Bees are one of the most important insects for pollination, and now with the increased use of pesticides on crops, the bee populations are in decline. We all need to make our garden bee friendly to help support local hives, and give bees the food they need to survive. Having bees in your garden will help pollinate fruit trees and other food crops, helping to increase your yield. If you are looking for flowers that attract bees to your garden, this guide shows you what to plant.
Did you know that bees see purple better than any other colour? Purple flowering plants include buddleia, lavenders and alliums. Other colours that attract bees are yellow and blue.
Long-tongued species of bee, such as the bumble bee, like tubular shapes flowers. Foxgloves, bluebells and honeysuckle are excellent food sources for bumblebee species.
Flowers throughout the Year
One thing that really helps bees is to provide sources of food for them throughout the year. Try to have plants flowering in your garden in the spring, summer and autumn. Some bees will also appear during mild winter days too.
Spring flowing plants include currants, lungwort and bugle.
Hebe is a flowering shrub that comes in a variety of colours and flowers through summer and autumn to provide bees with the pollen they need to lay up food stores for the winter months.
Verbena is a tall flowering plant not only looks great in you borders, but it flowers for a long time too.
For winter flowering plants, there are some species of heather that continue to flower throughout the winter months. You could also plant mahonia, a yellow flowering shrub.
Bees often prefer native species of flower over the cultivated kind, so if you can have a wild area in your garden you will attract bees and other insects. Dandelions for example are one of the earliest flowering plants in spring, and provide an important source of food early in the year for bee species. Clover is a favourite of bees, so if you have a patch in your lawn, leave it to flower before you mow it.
What not to plant
Double petals flowers, for example some species of dahlia, do not attract bees to your garden. The extra rows of petals make it hard for bees to access the pollen. Often, these sorts of plants have little value for bees, and lack good amounts of nectar and pollen. Stick with single flowers that bring more values to bees and other insects.
Do not use pesticides on your plants and this will harm bees. You might also consider making places for solitary bees to nest in, such as a bee hotel.
As long as you have flowering plants in your garden, you will get bees. However, to make it a place where bees can get plenty of pollen, try to have a variety of different shapes and colours, as well as different flowering times so you get blooms throughout the year.