You’ve probably heard that the bee population is declining, which isn’t good for our gardens or the world in general. Without bees our ecosystem would fail, and humans wouldn’t be able to exist! You can help correct this problem by adding bee friendly flowers to your garden.
What makes a flower bee friendly?
- Provides a healthy diet: Flowers that attract bees provide abundant nectar and pollen, the only sources of carbohydrates and protein in a bee diet.
- It’s the right color: If you thought red or yellow, guess again. Bees actually see flowers in the blue and purple spectrum and are naturally attracted to them. Fun fact: flowers in the blue-purple range produce the most nectar. Bees can also see ultraviolet light, and many flowers have ultraviolet nectar guides that are invisible to us but lead bees right to their sweet treat!
- It’s the perfect shape: Some bees prefer certain flowers because of their shape. These preferences are often determined by the length of a bee’s tongue.
- It’s chemical-free: Don’t treat your flowers with pesticides, these are extremely toxic to honeybees, try to opt for an eco-friendly treatment, and apply it in the early morning or at dusk when there are fewer bees around. Also try to avoid buying plants that have been pretreated with systemic chemicals, even in small doses, as this can be harmful to bees.
Bee Garden Tips
Although planting colorful flowers makes for a beautiful yard, there are other things you can do to help keep bees in your garden. Here are tips for creating the ultimate pollinator paradise:
Provide a comfortable living space:
Not all bees colonize in hives like the super-social honeybee. Bumblebees nest in holes in the ground and need bare areas of unmulched soil where they can dig their underground tunnels. Certain species of solitary bees make their homes in aboveground tunnels or cavities in hollow-stemmed plants and dead wood.
Create a small bee watering station by placing a shallow, wide dish in the garden filled with clean water and a few stones the bees can stand on
Include a mix of Native and Non-Native plants:
Native bees are more likely to be attracted to the native flowers they are familiar with, but non-native plants such as catmint, zinnias, and lavender can also be irresistible to bees, especially if they produce a lot of nectar. By filling your garden with a variety – including annuals, perennials, shrubs, trees, ground covers, vegetables, and herbs – you’ll attract a greater diversity of bee species.
Grow some herbs:
Many pollinators, especially bees, are drawn to herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, because of their intense scent.
Fourteen bee friendly flowers
- Bee Balm
- Bulb Globe Allium
- Oriental Poppy
- Great Blue Lobelia
- New England Aster
- Stiff Goldenrod
- Joe Pye Weed