Attracting Bees

You’ve probably heard by now that bees in the U.S. are disappearing. There’s plenty you can do in your own garden to help local bee populations survive and thrive. The following tips will help you create a beautiful garden that is helpful to bees and other beneficial insects.

  • Create Diversity and Color – Some creatures may be color blind, but not bees. The more color and the wider variety of flowers in your garden, the better. They are particularly fond of blue, purple, yellow, and white flowers.
  • Use Native Plants – Bees in your area will be most attracted to native plants that they are familiar with. Mix a few in with your favorite ornamentals. Contact your local nursery or independent garden center, your state’s Native Plant Society, or your local Cooperative Extension office for a list of native plants for your area.
  • Plant Flowers in Clusters – Larger groupings of flowers (instead of sporadically spaced single plants) attract more bees. Even if you only have a small garden area or a few containers to plant in, it will be beneficial to local foraging bees.
  • Plan for a Succession of Blooms – Plant some flowers that bloom in spring, some in summer, and some in fall. That will provide food for the bees over a long period of the year.
  • Plant in Sunny Areas – Bees prefer to forage in sunny, protected areas where they won’t be bombarded by wind. Sunny spots produce the most prolific flowers as well.
  • Put Flowers in the Vegetable Garden – If you intersperse some flowers that bees love with your veggies, it will help increase pollination of your vegetables for a better crop.
  • Allow Some Vegetables and Herbs to Bolt – Leaving a few vegetables and herbs in the garden in the fall will allow them to flower and provide late season food for bees.
  • Garden Organically – Use non-toxic forms of pest control. Traditional pesticides may kill beneficial insects like bees and butterflies.

If you are concerned about having too many bees buzzing around, there are ways to avoid bee stings:

  • Don’t put plants that attract bees in a heavy human traffic area.
  • Don’t wear bright or very dark colors, especially with floral prints.
  • Cover food and drinks, especially fruit and sweet soft drinks.
  • Always wear shoes.
  • Avoid wearing perfume or scented body products in the garden.
  • Never disturb a nest.
  • If you are allergic to bee stings and get stung, seek emergency assistance immediately.

Botanical Interest Flowers that Attract Bees: Agastache, Bee Balm (Monarda), Butterfly Weed, Columbine, Cosmos, Daisy, Echinacea, Flax, Four O’Clocks, Foxglove, Gaillardia, Hollyhocks, Lavender, Lavender Hyssop, Lupine, Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa), Salvia, Sunflowers, Wallflower, Zinnia,
Botanical Interest Herbs That Attract bees (when flowering): Basil, Borage, Catnip, Chives, Dill, Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Rosemary, Thyme, Mint, Botanical Interest Vegetables that Attract Bees (when flowering) Cucumbers, Melons, Onions, Pumpkins, Squash, Watermelons