible flower that draws in bees. The vivid yellow-orange flowers are highly attractive. As a companion plant, it shares many of the attributes of its close cousin, true marigolds. It repels some garden pests and over time will attract beneficial nematodes. It is also viable as a trap crop for aphids. And did I forget to mention that it attracts bees ?
Echinacea aka purple cone flower is another useful plant both in the herbal realms as well as in attracting pollinators. It makes delicious eye candy for any landscape scenario. It is a hardy Native North American Plant. Echinacea is heat and drought tolerant, its blooms are long lived, unlike many other garden flowers that pop out and then disappear, its blooms linger for quite some time.
Lavender, lavender and more lavender. It is an awesome landscaping plant, it attracts bees, repels mosquitoes and is edible.
Sunflowers are rich in nectar and hence draw in bees as well as a host of beneficial garden insects.
Chives are bulbous plants, a perennial related to the Lilly, onions and garlic. They are grown for their flowers as well as their leaves. Their flat leaves are not hollow like scallions or onions. The plants produce beautiful, globe like lavender and pinkish blossoms that bees love.
Catnip aka Cat Mint draws in cats and also bees. The flowers are highly fragrant and last well into the fall. In the gardening realm it is frequently grown in 'tea-gardens' or paired up with up other plants for its qualities as a companion plant. Catnip repels some harmful insects , flea beetles in particular.
Mint family plants in general are attractive to bees include. There are over 500 types of mint.
Anise hyssop, Black eyed Susan, Butterfly Bush, Crocus / Saffron Crocus, Foxglove, Goldenrod, Hollyhock are all bee magnets.
As we stated earlier, there are roughly 4,000 types of bees in North America. Not all will be prone to feed on certain flowers and there is no way to ascertain what bees are present in your particular neck of the woods at any given time. So a diversity of flowering plants is advisable.
Native Wild flowers which come pre packaged in assorted blends are a good idea. Try to get a blend designed for your region. Plants that are native to the south or the prairie lands are not necessarily advisable for New England or the West Coast.