Plant Lists

Plants that Bees Love

The following plant lists were compiled from a survey of beekeepers in November 2014. In that survey, I asked where you lived and which plants you actually saw bees foraging on—both honey bees and native bees.

The list is unique because it is not theoretical as in “your bees should like this.” Instead it was derived from actual observations of current beekeepers. I did not distinguish between nectar plants and pollen plants, but only considered whether they were bee popular plants.

The plant lists below are sorted in various ways. The master lists contain all the listed plants alphabetically according to common or scientific name. There is a USDA Hardiness Zone list, and lists for geographic areas as well as individual states and provinces. If your area is not represented, it is because no one from your area answered the survey.

When selecting bee plants, remember that local variations known as micro-climates will affect how well a particular plant grows. Also remember that when a bee forages, she is highly influenced by what else is in bloom. A plant that is very popular with bees in one locale may not be as popular in a place where other more tempting plants are growing. The bees will pick their favorites from the choices available to them.

If you have additions to the plant lists, you can notify me and I will do a periodic update.
[line] Master Plant List by Scientific Name – US

Master Plant List by Common Name – US

Master Plant List by USDA Hardiness Zone

Plant List by Geographic Region – combined

Plant list by Individual States

Master Plant List by Scientific Name – Canada

Master Plant List by Common Name – Canada

Plant List by Province – Canada

Master Plant List by Common Name – International

Plant List by Country

Here is a list of some popular pollinator seed mixes and what they contain.

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  • Hello, We have some bees in the hills above Hollister California. We are enjoying a great wild flower bloom but the California Buckeye is beginning to bloom in the area. We have heard horror stories about the effect of Buckeye on bees.

    Any information would be appreciated.

    Thank you

    • Junior,

      The poison is in the pollen. What you can do is put a pollen trap on the hive during the duration of flowering, and then discard that pollen. It’s not a perfect solution, but it may lessen the damage.

    • Michael,

      Flowers do not continually produce pollen just like they don’t continually produce ovules. Many produce more nectar, however, which attracts pollinators back to the flower. That said, many flowers have lots of florets (tiny flowers within a larger flower). The florets often open sequentially, so more pollen is available on consecutive days, like in a sunflower.

  • I just started having my own honey bee hive and am still learning. I noticed today 3 bumble bees hanging around the entrance to the hive of my honey bees? The honey bees did not seem alarmed and even bothered? What is the relationship between the two? Special instructions?

    • Joseph,

      I see bumble bees around the hives sometimes, and I’ve seen them share feeders. It’s a non-issue. Don’t worry about it.

  • I’m interested in knowing what of the plants listed in my area (state) are blooming when, so I can get a clue what honey I will be harvesting. Can you point me to a resource. I am leaving all the honey the bees collected through mid-July, and taking only what they’ve gathered since then on new frames.

    • Willa,

      It is really hard to know what your bees collected without having the honey analyzed. It depends not only on the wild plants in your area but also the agricultural ones. In my area, fall honey often contains dandelion and goldenrod. But in your area it is probably different.

  • I’m new to beekeeping. Captured two swarms in April of 2016. I have watched my girls up to three hours going in and out, saw the waggle dance lots, watched the guard bees chase shadows of other bees flying in, kill a bald faced hornet and yellowjackets. Also caretakers fly away with dead bees. Propolis smells good. The queen is hard to find because they are buckfast bees. I heard a queen piping but nobody mentioned about the one bee that gives you a verbal warning, well not verbal, but she will fly around a lot louder and move around all over always before I get stung but sometimes I take her warning and go away usually when it’s bad weather out.

    • Mary,

      I asked beekeepers in the US and Canada to submit their observations by state or province. If no one in a particular state or province submitted anything, then there was nothing to include.

  • My friend has a small shrub in her yard that grew from a 6 inch start to a 3 ft tall shrub in a summer. The leaves are a light green with 3 to 5 teeth on the end and the florets look like tiny seed pods with just the tips of the stamens peeking out. They measure less than a centimeter but are very numerous. All kinds of bees and wasps are attracted to this bush and it is fascinating to watch them. We have no idea what it might be. Any suggestions?

  • I also have a colony of what appear to be asia cerena bees living under a mobile home I use for storage. I contacted a local bee fancier and she posted the information in their newsletter but no one has contacted me about wanting them. Do you have any suggestions?

  • I am new in beekeeping. I would wish to keep the bees sheltered, ie keep several hives in an enclosure, to avoid conflict. I haven’t come across any shelter/housing design. Anybody who could direct me somehow?


  • Hi, I found in Indonesia some farmers put some buckets of palm sugar around bee boxes to help them produce honey faster than the normal way. That’s good or no good?

    • Maryam,

      Bees can’t make honey from sugar, they can only make sugar syrup. In the United States, honey is defined as being made from the nectar of flowers. So here, you couldn’t legally sell that stuff under the name “honey.” You would have to call it something else. I have no idea what is legal or illegal in Indonesia.

  • Afaik saccharose can kill their bees when it crystalizes inside of them.

    I’ve been told to never give them saccharose but simple sugars (glucose and fructose) which is in nectar.

    Is this true Rusty? This year I’ve been making glucose and fructose for the bees that were fatigued etc.

    • David,

      Saccharose (sucrose) is harmless to bees. Nectar of all types is loaded with sucrose and is is usually the most abundant sugar in any nectar. Enzymes in the bee’s saliva break the sucrose down into glucose and fructose immediately upon eating.

      • Hmm, yes I meant Sucrose sorry, saccharose is the common name in Dutch even among us chemists (well ex.).

        Most flowers I have are around 1/3 each of sucrose, fructose and glucose. Now I wonder where I got that idea from, maybe something to do with fatigue. It was rescue related.

        Still boiling sugar water into a syrup gets you glucose & fructose. No harm done pfui.. 🙂

        A quick glance at Wikipedia confirms what you’re saying, thanks!

        I’ll study bees more once I get around to them.

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