For decades, wild pollinator populations have been in decline. Fortunately, you can do your part for the bees that live in your area without becoming a full blown beekeeper! Planting a diverse array of flowers for bees has been shown to help bee colonies thrive and stay healthy. The more different types of flowers you can plant the better! These are 10 of the best flowers for bees.
Crocuses are a small, flowering perennial plant that comes in a wide variety of colors like yellow, purple, and white. They flower early in the spring, often pushing up through the snow to reach sunlight. Because these flowers bloom so early, they serve as an important early food source for bees waking up to warmer weather. Once planted, crocuses will slowly spread, eventually creating bunches of early spring flowers that finish blooming by April.
Dandelions are also early spring flowers, making them as important as crocuses for bees as they emerge from hibernation. When it comes to dandelions, it’s less about intentionally propagating and more about leaving them be. They are commonly considered to be a weed, but are still crucial for pollinators in need of food early in the spring.
Bee balm is a flower that, as you might expect, attracts bees and other pollinators. They are prolific bloomers that grow well in full sun. In late autumn, you can cut these perennial flowers back within several inches of the ground and they’ll come back even bushier in the spring. Bee balm does not spread very aggressively, but you can divide up the plants every three or four years to propagate new plants.
Lavender is a delightful herb to have growing around your home for its smell and beautiful flowers. It’s said that lavender can help treat anxiety, which is always a plus. It’s also a great plant for pollinators. It’s a tough plant that flowers prolifically and will come back year after year. If you live in areas with harsh winters, you may need to keep your lavender in pots and bring inside in the cooler winter months.
Chives are another great herb to keep in your garden. They can be used in a variety of dishes and send up beautiful, round, pink flowers throughout the summer. Bees love these flowers, but beware: if you let them go to seed, your lavender will gladly spread and take over your garden. Not a bad thing for the bees though!
Sunflowers are an iconic plant. They grow to enormous heights and produce large, sun-like flowers that pollinators go wild for. When the sunflower is done flowering, you can harvest the seeds to cook for a snack or save for next year. Sunflowers are a must for any flower garden and very helpful to bees.
Zinnias are a favorite flower for honey bees. They tend to grow fairly low to the ground and produce a colorful variety of round, puffy looking flowers. Zinnias are heavy flowerers, providing lots of opportunity for hungry bees to collect pollen for their hives.
Russian sage may be one of the best flowers for bees and other local pollinators. It’s also drought tolerant, making it great for arid environments. The plants grow into large bushes and are absolutely covered in blue, purple flowers. Look more closely at a Russian sage plant in flower and you’ll see that it is teeming with activity. It’s also pleasantly fragrant for us!
Thyme is a hardy, attractive perennial herb that breaks out in small white, pink, and purple flowers that bees love. Like chives, thyme will often spread if allowed to, creating an eventual patch of the plant. It can be harvested in late summer for use in recipes as well.
Last but not least is oregano. Oregano has similar qualities to thyme and chives. It’s an herb that flowers prolifically and is very much enjoyed by honey bees and other pollinators. It’s nice to have around for recipes that call for fresh oregano, like pasta sauces and pizza.