Can you recommend some plants that are particularly attractive to bees? I’m hoping to lure many bees toward my vegetable garden so they will also pollinate my veggie plants and help ensure a good harvest.
Answer: The right flowers, fruit and vegetables in your garden will welcome visitors such as bumblebees and solitary bee species (those that don’t form a hive, including mason bees).
Two factors contribute to a successful bee garden: the flowers should be planted in full sunlight and they should be planted in groups. Flowers grown singly or in twos or threes may fail to attract bees. Bees often overlook flowers grown in shade, even though the produce pollen and nectar.
Unfortunately, some of the most spectacular garden flowers are of no use to the bee. In contrast, many flowers dismissed as weeds, such as dandelions and forget-me-nots, provide a rich source of food. One of the best and easiest things you can do to make your garden more bee-friendly is to forget the weed killers and let your lawn and beds go wild.
If you’re not ready to let go of the neatness of your well-tended garden, the next best thing is to leave a patch to run wild, starting by sowing a wildflower mix.
In addition to wildflowers, try these plants:
- Snowdrops, winter aconite, crocuses, daffodils and hyacinths, which supply much-needed pollen and nectar after the long winter months.
- Purple and white butterfly bushes, Michaelmas daisies and sedum, which supply the bees with final sustenance before the winter
- Tulips, forget-me-nots and dandelions for late sprin into summer
- Salvia x superba and catmint for summer, along with fuchsia, cornflowers, yarrow, goldenrod, geranium and bellflower (Campanula)
- Plenty of herbs, including sage, thyme, marjoram, basil, rosemary and lavender, plus fruits like raspberries, blackberries and gooseberries.