bee forage

Bee-u-tify flower seeds for bees


Here in Washington State, the Noxious Weed Control Board is distributing packets of non-invasive flower seeds for bees and butterflies. The program is co-sponsored by the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the Washington Invasive Species Council, and Lincoln, Skamania, Pierce, and Thurston counties.

Landowners are being encouraged to eradicate invasive weeds and replace them with bee forage. Although some invasives such as yellow star-thistle and Japanese knotweed are considered excellent bee forage, they are damaging to the environment in other ways. For example, yellow star-thistle can injure pasturing animals and Japanese knotweed can choke salmon streams.

The Bee-u-tify seed packets are produced by Ed Hume Seeds and are available free of charge from the entities listed above. However, if you live in a different jurisdiction, or if you cannot locate a package of the seeds, I’ve listed the species these government agencies consider non-invasive bee feed for this climate. Most of these plants will grow in a wide range of hardiness zones.

Further information about controlling noxious weeds and replacing them with bee-friendly non-invasives can be found in their brochure, Bees and Noxious Weed Control: finding common ground.

Bee-u-tify | Non-Invasive Flower Mix for Bees, Butterflies and more:

  • lance-leaved coreopsis
  • purple coneflower
  • sunflower
  • perennial lupine
  • annual lupine
  • blanketflower
  • crimson clover
  • partridge pea
  • Mexican hat
  • cosmos “Sensation”
  • lacy phacelia
  • plains coreopsis
  • butterfly milkweed
  • blue sage
  • poached egg meadowfoam
  • Rocky Mountain penstemon
  • lemon mint
  • bee balm

Bee-u-tify seed packet: Flower Seed•Bee Feed•Good Deed


  • There’s also Washington legislation SB 1654 which sits in ways and means right now which would initiate a pilot study in WA for planting bee forage in places where noxious weed control occurs. The Noxious Weed Board is on board and we need the Ways and Means Committee to pass it out of committee.

    Contact them!
    Here’s the members of the committees with links:

    Hill, Chair (R); Braun, Vice Chair (R); Dammeier, Vice Chair (R); Honeyford, Vice Chair, Capital Budget Chair (R); *Hargrove; Keiser; ****Ranker; Bailey; Becker; Billig; Brown; Conway; Fraser; Hasegawa; Hatfield; Hewitt; Kohl-Welles; O’Ban; Padden; Parlette; Rolfes; Schoesler; Warnick

    This pilot project will replace noxious weeds which are also good bee forage on limited amounts of state land with plants that are also good bee forage, but not considered noxious weeds. Beekeepers have often been frustrated at state and county efforts to, as they see it, destroy bee habitat. We hope to learn from this project which of the recommended plants work best in which environment, which techniques lead to best replacement of noxious weeds with good ones, and what the long-term benefits are from successful replacement of noxious with beneficial plants.

    The state Noxious Weed Control Board will conduct the pilot project and will select the plants and seeds used. The NWCB has distributed thousands of Bee-utify seed packets across the state to promote bee-friendly forage; I assume they are confident their supplier will not include noxious weed seed in their packets and would do the same for this project.

    The USDA-NRCS recommended Plants for Pollinators for east and west of the Cascades is found at and

  • For some reason, that web page is unavailable. Seems like many bee-friendly blooms are from invasive species. They love the autumn olive in West Virginia.

  • Rusty,

    May I be impertinent enough to add my comment about language usage to this post: Just as you wrote about your pet peeves regarding confusing and inaccurate use of beekeeping terminology and jargon (with which I am in agreement), my pet peeve is the use of common names for plants, names which can vary widely from one place to another or where the same common name is used for two different plants.

    I think I know some of the plants on this list, but some of the names are unknown to me. I live on the East Coast, so some of these plants my not be appropriate or available here, but I would still like to know exactly which plants these are.

    I’ve had debates over the years with well-trained and well-educated gardeners in this area who persist in using (often in classes and in print) only the common names because people don’t know or, they claim, are put off by the botanical names. I believe that in many cases both should be used—give the common name and parenthetically add the botanical name. In time, I find people become more comfortable with the botanical terminology and eventually recognize that these terms are not only precise, but often usefully descriptive.

    • Debbe,

      It’s interesting that you mentioned the name problem. After I posted this list, it struck me as odd that they listed only the common names on the outside of the packet. Even if I went back and “translated” these common names into scientific ones, there is no guarantee they would represent the same seeds that are in the packet—and for all the reasons you mentioned.

      What irritates me is words like “mason” bee. To entomologists a mason bee is a bee that collects building materials from the environment (rather than secreting them). To most other people, a mason bee is whatever species of Osmia that lives in their area. The confusion knows no end.

      I also agree that if you use the correct words, people will learn them. But if you hide them away, learning never happens.

  • This post is timely …. I just planted several of these packets yesterday. 🙂 If all goes well, I will have pictures to show off of its effectiveness this summer and fall ….

  • Love your website, posts, info. Agree with Debbe. How can a lay person, such as myself, learn the accurate name of a plant, bee, butterfly, etc. if those names are not used? Thanks for not succumbing to dumbed down terminology. It’s not only not helpful, as you point out, it’s often not accurate. Great comments.

    Wish I’d known about the legislation. I’m politically active & with health conditions affected by the BAU groundskeeping practices used here in HUD housing, I want to share my concerns regarding the use of lawn care chemicals.

    My neighbor in adjacent quad has had mgmt in several times to spray for ants, spiders & bees in the clover in our grass. Unfortunately my body reacts to these sprays & now, his bombing his unit. There’s an elderly couple on the other side of his unit, and with many of us being disabled & elderly, the reliance on chemicals to eradicate minor, very minor, inconveniences, overall, does not justify their usage.

    Multiply chemical usage in BAU groundskeeping practices on thousands of acres on school & university campuses, govt offices grounds, parks, for a fuller picture of how we are polluting grounds water, and the environment, and exposing vulnerable adults, children & pets to chemicals & gasoline powered equipment, all unnecessarily.

    Rather than creating neat, sculptured, pristine appearing grounds, I think about the lost opportunities to nuture the land, and the human mind. The lost opportunities to engage all generations in the art & aesthetics of creating in nature.

    Did you know before the advent of BIG Pharma, that Western State Hospital in Steilacoom, Washington, once operated a farm & orchards & gardens as not only a partially self-sustaining operation, but as a former of mental health therapy for its patients? Think about this. The grounds are now a Pierce County Park, but some of the barns still exists. The once cultivated fruit trees are persona non-grata.

    We gardeners well know the physical & emotional health benefits of connecting with the land, with flora & fauna, so why are we actively promoting high-density high-rise warehousing of humans through such vehicles as Smart Growth, Growth Management Act is a dichotomy that confounds this 67 yo gardeners mind.

    I would apologize for pointing out this cognitive dissonant rationalization for human warehousing, but if it wasn’t okay to do Washington Asians in WWII, why is it okay to call it Quality of Life in our time, when it’s the absolutely worst Quality of Life?

    Driving inner-city buses in Tacoma-Seattle for twenty years, a rather violent job where being called effing white B, was not uncommon, gardening, communing with the birds, the bees, the soil, became my drug of choice. I believe, but can’t be sure, the lack of the connection to one’s own patch of soil, while being subjected to the starkness, the unhealthy sights & sounds of humans on concrete, aka city-life, contributes to the hostility of one human upon another. And certainly that idea can be upheld by the once held views of having mental health patients operate farms, milking cows, tending chickens, gardens, orchards as therapy. I would bet that model helped heal far more people than forced ingesting of clearly harmful & dangerous chemicals.

    I’m not sure why our enlightened thinking today has become so compartmentalized based upon one’s world view, but it has. The good news, is that it only takes a few people with the courage to point out when conflicting ideas are, in practice, counter-productive. That’s what I’m attempting to do here & elsewhere.

    My apologies for a poorly written post, as I am on my cell phone & I’m not as careful of proofing my writing. Hopefully my ideas cone through, regardless. I’m so grateful for your information & posts.

    • Maryn,

      Not only was I aware of the farm at Western State, I’ve written about it many times. Very sad that the state decided that inmates were better off in front of a t.v. than outside working with nature.

  • I only learned of the farm @ Western State 23 years ago, after living in greater Tacoma for 20 years. It’s important history bc it bolsters my case against just a few of the plethora of reasons why human warehousing, through laws & policies chiming out of the Growth Management Act, aka Smart Growth,not only do not make fiscal sense, they are physically & psychologically harmful.
    And I think my English profs just awarded me for the longest run on sentence, LOL.

  • I’d just like to point out that as the Latin botanical names keep changing, the argument for using them to make things clearer has sprung a few leaks. If I say Spanish bluebell there’s a good chance you’ll know what I mean, but it’s been scilla, endymion, and now hyacinthoides just in my lifetime. It’s hard to blame people for using names that they can at least spell and pronounce. BTW, are you still using mahonia or have you gone back to berberis for Oregon Grape?

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