Bees pollinate over 100 agricultural crops in the United States, including almonds, citrus, apples, melons, plums, avocadoes, cranberries, strawberries, and sunflowers. Without bees, many of our food crops would fail.
About one-third of our food crops rely on honey bees alone for pollination. But colony collapse disorder and other problems have reduced honey bee populations significantly in the last decade.
Home gardeners can help restore the honey bee population by making their gardens as bee-friendly as possible. It may sound unlikely that small home gardens could make a difference, but they can. If even half of the home gardeners around the country attracted honey bees to their gardens our food supply would be more secure.
Honey bees are good guests. They give and they take. They take protein-rich pollen back to their hives to nourish the other bees. In the process, they pollinate the flowers, which increases fruit and vegetable production.
Attract Honey Bees to Your Garden
The flowers and the arrangement of flowers in your garden are what attract honey bees and native bees. Bees like a diversity of bee-friendly flowers, with large patches of each kind of flower. They prefer a less manicured, more random garden—with weeds.
Here’s what you can do to make your garden more bee-friendly:
- Plant 10 or more types of plants that attract bees.
- Plant several of each type of plant close together, rather than planting them singly or spread out in the garden.
- Plant flowers that bloom at different times so you have pollen and nectar sources during the spring, summer, and fall.
- Do not use pesticides in or near your garden.
- Allow weeds like dandelion and white clover to flower. You can pull them up before they go to seed.
- Sink shallow pans of water in your garden. Bees need clean water, but birdbaths and pools are too deep for them.
- Leave dead tree branches for bees to colonize.
- Plant a combination of native and non-native plants.
Honey Bee-friendly Plants
Bees have many favorite plants, including:
- Bee Balm
- Black-eyed Susan
- Lamb’s Ears
- Flowering fruit trees (avocadoes, apples, plums, cherries, peaches, etc.)
- Flowering vegetables (cucumber, squash, melons, pumpkins, etc.)
Want to Learn More about Attracting Honey Bees to your Garden?
Honey bees are fascinating creatures. Learn more about them and the flowers they like at these very informative websites.
Honey Bees are Important Pollinators
Honey Bees and Pollination The Virginia Fruit Web Site.
Urban Bee Gardens
Gardening for Bees – Seasonal Recommended Plant Lists. University of California.
Rebecca McNabb says
I’d like to plant annual flowers IN my garden, AMONG the tomato and pepper plants….the idea being to bring pollinators right to the plants I hope they will pollinate….bad idea? Good idea? If it is, are there flowers that are good to plant among vegetable plants in a garden?
Thabang Gregory Mane says
There is no life without Honey-Bees.
Fern Henley says
Henbit seeds, care and propagation? I see some are in my yard already which has not been mowed too closely. I’ll do better next time!