This post was most recently updated on May 2nd, 2020
There are some plants that are beneficial for honeybees, and others that are no use to them at all. Knowing what plants are bee friendly plants that will feed and nourish the honeybees is critical to their survival. Below are 40 bee-friendly plants that honeybees love.
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Why Do We Need to Save the Honeybee?
The numbers of honeybees are really on the decline. With the rise of the varroa mite and the increase in pesticide and insecticide used, our bees are dying.
In massive numbers.
Entire hives are perishing, and they are not strong enough to regenerate.
There are some farms – like the Californian almond growers – that truck in huge numbers of bees every year, but they use so many pesticides and fungicides that the hives often just die once they have completed their task of pollinating the millions of trees (1).
Why does this matter?
Albert Einstein said “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live”
He was a smart man. Genius even. Now, I am not sure of the maths of what he said, but he can’t be far wrong.
Bees are critical pollinators: they pollinate 70 of the around 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world (2). And without them we are fairly well doomed.
We need more bee friendly plants that are without sprays to keep our bees healthy and well fed.
What Can We Do to Save the Honeybee?
All is not lost. Many people are working to prevent the extinction of the honeybee, and you can help too!
1) Provide water for them. Bees need water, especially in hot weather. A pond with a shallow edge or with waterlilies in it to give them a safe landing pad. Alternately shallow saucers of water out in the garden would help.
2) Garden organically. Avoid sprays, especially when the plants are in flower.
3) Eat more organic food. This will help encourage producers to stop spraying.
4) Grow lots of bee friendly plants.
40 Fabulous Bee Friendly Plants that Honeybees Love
Asteraceae family: asters, sunflowers, zinnias, cosmos and dandelions.
Boraginaceae family: borage, comfrey and phacelia
Brassica family: Broccoli, Cabbage, Mustard, Collards
Carrot family (Apiaceae): fennel, coriander and parsley
Fruit trees: apple, pear, citrus and plum trees.
Lamiaceae (or mint) family: basil, bee balm (monarda), catmint, lemon balm
Tips for Planting a Bee Friendly Garden
When you are growing bee friendly plants, try to plant them in large mass plantings if you can. These should be at least 1m/3ft in diameter to allow the bees to arrive and fill up before having to move on. A mass planting will also be more obvious for them to see.
Pick at least 4 different types of bee friendly plants from this list to provide food for different times of the year. Some plants like borage and lavender will flower for a very long time and the bees love them.
Blue and yellow flowering plants are the best plants for bees.
Choose old fashioned varieties with an easy to access center. Modern hybrids are often without pollen or nectar and can be difficult to navigate.
Bee friendly wildflowers are available on Amazon:
Have you planted anything specifically for the bees? Tell me about it in the comments below!
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For further reading, I also recommend all of these books. I own every one of them and they are amazing resources!