Most farmers know the importance of having beneficial pollinators, like honey bees, near the garden or farm–so much so that many farmers also become beekeepers, hosting beehives on their properties. Bees and other insects are important for pollination, especially fruit trees and bushes, like blueberry, cherries, and most stone fruit trees that cannot self-pollinate. However, maintaining beehives can be difficult for small farmers or home gardeners who have little space and little time to spare. Instead, imagine a garden full of lush, colorful blooms that are as attractive to bees as they are to us! Include the following flowers in your garden for an open invitation for
Plant calendula to attract the bees with its sweet nectar, and reap the many benefits of this beautiful flower. Calendula comes in many varieties, ranging from yellows to oranges to pale pinks. These bright blooms quickly attract the bees (and butterflies, too!) while also acting a trap for some pests, such as the leafy green destroying aphids. Not to mention, calendula is also edible, traditionally used stews and teas. Calendula is also great for making salves and adding into any bouquet, making this flower a top choice for any garden.
This flower is toxic to humans and other mammals, keeping the deer and rabbits away. But, the bees and the hummingbirds love the nectar of the foxglove! Foxgloves come in just about any color and are often grown by market gardeners as a cut-flower for spikes in bouquets. Foxgloves provide brilliant blooms to enliven any garden or farm and are easy to grow. Grow in full sun with lots of water in rich soil. If you enjoy having them around, these flowers will self-seed, providing blooms and bees for years to come.
Yarrow is a perennial herb that will bring the bees to your space starting early in the summer. Yarrow often comes in pale, pastel colors and has many uses. Most flower farmers grow yarrow for bouquets while many home gardeners use yarrow as a medicinal herb used in treating fevers, common colds, and other inflammatory-type illnesses. Yarrow is easy to care for in the garden, requiring water only in times of drought and minimal to no fertilization. This low-maintenance plant is certainly an essential in your bee garden.
Sunflowers are the highlight of most gardens, with their tall-reaching blooms that follow the sun throughout the day. Bees, too, can’t seem to stay away from the prolific pollen produced from these bloomin’ beauties. Sunflowers grow best direct seeded into well-draining soil in an area that receives full sun throughout the summer. Some varieties of sunflowers will self-seed, and you will have yourself an endlessly growing sunflower field to keep the bees comin’ over the years.
The list of bee-attracting plants does not end there. For other options, think herbs! Add lavender, mint varieties, thyme, rosemary, chives, borage, and even oregano to bring in the bees. Simply imagine herbs and flowers with attractive scents and colorful blooms, and it’s likely to be these pollinator’s dream.