How to attract bees to your garden

Here are eight simple ways to attract more bees—both native bees and honey bees—to your garden.

  • Plant species that bloom in sequence. Just like any animal, bees need a constant supply of food. A garden containing blossoms throughout spring, winter, and fall will attract the greatest number of bees.
  • Plant in clumps. It is easier to attract bees to a group of flowers than to a single flower. Each bee likes to collect pollen and/or nectar from many flowers of the same type.
  • To attract a diversity of bees, plant species of many shapes and colors. Some bees—such as honey bees—don’t see much on the red end of the spectrum, so go heavier on the blues, whites, and yellows.
  • Avoid highly inbred flowers. Clues to inbreeding include variegated flowers, flowers of unusual color, great size, long blooming period, or flowers known as “doubles” or “triples” with multiple sets of petals. In an effort to get particular effects, plant breeders often sacrifice the quality of nectar and pollen.
  • Leave bare patches of earth. Many bees live beneath the ground or use mud for building. Mud not covered with mulch is essential.
  • Maintain a “wild space” somewhere near your garden where grasses and weeds are allowed to grow to full height and remain undisturbed all winter long. Such an area provides habitat, nesting material, and shelter to wild bees.
  • Provide a water source. All living things need water, and bees are no exception.
  • Forget the pesticides and buy yourself a hoe. It’s better for them and better for you.
Crocus
Crocus

Rusty
HoneyBeeSuite

Comments

petra
Reply

Wondering why there are no bees in my yard this summer?

Bruce
Reply

HI Rusty,
I am in the process of planting a pollinator arboretum. Trees are long lived and the 3D aspect means more blooms, plus I will interplant with wildflowers and shrubs. I get scoffed at for planting trees because the payoff won’t be in my lifetime (how shortsighted). That we only do things for which we receive benefit is sad.
So far, I’ve put out 35 sourwood that I rescued from highway clearing, 100 black locust seedlings are coming along, 8 little-leaf linden, 1 regular linden and Vitex.

Rusty
Reply

When we first moved to our place twenty years ago we planted trees, little seedlings that looked like nothing. But guess what? We now have twenty-year-old trees. It happens like magic. Your friends are short-sighted; trees are one of the best investments you can make. Not only do they give you honey, shade, wind breaks, and wildlife habit, but they take carbon dioxide from the air, filter dust, prevent pesticide drift, attenuate road noise, give off oxygen, prevent run-off, and add humus to the soil. Some provide fruit, some supply firewood, and they all supply peace of mind and a belief in the future. But then, I think I’m preaching to the choir.

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