Plants to feed the Bees

The inspiration for this post came from a co-worker who stopped me the other day asking if I had any suggestions on what to plant in their yard to feed the bees. I rambled on a bit as naming plants is not something I am very good at. Usually I leave that up to Mrs. Sweet Gum. But after doing some additional research maybe I didn’t do too badly.

My suggestions to the person were:

  • Plant native species
  • Stay away from hybrids
  • Go with perennials if possible
  • Go with older varieties or single flower tops
  • Consider leaving plants people consider to be weeds. Two great examples are dandelions and henbit.  
  • Choose multiple varieties so you have something in bloom as much of the year as possible

Additional suggestions are:

  • If you don’t mind not having a traditional lawn, plant low-growing clovers instead of grass.
  • Avoid using herbicides or pesticides. Use natural controls such as ladybugs, praying mantises and others for pests, and a cardboard underlayment with mulch on top to suppress weeds or manual removal.
  • Create a bee waterer. This is a shallow container of water with pebbles or twigs for the bees to land on so they do not drown.

A few good websites to use as resources are:

A word of caution: a lot of websites have lists of supposedly good plants for bees. While some of them may in fact provide a lot of nectar you would want to avoid them for other reasons. One site I came across while doing research for this had privet on it list of plants for bees. While bees do get nectar from privet, it is a highly invasive non-native plant that you want to stay away from. So take all the lists of plants with a big grain of salt and research the plants that end up on your list to plant to make sure they are not invasive and are really something that you want. Happy Planting!

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