If you’ve paid attention to the news in recent years, you’ll know that honey bees are declining at a rapid rate. Most plants rely on pollinators like bees to transfer pollen and nectar around, and without bees, we simply might not have fresh crops anymore.
To do your part, be sure to grow these plants in your garden to attract more bees and to give them a safe place to thrive.
What attracts bees: While hornets and wasps are pests, bumblebees serve a very important function in our lives. Not only do they provide us with sweet honey, but they are responsible for most fruit production around the world. Plants need bees and we should support them as best as possible. Plant flowers of different species that will bloom at different times of the year. Go for bold colors, such as purple, white, and yellow, and include blossoms of different shapes and sizes. Native species are preferable to tropical varieties, as bees are more used to these plants. If you can, create a water feature in your garden as bees need to drink, too. Finally, avoid all pesticides. Not only do pesticides kill bees but they also kill weeds such as dandelions, which attract bees.
How Do Plants Attract Bees?
Bees are attracted to plants based on their color and scent. The more familiar a bee is with a particular species, the more they will come back to it.
Inside a flower is nectar, which is a sweet substance that bees eat for their nourishment. There is also pollen, which is a mixture of protein and fat.
When a bee lands on a flower, it will eat the nectar and some of the pollen. A side-effect of this process is that some nectar will stick to the bee’s legs.
As the bee moves around and gathers more nectar, that pollen will dust off and spread to other flowers. Flowers need pollen from other flowers to grow their fruit, and as a species, we definitely need fruit in our lives.
How to attract more bees?
We hope that you want a garden full of bees and other pollinators. For this to happen, here are a few ways to attract more bees.
Use native plant societies.
Bees only know what they are used to. If you introduce exotic flowers, they may not know what to do. However, local bees will be used to native plants, and if you use those in your garden, they will naturally flock to them.
Don’t use pesticides.
When bees see plants they love, they will head there, unaware of potential poisons. While you might be trying to rid your garden of weeds, those same pesticides can have dire consequences on bees.
Furthermore, you may want to rethink your stance on weeds. While they may bother you, they are a treasure trove for bees.
In particular, common weeds such as dandelions and chickweed will help attract more bees.
Plan your garden so it flowers year-round
Different plants will bloom in different parts of the year. If you have enough space in your garden, have plants that flower year-round.
This will encourage more bees to stop by your garden at all times of the year. If you only have flowers that bloom for a short period of time, your bees may forget about you.
Diversity is key
Include flowers of different colors, shapes, and sizes. Include purple, blue, white, and yellow flowers.
Because bees use their tongues to access the nectar, you will want different sizes of flowers. Different bees have different sizes of tongues, so you don’t want to limit your garden to just one type of flower and therefore one type of bee.
Plant in the sun
Bees love flowers in the sun, so be sure to include plenty of sun-loving plants. You can also plant shade flowers, but make sure there is a mixture.
Add a water feature
Just like all creatures, bees need access to freshwater. A fountain or pond can make your garden a real favorite among bees.
Best plants for bees
- Lavender – An all-time favorite for bees, the bright purple flowers and intoxicating smell will certainly attract bees to your garden.
- Lilac – With blossoms from spring to summer, these fragrant flowers are a favorite of bees.
- Foxgloves – Bees can see ultraviolet light, and foxgloves light up at night for bees, making them a must-have for any garden.
- Chives – An easy perennial, chive flowers are pretty and delicious for bees.
- Pussy willow – While not often found in gardens, pussy willows provide important nutrients for queen bees, especially when they are out looking for new colonies.
- Crocus – Flowers can be scarce in springtime, so early-budding flowers like crocuses give much needed nutrients to bees who are emerging from hibernation.
Effects of Bees on Fruit
While there are some types of fruit that are self-pollinators, meaning they don’t need the help of insects, there are many that need bees for survival.
One of the reasons why there are fruit tree orchards is so that bees will come and help transfer the pollen from blossom to blossom. Without this, fruit simply won’t grow.
While we talk a lot about bees as pollinators, there are actually many other insects that serve the same purpose. Basically, if an insect likes to travel from one plant to another, it will pick up pollen and distribute it, thus helping with the pollination process.
Hummingbirds drink nectar from their long tongues, and they need to land on flower petals to do so. As they move to other flowers, that pollen will stick and be redistributed.
Likewise, butterflies and moths also have long tongues that suck nectar from flowers. Similarly, pollen sticks to their legs which is then spread around as they fly through gardens.
Without bees, the world will lose a lot of its food sources. Many plants require the use of bees and other pollinators to spread nectar around, which turns blossoms into fruit. Help promote the bee population by planting bright flowers in sunny areas.