Bee friendly plants




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BEE FRIENDLY PLANTS

The plants listed below are all attractive to honey bees. Some provide nectar for adult bees to feed on and turn into honey. Others are a source of pollen for bees to feed their larva. Most are simple flowers with open structure. Bees favour these over those with double flowers that contain little or no nectar or pollen and those with tightly closed flowers that are difficult to enter.



Shrubs

Ceanothus 'Autumnal Blue'
Californian Lilac 'Autumnal Blue': Glossy evergreen foliage. Rounded heads of light blue flowers from July to September on a shrub up to 2.5-3 metres tall. Good wall/fence shrub.

Ceanothus 'Blue Mound'
Californian Lilac 'Blue Mound': Glossy evergreen foliage clothed in late spring by deep blue flowers. Forms a mound up to 1m or more high with a spread of some 2m.

Lavandula angustifolia
True Lavender: A compact lavender with grey-green linear leaves. Purple flower spikes produced above the plant on green stalks open in June and continue into July. Grows to a height of 1 metre with a similar spread.

Lavandula angustifolia 'Hidcote'
Lavender 'Hidcote': Dwarf growing compact form up to 60cm. Silvery grey-green leaves with flower spikes of deep violet-blue from June.

Lavandula x intermedia 'Grosso'
English Lavender 'Grosso': A strong growing form up to 60-80cm, with blue flowers on long stems in June.

Rosa arvensis
Field Rose: A scrambling, suckering, native shrub with green, toothed leaflets. White, sometimes pink-tinged flowers are produced in June and July with the red fruit referred to as 'hips' appearing in October. The hips are held after the leaves drop, although they are a source of food for birds. Reaches around 2 metres high with some form of support with a spread to 2.5 metres.

Rosa canina
Dog Rose: The Native Dog Rose has white or more usually pink, single scented flowers followed by red hips on vigorous thorny stems.

Rosa 'Fire Meidiland'
Rose 'Fire Meidiland': Glossy green foliage; red flowers from late spring through to autumn. Vigorous and upright with arching branches giving a rounded outline

Rosa glauca
Redleaf Rose: Also known as Rosa rubrifolia, this strong growing, bushy rose has glaucous leaflets, pink-tinged. Dusky, deep-pink single flowers are followed by red-brown hips in autumn.

Rosa 'Hertfordshire'
Rose 'Hertfordshire': A compact groundcover rose from the County Series with single carmine flowers from summer through to autumn.

Rosa 'Pride Meidiland'
Rose 'Pride Meidiland': Relatively tall ground cover, vigorous, producing numerous pink flowers with faded white centres. Useful for slopes and banks.

Rosa rugosa
Japanese Rose: A strong growing, tough, deciduous shrub with dark green leaves made up of oval leaflets held on very prickly stems. Fresh light green leaves when young, turn yellow in autumn. Single, fragrant magenta flowers with a yellow centre of stamens are produced throughout the summer from June followed by large, red and orange-red, rounded hips which are held well into the winter, although becoming shrivelled. Spreads via suckers to form dense clumps. Grows to a height of 1.5 to 2 metres high with a 2+ metre spread.

Rosa xanthina 'Canary Bird'
Rose 'Canary Bird': Fern-like leaves, grey-green with canary-yellow flowers from late May into June. Grows to a height of 3m with a spread to 4m.

Viburnum tinus
Laurustinus: The Laurustinus is a medium to large evergreen shrub, producing pink budded white flower clusters from autumn to spring. Blue-black berries by autumn. Good in sun or semi-shade.

Viburnum tinus 'Eve Price'
Laurustinus 'Eve Price': A more compact, dense growing form with more pink in the buds and flowers. Blue-black berries by autumn.

Herbaceous

Achillea 'Fanal'
Yarrow 'Fanal': Low growing perennial with finely divided linear foliage coloured greyish-green. Flat bright red flower-heads spotted yellow on stout stems in June up to 75cm high with a 60cm spread.

Achillea filipendulina 'Gold Plate'
Fernleaf Yarrow 'Gold Plate': Clump forming evergreen herbaceous perennial with finely divided, aromatic, hairy grey-green foliage. From June to August produces large, flat bright golden yellow flower-heads on stout stems. Grows to a height of 120cm with a spread of 45cm.

Achillea millefolium 'Paprika'
Milfoil 'Paprika': Clump forming perennial with finely divided, aromatic, hairy grey-green foliage. From June into September produces flat orange-red flower-heads with tiny yellow centres on stout stems. Flower colour fades with age. Grows to a height and a spread of 40-60cm.

Achillea millefolium 'Summer Pastels'
Milfoil 'Summer Pastels': Clump forming perennial with finely divided, aromatic, hairy grey-green foliage. From June to August produces flat flower-heads in pale shades of pink, apricot and white on stout stems. Flower colour fades with age. Grows to a height of 60cm and a spread of 50cm.

Achillea 'Terracotta'
Yarrow 'Terracotta': Clump forming perennial with finely divided aromatic grey-green foliage. Grows to a height of 90cm. From June August produces flat brownish-orange flower-heads which fade to pale yellow.

Agastache 'Black Adder'
Giant Hyssop 'Black Adder': Recent research shows this plant is the favoured source of nectar for Honey Bees. The plant produces an abundance of sweet nectar which bees make a bee-line for once discovered by the hive.

Aquilegia McKana Hybrids
Columbine McKana Hybrids: The long spurred flowers occur in a range of shades, including bicolour, borne on 60cm purple-flushed green stems in late spring and early summer. Leaflets green. very popular with bumbble bees

Aster x frikartii 'Wonder of Stafa'
Aster 'Wonder of Stafa': Foliage dark green. Light violet-blue with orange-yellow centres produced towards the end of July through to September. Upright plant with a height of 70cm and a spread of 40cm. Late summer flowering plant is good for late flying insect pollinators

Aster 'Little Carlow'
Blue Wood Aster 'Little Carlow': This hybrid forms a dense bushy clump with green leaves on upright stems. An abundance of lilac-blue daisy-like flowers with yellow centres ageing to dark red are produced in September to October. Grows to 100cm.

Astilbe 'Granat'
False Goatsbeard 'Granat': This Astilbe x arendsii hybrid forms a clump of serrated glossy green leaves with crimson-red upright flower plumes from July to August. Grows to a height of 50-60cm with the flowers and has a spread of 40-45cm. Ideal for planting alongside water bodies.

Campanula carpatica ‘Dark Blue Clips’
Carpathian Bellflower 'Dark Blue Clips': Short growing ground cover Campanula favoured by bum,ble bees and honey bees alike. One of the best sources of nectar for bees.

Centaurea montana
Mountain Knapweed: A spreading perennial forming clumps with ovate to lance-shaped green leaves. Blue flowers with purple centres on green hairy stems from May to through June. Attractive to butterflies and bees. Grows to a height of 60cm with a 60cm spread.

Echinops ritro
Globe Thistle: A clump-forming perennial with deeply-cut, spiny, dark green leaves downy underneath. Metallic bluish-violet spiky globe-shaped flowers on branching stems are produced above the foliage in July to September. The globes remain to form seed heads. Attractive to butterflies. Grows to a height of 100-120cm with a spread of 40-50cm.

Eryngium bourgatii
a Sea Holly: An eye-catching clump-forming perennial with deeply cut green leaves, clearly veined. Blue-green thistle-like flower heads with deeply cut silver veined basal bracts of the same colour on upward branching steel blue stems from the end of June through to August. Grows to 45-60cm high with a spread of 30cm. Very striking!

Eryngium x tripartitum
a Sea Holly: A clump-forming perennial with toothed, dark green leaves. Small metallic-blue cone-shaped flower heads with silvery-blue bracts on upward multi-headed blue stems are produced in July to September. Grows up to 60cm with a spread of 50cm.

Helenium or Sneazeweed
Many of the Helenium's are attractive to bees and butterflies as well as a host of other insect pollinators such as Hover Flies. There area wide variety available some early summer flowering but many are mid or late summer into the autumn flowering which offer a great source of nectar late in the season.

Helleborus niger
Christmas Rose: Virtually evergreen foliage, clump-forming with dark green and leathery, which sets off the large saucer-shaped white flowers sometimes tinged strong pink, with yellow stamens, from December to March. Needs neutral or limey moist soil as well as shade from full sun. Grows 30cm high. good nectar source for early and very late flying insect pollinators

Helleborus orientalis
Lenten Rose: The Lenten Rose has saucer-shaped flowers of various white, green and pink shades from winter to spring. Foliage leathery dark green. Generally easier to grow than Helleborus niger.

Melissa officinalis 'Aurea'
Golden Lemon Balm: This culinary herb is a deciduous perennial with green and golden-yellow, oval-pointed toothed leaves which smell of lemons, especially so when crushed. Pale yellow flowers later turning white are produced in July and August and are attractive to bees. Grows to 40 centimetres high with a 40-60 centimetre spread.

Origanum vulgare
Oregano: This culinary herb is a mound-forming, spreading perennial with very small, oval green, aromatic leaves. Terminal clusters of white to pink fragrant flowers on square, reddish-brown tinged, hairy upright green stems are produced in July through to early September which are attractive to bees. Grows to 50 centimetres high with a 60-90 centimetre spread. Reported to be one of the best sources of nectar for bees.

Origanum vulgare 'Aureum'
Golden Marjoram: This culinary herb is a low growing, spreading semi-evergreen perennial forming mounds of very small, bright golden-yellow, aromatic leaves. Terminal clusters of pink fragrant flowers on square, reddish-brown tinged, upright yellow stems are produced in July through to early September which is attractive to bees. Grows to 20-30 centimetres high with a 30 centimetre spread.

Pulmonaria angustifolia 'Munstead Blue'
Narrow-leaved Lungwort 'Munstead Blue': A low growing semi-evergreen or possibly deciduous perennial forming green clumps with ovate-shaped leaves. Deep blue funnel-shaped flowers on short upright stems are produced in March and April. Grows to a height of 30cm with a 45cm spread. A good early spring nectar source for bees.

Pulmonaria rubra 'Redstart'
Lungwort 'Redstart': An early flowerer with rosy-red funnel-shaped flowers on short green upright stems in late February or early March to April. Produces low growing clumps with ovate-shaped green leaves, pale green when first emerge. Grows to a height of 30cm with a 60cm spread.

Salvia elegans 'Tangerine Sage'
Tangerine Sage: This culinary sage can be classed as an herbaceous perennial forming mounds of green, pointed, hairy leaves which smell strongly of tangerine especially when crushed, hence the common name. Red tubular flowers on square, hairy, upright bronzed stems are produced from July to September. Grows to a height of 90cm high with a 100cm spread.

Salvia x superba
Sage: An upward branching, clump-forming perennial with lance-shaped green leaves. Purple flower spikes are produced from June to September. Grows to a height of 70-90cm high with a 40-60cm spread.

Salvia x sylvestris 'Mainacht'
Sage 'Mainacht': An upright, clump-forming perennial with square, slightly hairy, green stems and green, shiny leaves. Violet flower spikes are produced above the leaves in June to August. Grows to 45-50cm high, reaching 60-70cm to the tops of the flower spikes. Spread is to 40-45cm.

Sedum Spectable
Great autumn source of pollen and nectar when most other plants have finished flowering

Solidago 'Cloth of Gold'
Golden Rod 'Cloth of Gold': Tall upright perennial and a good source of nectar for insects.

Symphytum officinale
Common Comfrey: broad leaved perennial producing flowers attractive to bees. Deep tap roots allow it to grow in poor soils. The leaves can be made into a liquid plant feed.

Thymus x citriodorus
Lemon Thyme: This culinary herb is a low-growing, mound-forming, bushy evergreen perennial with very small, green, lemon-scented leaves. Numerous pink flowers are produced in June-July which are attractive to butterflies and bees. Drought tolerant. Grows to 20-30cm high with a 25-30cm spread. Thyme is not only a good nectar source for bees but chemicals found in Thyme are proven to help bees under sytress from Varroa mite infestation. Many bee keepers feed their bees syrup with essence of thymol to boost the bees immune system.

Thymus x citriodorus 'Aureus'
Golden Thyme: This culinary herb is a low-growing, mound-forming, bushy evergreen perennial with very small, golden-yellow and green, lemon scented leaves which are brightest when fresh from emerging in spring. Numerous pink flowers are produced in June-July which are attractive to butterflies and bees. Drought tolerant. Grows to 20cm high with a 20-25cm spread.

Thymus x citriodorus 'Bertram Anderson'
Lemon Thyme 'Bertram Anderson': This herb is a low-growing, mound-forming, bushy evergreen perennial with very small, golden-yellow and green, lemon scented leaves which are brightest and red-tinged when fresh from emerging in spring. Numerous pink flowers are produced in June-July which are attractive to butterflies and bees. Drought tolerant. Grows to 10cm high with a 20-25cm spread.

Thymus x citriodorus 'Silver Queen'
Lemon Thyme 'Silver Queen': This herb is a low-growing, mound-forming, bushy evergreen perennial with very small, green and cream-edged, lemon scented leaves. Numerous pale purple flowers are produced in June-July which are attractive to butterflies and bees. Drought tolerant. Grows to 15cm high with a 20-25cm spread.

Thymus doerfleri 'Bressingham Pink'
Thyme 'Bressingham Pink': This creeping Thyme forms a dense mat of tiny dark green, aromatic leaves. Pink flowers are produced in June-July which are attractive to butterflies and bees. Drought tolerant. Grows to 10cm high with a 25cm spread.

Verbena bonariensis
Argentinian Vervain: A semi-transparent perennial, just frost-hardy with upright, tall, square green stems, tinged red when young. Green leaves are oblong to lance-shaped and toothed, also red-tinged when young. Pinkish-violet purple flowers are produced in clusters at the top of the stems in June right through to November in London. Grows to 1.75 to 2 metres high with a spread of only 35-45cm.

Armeria maritima
Sea Thrift: Flowers in late spring through to the summer.

Mallow
A perennial whose Barbie pink flowers are a magnet for bees. Produces copious amounts of pollen. Often grows wild on London's brownfield sites and easy to grow from seed.

Phacelia tanacetifolia
An annual often grown for use as a green manure. The flowers are attractive to bees.

Bulbous

Crocus
small cormous herbaceous perennial with linear green leaves with a silvery-white midrib is an early spring floweringplant. Ysmall species crocus are better than the showy large bloomed varieties.

Narcissus
Daffodil: strong growing bulbous perennial has initially upright, strap-like green leaves. Clusters of very long-lasting flowers with a golden-yellow trumpet and slightly arched-back outer petals are produced from the end of February-March. These can soon be followed by green seed pods. Leaves die down by the end of June. Ideal for naturalising. Grows to a height of 15cm. Avoid double headed and showy types which have less nectar.

Anemone blanda
Gorgeous blue-purple flowers which track the sun across the sky and flower from February to March are a magnet for early emerging honey bees. On a recent visit to a garden centre in neasden vast numbers of honey and bumble bees were seen foraging on a display stand filled with these palnts.

Wildflowers

Digitalis purpurea
Foxglove: A biennial forming a rosette of large hairy veined green leaves in the first year. In the second year, one-sided flower spikes on tall, upright stalks are produced from early June to July. Individual tubular-shaped flowers in shades of pink, purple and white spotted purple within open in succession from the base upwards. Very small dark brown seeds are then produced in quantity and thus will spread rapidly unless dead-headed after flowering. Ideal for the woodland situation and popular with bumble bees. The Foxglove has a spread of 30-40cm with the flower spike reaching to a height of 100-150cm. TIP: cut down the seed heads before they mature once most of the flowers have passed to force a second flush of flowers. The second flush will not be as spectacular as the primary flowering but will provide bees with nectar for several weeks a few weeks after the cut.

Echium vulgare
Viper's Bugloss: A stiffly hairy biennial with narrow green pointed leaves. Bright blue flowers starting out pink in bud are borne on upright spikes above the leaves in June to September. Attractive to bees and other insects. Occurs on dry, light calcareous soils on coastal dunes, sea cliffs, grassland as well as roadsides. Drought tolerant. Grows to 70cm high with the flowers. One of the best sources of nectar for bees.

Myosotis arvensis
Field Forget-me-not: Description to be provided and not yet included in a search. Send a 'Request?' to have this work assigned the highest priority. If images are not displayed they may still be available. Send a 'Request?' if required. Early flowerring plant good nectar source in spring.

Papaver rhoeas
Common Poppy: A bristly haired annual with small, toothed to deeply cut green leaves. Wiry erect stems bear solitary flowers which in bud droop down becoming upright when open scarlet with or without a black centre in June to August. Flowers followed by oval, green seed casings with a brown lined flat top filled with an abundance of tiny rounded seeds which are very long lasting. A long-standing weed in corn fields until the introduction of herbicides. Occurs on disturbed ground including roadsides and waste places. Reaches a height of 60cm.

Thymus polytrichus
Wild Thyme: good nectar source for bees with many health benefits for the bees as well.

Valeriana officinalis
Common Valerian: A good source of nectar attractive to insect pollinators.

Garden Annuals

Cosmos
Annual daisy like flowers in a variety of colors. Great source of nectar and pollen.

Linaria
Annual flower, popular in bedding displays - don't go for the bedding types but the taller upright less showy forms

Lantana
small half hardy shrub, prolific producer of nectar invaluable to bees and butterflies. Requires a sheltered, warm sunny position. Can be raised in pots and over wintered in green house or a poly tunnel. Widely planted in the southern united states and sub tropical regions where they attract clouds of bees and butterflies.

Sun Flower
tall upright annual with large flowers in red, orange and yellow.

Borage
Low growing annual, blue flowers are a prolific source of nectar and favoured by Honey Bees. Second only to Agastache in terms of popularity with honey bees.

Bee-friendly Flowers

Genus

Species

Cultivar

Common name

Agastache

anisata

 

 

Agastache

foeniculum




 

Alcea

rosea

Halo White

Hollyhock

Allium

 

 

 

Allium

schoenoprasum

 

Chives

Anemone

japonica

 

 

Antirrhinum

majus




 

Antirrhinum

nanum

Frosted Flame

 

Aquilegia

caerulea

 

 

Aster




 

 

Borago

officinalis

 

Borage

Buddleja

davidii

Mixed

 

Calendula

officinalis

 

English marigold

Campanula

 

 

 

Centaurea

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Cornflower

Centaurea

cyanus

 

Cornflower

Cosmos

bipinnatus




Cosmos

Cosmos

sulphureus

Ladybird Lemon

Cosmos

Cynara

cardunculus

 

 

Delphinium




Delphinium

 

Digitalis

 

 

Foxglove

Dipsacus

sylvestris

 

Teasel

Echinops

ruthenicus

 

Globe Thistle

Echium

pinnana

Viper's Bugloss

 

Echium

vulgare

Blue Bedder

 

Eryngium

 

 

Sea Holly

Eupatorium

maculatum

Atropurpureum




Geranium

pratense

 

Meadow Cranesbill

Heilanthus

annuus

 

Sunflower

Hypericum

perforatum

 

St John's Wort

Hyssopus

officinalis

Tricolour Mixed

Hyssop

Knautia

macedonica

Melton Pastels




Lathyrus

odoratus

 

Sweet Pea

Lavandula

augustifolia

Hidcote

Lavender

Lavandula

stoechas

 

Lavender

Limnanthes

douglasii

 

Poached Egg plants

Lunaria

annua

Honesty

 

Lupinus

 

 

Lupin

Melissa

officinalis

 

Lemon Balm

Mentha

 

 

Mint

Monarda

astromontana

Bee's Favourite

Bergamot

Monarda

didyma

Superb Mixed

Bergamot

Nasturtium

majus

 

 

Nepeta

cataria

 

Cat Mint

Origanum

majorana

 

Sweet Marjoram

Papaver

bracteatum

 

.

Papaver

rhoeas

Flanders

Field Poppy

Papaver

orientale

Brilliant




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Phacelia

viscida

 

Scorpion Weed

Polemonium

boreale

Heavenly Habit

Jacob's Ladder

Potentilla

thurberi amorubens

Monarch's Velvet

Cinquefoil

Rosmarinus

officinalis

 

Rosemary

Salvia

officinalis

 

Sage

Salvia

transylvanica

 




Scabiosa

caucasica

House's Novelty Mixed

Scabious

Scabiosa

atropurpurea

 

Scabious

Symphytum

officinale

 




Thymus

vulgaris

Old English

Thyme

Trifolium

rubens

 

 

Verbena

bonariensis

 

.

Bee-friendly Fruit and Vegetable Varieties

Genus

Species

Cultivar

Common name

Chaenomeles

Vranja

 

Quince

Cynara

 

 

Globe Artichoke

Malus

 

Red Sentinel




Malus

 

Cox's Orange Pippin

Apple

Phaseolus

 

Desiree

Runner Bean

Prunus

 

Robijn

Almond

Prunus

 

Sunburst




Prunus

 

Victoria

Plum

Pyrus

 

Conference

Pear

Rubus

 

Loch Ness

Blackberry

Ribes

 

Invicta

Gooseberry

Rubus

 

 

Raspberry

Rubus

 

 

Loganberry

Vicia

 

Masterpiece Green




SPRING - SUMMER GARDEN PLANTS FOR BEES


During the Spring and Summer, all types of bees (and other pollinating insects) are rearing their broods. 

A typical honey bee colony may consist of around 50,000 to 60,000 workers, as well as larvae to feed. 

Bumblebee colonies may be fragile - fewer than half survive, and solitary bees are in need of undisturbed nesting sites, as food is gathered for storing in egg cells to feed newly developing larvae. 

Plenty of bee friendly plants are therefore vital during the Spring and summer to ensure survival of the colony.


Forget-me-not (Myosotis)

Foxglove (Digitalis)


Bistort
Crane’s-bill (Geranium)


Poppy (Papaver)


Chives
Bugle (Ajuga)


Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus acris)


Borage officinalis


Crocus
Comfrey (Malus)


Honey Suckle (Lonicera)


Passion Flower (Passiflora)


Muscari



Thyme


Sweetpea (Lathyrus)


Campanula


Lupin (Lupinus)


Rosa rugosa


Sea Holly (Eryngium)


Columbine (Aquilegia)


Penstemon


Salvia


Hebe



Allium


Agapanthus



SUMMER – AUTUMN GARDEN PLANTS FOR BEES


During the late summer and autumn, these plants will continue to feed late developing broods, as well as those bees that have already developed into working adults.

Note that himalayan balsam (pictured left) is a controversial plant in the UK, where it is not native, however, pollinators adore it for the ample nectar it provides. It is thought that it may be invasive, but please see my page about native versus non native plants for further information. 

On the other hand, Scorpion Weed is also not native to the UK, but many do enjoy growing it in the garden. It also attracts bees and other pollinators.

I would definitely encourage you to grow

cornflowers,

solidago,

lavender and scabious in your garden. They are great bee attracting plants! 



Scorpion Weed (Phacelia tanacetifolia)


Purple Loosestrife


Sedum


Golden Rod (Solidago)




Cornflower


Red Hot Poker (Knifophia)


Veronica


Salvia



Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) 
Salvia


Verbascum


Scabious


Sunflower 


Lavender


Watermint 


Snapdragon (Antirrhinum)


Nepeta (Catmint)


Bugle (Ajuga)


Bergenia 


Hellebores 


Hollyhock 


Bergamot


Himalayan Balsam (Impatiens) 


Verbena
Raspberry (especially the Autumn raspberry)

AUTUMN - WINTER GARDEN PLANTS FOR BEES


Ivy (hedera helix) is loathed by some, but it is one of the few plants for bees that aid survival of the late foragers. The pollination of ivy then allows berries to develop, thus feeding a number of birds over the winter months, as well as providing excellent shelter. Research has shown that trees with ivy growing up them accomodate more wildlife than those without. Instead of assuming that all ivy must be cut away, it is better to be pragmatic about it. Investigate first whether it is really causing any damage. Most healthy trees can withstand at least some ivy growth before being cut back. The wildlife will appreciate it!



Ivy hedera helix
Mint (Mentha)
Oregano (Origanum)
Autumn raspberries
Viburnum 
Common Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

Good bee plants provide excellent sources of nectar or pollen – and even better if they provide both. For this reason, some highly cultivated ornamental plants are not necessarily very useful for bees, primarily because they contain little nectar or pollen. Impatiens (Bizzy Lizzie), very garish, highly cultivated petunias and begonias, and even hydrangea (apart from hydrangea paniculata) offer little value.

Instead, go for traditional bedding plants such as campanulas, aubretia, bluebells, primroses and crocuses, lavenders, and shrubs such as ceanothus. Ensure you have plants flowering late into the season as well as early flowering varieties loved by bees and other wildlife. 

Check out this calendarised list of plants for bees, and my general introduction page about bee plants.

Mahonia –



Narcissus pseudonarcissus)


Genista
Dicentra
Pulmonaria (Lungwort)


Gorse (Ulex)


Rosemary (Rosemarinus)


Flowering Currant (Ribes)


Primrose (Primula vulgaris)


Bluebell (Choose native varieties)
not Spanish.

Cowslip (Choose native varieties)


Snakeshead (Fritillaria meleagris)


Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima,

Lonicera purpusii)


Barberry (Berberis) (Lamium)


Bugle (Ajuga)


Ground Ivy
Snowdrops (Galanthes) – single flowered varieties


Winter Heathers (Erica carnea)


Lenten rose ( Helleborus orientalis)



Plant in Groups

Ideally, when you are creating a bee garden, you should position your bee plants in groups. Swathes of butterfly and bee attracting plants are easier for our little pollinators to locate. Importantly, it also conserves vital energy stores, meaning more nectar and pollen can be returned to the colony.






Include WildflowersA bee garden should ideally include at least a few wildflowers in the border. Here is a list of wildflowers for bees. Or if you have space, then why not.....

SPRING & SUMMER WILDFLOWERS FOR BEES




Red Campion (pictured left)


Bird’s Foot Trefoil (long season)


Bugle (Ajuga)


Comfrey


Selfheal 


Poppy


Cowslip



Vetches 


Dandelion


Dead-nettle (red and white
Foxglove


Yellow Rattle 


Cat’s ear 


Angelica 


Red Bartsia 


Ground Ivy 


Woundwort
Betony

SUMMER & AUTUMN WILDFLOWERS FOR BEES



Clovers (red & white)


Bird’s Foot Trefoil


Bramble 


Comfrey


Burdock



Teasels


Knapweed 


Vetches 


Cornflower 


Thistles 


Field Scabious 


Viper’s Bugloss


Cat’s ear 


Angelica 


Red Bartsia


Sainfoin

AUTUMN & WINTER WILDFLOWER PLANTS FOR BEES 


Ivy 


Devils’ bit

scabious



Create a Wildflower Meadow

You may be able to create this as a small patch, but if you have the space, why not create a wildflower meadow?


How About a Flowering Lawn?If you cannot create a meadow from scratch in your garden, including taller meadow flowers, a good compromise is to allow clover to flourish, and smaller wild flowers to pop up here and there, such as bird’s foot trefoil, self heal and vetches in patches.  These plants are so pretty, and are excellent plants for bees.   Clover is excellent on lawns too, because remains green even during very dry periods.   It is also good for the soil, and later in the year, when mown, makes a good addition to the compost.  An alternative way of creating a flowering lawn is to fill it with a ground covering herb, such as thyme, which is an excellent bee plant.  Check out lawns for bees for more ideas.



Lawns For Bees - A Few Ideas

1. Include Bulbs

Many flower bulbs provide excellent nectar and pollen sources for bees, including during winter and spring. Why not include crocuses in your lawn? For a natural effect, simply scatter them onto the ground and plant them where they fall. Alternatively, do the same with daffodils and bluebells beneath a tree. Remember to choose traditional rather than double-petalled varieties. Snake's head fritillary can also look very pretty, whilst snowdrops are always a favourite.

I recommend you buy bulbs from an organic supplier. Personally, I have become increasingly concerned about the amount of neonicotinoid pesticides used in flower bulb cultivation - and indeed, in horticulture generally. Personally, I prefer to buy organic, or take cuttings from sources I trust.

Alternatively, you could develop a relationship with a nursery near you, and ask them from where they source their plants, bulbs and seeds.

Read more about flower bulbs for bees, and get further information about bulbs suitable for lawns and shade.

2. Create A Clover Lawn

I have been focusing lately on encouraging clover to spread in my lawn.  It has a number of benefits to both humans and bees!



  • bees love clover - especially bumblebee species

  • it's fragrant

  • it requires little mowing yet looks beautiful - mow 2 or 3 times a year

  • it provides good green cover during drought spells

  • eventually, the clippings when mown, are an excellent natural fertilizer for other plants in your garden.  You can also use the clippings as a mulch.



3. Mixed Low Growing Flower Patches

There are other low-growing wildflowers that bees like, that might grow in your lawn: lesser celandines, self heal, and bird's foot trefoil, for example.



4. Create A Herb Lawn

Herbs can provide fragrance and colour, and for bees I recommend a thyme lawn.



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Plant a Wildlife Hedgerow

A hedgerow is an excellent addition to any bee garden.  A flowering hedgerow especially, is a boon to all types of bees (honey bees, solitary bees, bumblebees), pollinators and other wildlife.  Birds may nest in them, bees, butterflies and other insects may enjoy the nectar from the flowers, whilst birds and small mammals may benefit from berries.  Ideally, a bumblebee may find an abandoned rodent hole at the base of the fence – this is a favourite nest site for many types of bumblebees.

LATE WINTER - SPRING shrubs, hedgerows and trees for bees:


Mahonia
Acacia (A. dealbata & A. longifolia)


Cherry Plum - Myrobalan (Prunus cerasifera)


Pussy Willow (Salix) - these are great trees for bees, as they provide an early source of pollen


Ribes (Flowering Currant)


Broom (Genista)


Alder (Alnus glutinosa) 


Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) 


Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)


Winter Honeysuckle ¨C climber great for hedgerows (Lonicera fragrantissima and L. x purpussii) 


Alnus (A. cordata; A.incana;


  1. glutinosa) 


  2. Hazels - Corylus (C. avellana, C. maxima) ¨C again, great trees for bees - especially for pollen
Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)

Take a look at my list of trees, shrubs and hedgerow plants to attract bees.



Create Sites for Nests in your Bee Garden

Whether or not you are keeping bees, even so, you can create nesting sites for wild bee species.   Bee nests are welcomed by gardeners who know they now have some of nature’s little helpers to pollinate the plants.  Creating a bumblebee nest box that attracts bumblebees can be difficult, although it is possible to do.  Try an upturned teapot or plant pot beneath the garden shed. Often the best course of action is simply to provide ideal surroundings and areas in which they might possibly create a nest.  It is significantly easier to create a solitary bee house, and this can be achieved at a very small cost with a few hollow canes.

Water and Mud!Bees need water for drinking whilst some bees, such as mason bees, use mud for constructing their nests.

Create a Cottage GardenA cottage garden is usually a good bee garden.   Cottage garden plants never go out of fashion.  Humans love them, and bees love them too, and better still, a typical cottage garden border is full of great plants that attract butterflies and bees.  In fact, many of the best plants for bees can be found in traditional cottage garden borders, and it’s possible to place a few taller wild flower specimens in the border too, such as cornflower, knapweed (actually a beautiful plant), teasels and foxgloves.


Make Space for HerbsMany herbs are excellent bee plants, and of course, are enjoyed by humans.   Rosemary provides a useful source of nectar during the winter, borage oozes nectar in the summer.   Marjoram, chives, lemon balm and so many herbs are great plants for bees and butterflies – do take a look at my section about herb plants for bees.





Inspire the Kids!Creating a bee garden is a great project for kids to get involved in.  There are many wonderful plants and activities that are inspiring for children. Children love sunflowers, as do bees and birds.  And there is so much more that can be done! Inspiring children in the early years to create a garden – even if it’s just a small patch – can encourage them to take interest in, and learn about the natural world.  I have never forgotten that my love of bees and other wildlife, began when I was a child, spending many happy hours in the garden with my father.


Grow Your Own Organic Fruit and Vegetables!Yes, a bee garden can include home grown produce too, so why not help the bees, and put food on your plate at the same time?   Many fruit and vegetable plants attract bees, whilst cross pollination by bees increases crop yield. Everyone wins!  Take a look at my page about bee-friendly fruit and vegetables.

Install a Green RoofGreen roofs can be added to homes, garages, but even sheds. They can be filled with bee attracting plants, from wildflowers to succulents, especially sedums.





Include Different Flower Shapes In Your Flower BordersDifferent bees are attracted to different flowers, so a good bee garden should include a variety. Some bees can manage plants with tubular florets, such as foxgloves, whilst others prefer more open varieties. Remember to include a range of flowering plants with different shaped florets.  Read more about different flower shapes in your flower borders here.


Native Garden Plants vs Non-native Garden PlantsI am often asked whether a bee garden should consist only of native garden plants. There is no doubt that native garden plants are very beneficial to the indigenous wildlife of a country. However, there are many introduced plants that are highly beneficial to bees and butterflies too, as well as other pollinators. For example, buddleia is loved by bees, hoverflies and butterflies alike, and is very easy to grow in the garden.

Create A Mini Bee Garden With Raised Beds And Planters For Bees 
If you are disabled, or perhaps in a wheelchair, or if you are planning a community garden suitable for wheelchair access,  it may be that creating raised beds is the solution.  Why not create a bee-friendly herb garden in a raised bed, a raised wildflower pollinator bed, or planters filled with cottage garden flowers?


Likewise, you may have a large area of decking, or have restricted space on a balcony, but even here there are opportunities for pots and planters.  Imagine planters filled with cornflowers or lavender and thyme!  We'd have mini-feeding stations for bees! For some inspiration have a look a this gallery of raised beds and decking.



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Think twice about using pesticidesTake into account that if a bumblebee queen perishes before rearing new queens and males at the end of the season, a whole future generation of bumblebees is lost. With extinctions and drastic declines already, we cannot afford to lose more of our bumblebees. Butterflies are suffering too.  Neonicotinoids are of particular concern, and are present in many common household garden pesticides. Read more about how neonicotinoids work.  Remember, we used to manage before these were introduced onto the market – do we need them now?





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