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Best Flowers for Bees

Bees pollinating pink-white dahlia flowers

Who runs the world? Bees! While we love Queen Bee-yonce, this Earth Day, let’s take a moment and honor our yellow and black friends that play such an important role in our ecosystem. These cute insects offer more than honey: they are crucial to the Earth’s ecosystem and our food supply. Thriving bees contribute immensely to a healthy planet. The more we can help the bees, the more they can help us. Consider planting some bee-friendly flowers in your garden!

The Importance of the Honeybee

You’ve learned about the birds and the bees but have you heard the buzz about why bees are so important? It’s not just because they make delicious honey. Agricultural and horticultural communities have been trying to educate the greater public on the troubling decline of the honeybee. Worldwide bee populations continue to decrease. That’s not good because it jeopardizes the environment, animals, and our fruit and vegetable production. Some bee species have even become endangered.

Bees perform an essential role for ecosystems, animals, and even us humans. Honeybees are the most important pollinators on Earth. Pollination supports food crops valued at up to $577 billion. That’s a big responsibility that falls on those little yellow shoulders!

Attracting Bees to Your Garden

flowers for bees: borage, apple blossom, sage, lavender, poppy, scabiosa, dahlia, sunflower, aster, snapdragon

If you’re looking to plant a bee-friendly garden, consider which plants and flowers to select. Bees prefer the native plants for your region. The particular bee varieties in your area evolved with the native habitat. To make your garden the most attractive for bees, select native flowers over flowers brought to your region from elsewhere. Using native flowers helps promote a healthy local ecosystem. Non-native trees and plants can disrupt the local ecosystem and throw it out of balance. Planting a bee-friendly garden is a great way to celebrate Earth Day.

Tips When Planting Flowers to Attract Bees

  • If you’re looking to attract bees to your garden avoid standard greenery such as ferns or eucalyptus. Bees see in colors so they love flowers that pop in purple, violet, and blue.
  • Keep in mind bees are sensitive to pesticides and fungicides so if you plant bee attractors in your garden, try to use only safe, organic compounds. You don’t want to hurt your new friends!
  • Avoid purchasing other plants that have used systemic insecticides as they can make your garden inhospitable to bees.
  • Think about whether your garden sits in full sun, shade, or both. The amount of sun will guide your flower selections.
  • Perennials bloom every year. Annuals have to be grown from seed every year. The advantage of annuals is they blossom for an entire season. Perennials, on the other hand, don’t have to be grown from seed every year. Consider which type will work best for your garden.
  • Double flowering varieties, including some carnations, peonies, and roses, are harder for bees to pollinate. Single flowering perennials attract bees easier.
  • A bee paradise garden will contain a mix of flowers that bloom from early spring to late summer so consider mixing things up with flowers that bloom at different times.
  • Culinary herbs that flower can also attract bees. If you’re also growing an herb garden considering including borage, sage, rosemary, lavender, chives, thyme, and mint.
  • If you’re looking for some bee-attractive Bouqs, check out our mixed bouquet collection. Many contain the flowers mentioned below that bees love.

Facts About Bees

  • Bees have over 20,000 different species. There are over 4,000 species in North America. Bees exist from the arctic circle to the equator.
  • The smallest bee in North America is the fairy bee who is only 2mm long while carpenter bees come in at a big 40mm.
  • 1 in 4 wild bee species are in danger of extinction.
  • Through pollination, many animals depend on bees for their own food sources — nuts, fruits, seeds, and berries. If bees become extinct all animal species including humans become endangered.
  • 90% of commercially grown US crops depend on pollination.
  • The flower preference of bees depends on the length of their tongue. Smaller bees prefer small flowers like asters or sunflowers (the center of a sunflower is actually hundreds of tiny flowers). Larger bees, like bumblebees, prefer larger flowers such as bottle gentian.

Best Flowers for Bees

The best flowers for bees are native to your area. With thousands of species of bees, the ones in your area will have evolved along with the native flowers. So plant native flowers for the best chance at attracting bees.

Bees can be attracted to blue, purple, violet, yellow, and white flowers. However, bees see in the ultraviolet spectrum so they don’t see red. They can see shades of red like orange and yellow so don’t worry, you can keep those beautiful sunflowers. Fun fact: daisies are also known as asters and come from the same family of flowers as sunflowers.

If you want a bee-friendly garden, consider planting these blooms. We went over 10 for this list because there are some we just couldn’t leave out.

Poppy

Botanical Name: Papaveraceae
Flower Type: Perennial or annual
Blooms: Early Spring to May
Light requirements: Full sun

Lavender

Botanical Name: Lavandula
Flower Type: Perennial
Blooms: Early summer but some varieties bloom earlier
Light requirements: Full sun

Apple Blossoms

Botanical Name: Malus domestica
Flower Type: Perennial
Blooms: Spring or Fall depending on the variety
Light requirements: Full sun or partial shade

Borage

Botanical Name: Borago officinalis
Flower Type: Annual
Blooms: Summer
Light requirements: Full sun or partial shade

Sage

Botanical Name: Salvia
Flower type: Perennial (Zones 7-10) or annual
Blooms: Summer to Autumn
Light requirements: Full or partial sun

Scabiosa

Botanical Name: Scabiosa columbaria
Flower type: Perennial
Blooms: Spring until frost
Light requirements: Full sun with some afternoon shade

Dahlia

Botanical Name: Dahlia pinnata
Flower type: Annual or perennial
Blooms: Summer to Autumn
Light requirements: Full sun

Sunflower

Botanical Name: Helianthus annuus
Flower type: Annual
Blooms: Summer to Autumn
Light requirements: Full sun

Snapdragon

Botanical Name: Antirrhinum
Flower type: Annual
Blooms: Spring to Autumn
Light requirements: Full sun but can tolerate afternoon shade

Aster

Botanical Name: Asteraceae
Flower type: Perennial
Blooms: Summer to Autumn
Light requirements: Full or partial sun

Bee Balm

Botanical Name: Monarda
Flower type: Perennial
Blooms: Summer
Light requirements: Full sun but tolerates partial sun

Mint

Botanical Name: Mentha
Flower type: Perennial
Blooms: Summer to Autumn
Light requirements: Full sun or partial shade

Goldenrod

Botanical Name: Solidago
Perennial
Blooms: Summer to Autumn
Light requirements: Full sun

Marigold

Botanical Name: Calendula officinalis
Flower type: Perennial
Blooms: Spring to early Autumn
Light Requirements: Full sun or partial shade

Larkspur

Botanical Name: Delphinium
Flower type: Annual
Blooms: Spring to Summer
Light Requirements: Full sun or partial shade

Black-eyed Susan

Botanical Name: Rudbeckia hirta
Flower type: Annual or short-lived perennial
Blooms: Summer to early Autumn
Light Requirements: Full sun or partial shade

FAQ

What Color of Flowers Will Attract Bees?

Purple, blue, violet, yellow, and white are colors that bees are attracted to.

What Flowers Do Bees Love?

  • Poppy
  • Lavender
  • Apple Blossom
  • Borage
  • Sage (salvia)
  • Scabiosa
  • Dahlia
  • Sunflower
  • Snapdragon
  • Aster
  • Bee Balm
  • Mint
  • Goldenrod
  • Marigold
  • Larkspur
  • Black-eyed Susan

What Color Do Bees Not Love?

Bees can’t see red. So, red flowers won’t attract bees the way other bright colors do. However, hummingbirds and butterflies love red flowers. So, if you’re looking for a flowering garden that attracts a variety of birds and bees, you can keep the reds!

Is it good to have bees in your garden?

Absolutely. Bees are nature’s all-star pollinators. They make a huge contribution to the thriving flowers and plants. This means more bees lead to more flowers and plants. This is great for agriculture and the environment in general! So plant some flowers that attract bees to your garden and enjoy the benefits with the knowledge you are contributing to a healthier environment.

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