The benefits of bees are endless. They’re responsible for pollinating nearly 85% of the food crops eaten by both humans and animals, and their pollination efforts are what help plants grow year after year, keeping them from extinction.
However, many Save the Bees efforts are primarily focused on honeybees. And although honeybees are important to the environment (and our honey supply), they’re an introduced species in North America and are typically managed and protected by beekeepers. What people should focus on are native bees — such as digger bees, mason bees, and bumble bees — which don’t produce honey but are still essential in pollinating a variety of plants.
So one of the best things you can do for your garden (and the environment as a whole) is attract native bees. And as luck would have it, the best flowers for bees are also some of the most beautiful.
How Do Bees Choose Flowers?
A bee’s natural instinct is to find pollen. Why? Because that’s what bees eat! To find yummy pollen (and nectar), bees use many of the same indicators that we use to find food — how it looks, previous experiences, and recommendations from others.
Bees are attracted to bright colors, although they can’t see red. Purples, blues, yellows, and whites are best for attracting bees, and native plants generally attract more since they’re more familiar. And when bees find a flower they like, they keep coming back and spread the news to the rest of their hive.
So what are the best ones for you to grow? Here are 5 of native bees’ favorite flowers:
Coneflowers are among the most popular bee-friendly perennials, with their large centers and colorful petals. They come in various shades, but purple, white, orange, and yellow are best for attracting bumble bees. Plant your Coneflowers in early springtime, and they should bloom throughout the summer, continuing to feed bees into the fall even when other flowers are finished for the season.
2. Bee Balm
Known for its remedial uses and healing qualities for humans, bee balm is also quite attractive to bees. Bee balm typically blooms in early to mid summer, and bumble bees seem to be the most attracted to it. Plant your pink or purple bee balm in fall or spring after the last frost. And make sure to give them plenty of space to grow!
Another flower that continues to bloom late in the season is Sedum. Sedum produces a lot of pollen and is described as “intoxicating” to bees. Honey bees love them, but so do 15+ types of native bees, including the andrena bee. You can plant this flower after the last frost and even into the summertime – and you’ll watch them continue to bloom all season long!
4. Russian Sage
So far we’ve mainly focused on pollen producers for bees, but Russian Sage is a great source of nectar, which is just as important. Carpenter and leafcutting bees as well as honey bees are most attracted to Russian Sage. These plants are also fairly low maintenance, which makes them an easy addition to any garden. Plant them somewhere it will get a lot of sun in the early spring or late fall, with several feet between each one so they have room to spread out as they grow.
5. Black-Eyed Susan
With their bright yellow flowers and dark centers, this common wildflower known as the Black-Eyed Susan is great for attracting mason bees. Luckily, these flowers are also fairly low-maintenance – plant them in the early springtime, and you’ll have beautiful flowers by the early summertime and plenty of native bees to go with them.
Your Bee-Friendly Garden Is Just a Phone Call Away
Ready to start growing your native bee paradise? Rock Solid can help! We’ll help you pick out the best flowers for attracting bees and expertly plant them for the best blooms every time. Send us a message or give us a call at 763-398-0739 for a free quote!