Home / Getting Started in Beekeeping / Getting to Know the Bee Friendly Plants

Getting to Know the Bee Friendly Plants

A bee friendly garden is not only important for the beekeeper but it is also essential for farmers and homeowners who have crops. Bees not only benefit from the flowering garden but they also help to pollinate the plants. This is why bees are so important – they are a crucial component of the plant reproductive process, Some of the crucial times when pollen is required is during: nest growth, fattening of the queen in readiness for hibernation, establishment of the nest by the queen, and when new queens and males are being produced by the nest.

An ideal garden should at least have 2 kinds of bee friendly plants at any given flowering season. However, you can plant more if you like since the more the suitable flowering plants available the better. Nonetheless, you have to ensure what you plant does not escape into the wild.

Things to Remember

Some plant species are known for escaping from the garden and invading nearby wild habitats. For instance, both the Himalayan balsam and Rhododendron ponticum should be avoided.

Some plants have flowers with shapes that are not easily accessible by the bees. Some of these examples include petals that have long tunnels and are too long or narrow. Furthermore, those with various tightly-packed heads make it difficult for the birds to access food.

There are various plants that appear to be bee friendly due to their pleasing appearance but actually have little to offer. Such flowers may never be suitable for the bees since they produce little or no pollen and nectar. These include plants such as double begonias and pansies.

Never use pesticides on your garden. Most of them have been labeled as “bug killers” or any other similar name. Using such chemicals may harm the bees even if it might not be your intention to do so. You can avoid using chemicals to control pests by simply planting specific plants on your garden. Bees are very sensitive to pesticides even if it is an organic pesticide and therefore you should embrace cultural control techniques. Some of these include: hand-picking, crop rotation, trapping, row covers, and many others. Never ever use pesticides on open blossoms or apply it when the bees or other pollinators are present.

The Flowers that Bees Love

Some of the plants that bees love include the following:

  • Agastache or anise hyssop
  • Echinacea or coneflower
  • Geranium or cranesbill
  • Monarda or bee balm
  • Papaver or poppies
  • Trifolium or clover
  • Shrubby veronica or Hebe
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Borage or Borago
  • Rudebeckia or black-eyed Susan

Wild and Native Flowers

It is wise to plant both wildflowers and native species. Wild bees evolved together with wild flowers and therefore the bees will benefit immensely when wild flowers are grown in close proximity to the hive. The wild flowers provide the best nectar and pollen.

Wild bees do not thrive best on perfectly set yards since they do not offer the necessary raw materials required for nest building. To get the best habitat for your bees, preserve a small bush pile or an area with reeds, dry grass or dead wood. Mason bees in particular prefer a muddy area since that is where they get important nesting material.

Single vs Double Flowers

If choosing between single or double flowers go for the single flowers. Those that have one ring of petals produce more pollen and nectar than double flowers. For the latter, the extra petals replace pollen-laden anthers. Another problem with double flowers is that it makes it difficult for bees to get an access to the inner parts of the flower. The single flowers are the best sources of food for the bees.

What about the Color of Flowers?

Flowers are available in different colors and each has a different effect on the bees. Some of the colors that appeal to the bees are blue, purple and yellow. Flowers such as zinnias, Queen Anne’s lace, daisies, and asters attract a wide variety of bees. These flowers offer flat or shallow blossoms. As for flowers such as salvia, oregano, lavender, and nepeta which belong to the mint family attract long-tongued bees. Some other flowers such as larkspur, columbine, monkshood, snapdragons, and monarda are preferred by long-tongued bumblebees.

Is Beekeeping for Everyone?

If you are a gardener who is only interested in getting an appealing garden, then you may wonder whether it is possible for you keep your own bees. Well, beekeeping can be important for two reasons. First off, you do not have to ever worry about pollination of the garden. Pollination in simple terms refers to the process that involves the transfer of pollen from one flower to another flower of the same species. The pollen transfer facilitates fertilization which then kick-start the process of fruit and seed formation. There are many pollinators including self-pollination. Others include insects, bats, birds, and other living creatures. Bees are the best pollinators.

The importance of good pollination cannot be ignored. Well pollinated plants give large, healthy and viable fruits. But poorly pollinated ones give deformed fruits which in most cases fall off before maturity. Since the honeybee is the best pollinator then why not go for the best. Apiculture can be done as a hobby for as long as it is allowed within your state and as long as you adhere to the guidelines laid down.

The second reason to start beekeeping for those with gardens is of course the honey. You enjoy the immense health benefits of the sweet honey without paying a dime all within the comfort of your own homestead.

A Final Word

There are quite a number of bee friendly plants out there. You should choose the right combination of plant species. As a general rule, an ideal garden should provide pollen and nectar-rich, bee friendly plants from spring till late summer. This is the only way to ensure there is a good supply of pollen all through the most demanding times.

Next Topic: Bee Pests and Parasites >