Save the Bees…Grow Flowers

“Save the Bees!” We need them to pollinate our gardens and fruit trees. So how can we attract bees into our garden? Not just any bees, honey bees. They need pollen rich flowers and water to stay alive. And they would also benefit from us not using damaging poisons on our gardens, needless to say.

save the bees grow flowers

When I go to the flower market, I take notice of what’s in bloom and what the honey bees are attracted to. I remember one time when I was specifically looking for something to bring home to attract bees into my garden, the snapdragons, (Antirrhinum majus), were buzzing with humming bees. I hazarded my life and dove in among them and pulled out two lovely plants to bring home. Maybe it was because it was winter, temperatures in the teens, that they didn’t really hang around my open rooftop garden for long. Oh they came back, but sporadically. I should have bought 20 of them!

Never mind, I have a list of plants that bees do love that I’m going to share with you. You can probably think of a lot more, but these are a few that I’ve noticed are particularly attractive to bees. There are trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and bulbs and a couple of unlikely plants mixed together.

Save the bees…grow flowers!

save the bees grow flowers

  1. Dill. I grew dill for it’s beautiful foliage and pretty blooms. When I was at Kadoorie Farm near Tai Po, Hong Kong, I found bees literally feasting on the flowers of dill. I’ve read that bees are enamored with yellow flowers, so that must be why they are attracted to them.
  2. Thyme. Thyme blooms in June and is usually covered in pretty pink blooms which are covered in bees!
  3. Crocus. One of the first Spring blooms, it is an important source of food for bees at a time of year when food is scarce and they are just waking up from their long sleep.
  4. Hyacinth. Another important Spring flowering bulb that supplies bees with a good source of nectar.save the bees grow flowers
  5. Pansy. In the pansy area of the greenhouse where I worked one summer the air was filled with the sound of buzzing bees hard at work collecting food from the pansies.
  6.  Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ears). My mother hated the time of year in late summer when the Lamb’s Ears would be in bloom because they would be covered in bees. It was a veritable feast for them. It is a wonderfully tactile plant though, with its soft, wooly leaves that you just want to stroke. I loved it. Great for front of border.
  7. Sedum sp. Sedum is a late summer bloomer that you can plant to save the bees. It’s a very attractive plant, drought tolerant and very attractive to bees as well.
  8. Roses. Roses are pollen-rich and perfect plants to have in the garden for the bees. The easier it is to get at the pollen the more attractive they are, so the single varieties would be the best to plant. Go for shrub roses.
  9. Fruit Trees. Apples and cherries and other fruit trees have beautiful blossoms that are attractive to bees. Small fruiting shrubs like blueberries, currants, raspberries are good as well.save the bees grow flowers
  10. Bauhinia blakeana, (Hong Kong Orchid Tree). This one is not for the cold climate garden, but prefers a humid, sub-tropical climate like Hong Kong and Florida. It has big, gorgeous pink blooms that bloom nearly all year long. Bees love it.
  11. Aster sp. I’m talking about the perennial Aster that blooms in the Fall. They are great to provide food for the bees right up until they go into hibernation.

I know there are dozens more you can grow, but these are just a few to get you started. It’s important to have plants that are attractive to bees in bloom Spring, Summer and Fall.

Save the bees…let the vegetables go to flower

Something you might not have thought of is letting some of your veggies go back to seed. Bees love this source of food. And you benefit by being able to collect your seed and plant it again next year.

Save the bees…go a little wild!

Now this is a little unconventional, but have an open mind, please! You know those pretty dandelions that grace your lawn every Spring as soon as they are high enough to produce a flower bud? Yeah, those. They are delicious to bees. We used to have a meadow of them first thing in the Spring. Until my Father got out the lawn mower.

save the bees grow flowers

Then, in the summer, give an area of your yard over to clover. It’s a plant worth having for three reasons. It’s a valuable food source for bees. It’s a great cover crop because it fixes nitrogen to it’s roots. So when you dig it under, it gives you back free fertilizer for your garden. Clover is often mixed with lawn seed to reduce the need to add nitrogen to your lawn. So, when you mow your lawn, a little bit of nitrogen is released into the soil. Isn’t it interesting? And the third reason it’s good to have clover is that it’s good for you. Yes, you can make clover tea and it will purify your blood, or something like that.

Now, having said all that, what plants do you plan to grow, or let grow, to save the bees? Please comment below!

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