How to Attract Bees to Your Garden with Native Flowers

In the Garden Sue May 27, 2024
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attract bees to your garden

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As we all know, bees are necessary for the pollination of many crops and flowers. Without them, we would not have the variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts that we enjoy today. But did you know that there are over 4,000 species of bees in North America?

Unfortunately, native bee populations are in decline due to the loss of habitat and the use of pesticides. But there is something you can do to help! By planting native flowers in your garden, you can attract native bees and give them the food they need to survive.

native bee


Why Native Bees?

Native bees, also called solitary bees, are often overlooked. But they are important pollinators of native plants in our ecosystems. These bees do not live in hives or make honey, so they are typically much gentler than honeybees. Honeybees are not native to the United States.  Native bee populations are also more diverse, meaning they are much more effective at pollinating a variety of plants than honeybees.

Native bees also have longer lifespans than honeybees, living up to a year or more. This means they can pollinate your garden for many months, rather than a few weeks like honeybees. This is especially important if your garden offers blooms throughout the year. Plus, by creating a habitat for native bees and other pollinators, you can help restore the vital butterfly and bee populations that are currently in decline due to human activities.

Native Flowers that attract Bees:

There are a wide variety of native flowers that attract native bees. Some of the most popular flowers for native bees include: sunflowers, aster, flax, lupine, goldenrod, asters, clovers, spiderwort, and foxglove.

goldenrod with bee

goldenrod

These flowers come in an array of colors and can be grown in a variety of sun and soil conditions. All of these flowers offer an excellent food source for native bees.

Sunflowers, for example, provide plenty of nectar and pollen for bees to collect. Asters and lupines offer smaller nectar supplies but they are highly nutritious.

sunflower with bee

Foxglove and other bell-shaped flowers provide longer tubes of nectar and the color of the blooms attract the bees even more.

foxglove with bee

In addition, native plants are great sources of pollen and nectar. Many of these plants do not need to be replanted each year, so they provide a long-term resource for native bees. Plus, they are typically drought-tolerant and require little maintenance, making them ideal for a bee-friendly garden.

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Building a Bee-Friendly Garden

Creating a bee-friendly garden starts with selecting the right flowers. Native bee populations respond best to native plants since they have adapted to their ecosystems over hundreds of years.

Additionally, native plants are usually more resilient and easier to maintain than non-native plants. Once you’ve chosen the flowers for your bee-friendly garden, it’s important to plan the layout of the garden carefully.

Consider the best location for your bee-friendly garden – it should be in a spot that gets 5-6 hours of sun each day. And remember – bees are attracted to variety and they feed on a wide range of plants, so be sure to choose a variety of flowers in different colors, shapes, and sizes.

Plant your flowers in clusters to make them more attractive to bees and add some shrubs and trees in the mix to give them a place to rest and nest.

Why Native Plants?


1. Native plants are the best choice for attracting native bees because they provide a food source tailored to the needs of the species.

2. Native plants are drought-tolerant and require little maintenance, making them a great choice for a bee-friendly garden. 

3. Native plants are more likely to be pest-resistant than other flower varieties. This is important because native bees are sensitive to pesticides and will avoid areas where non-native plants were sprayed with pesticides.

4. Native plants support the local ecosystem and provide the best habitat for native animals – including bees. They play an essential role in maintaining the biodiversity of the area, creating a healthy environment that benefits both humans and wildlife.

My Native Wildflower field

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Tips for Attracting Native Bees


In addition to planting native flowers, there are a few other things you can do to attract native bees to your garden.

  • First, provide some perches for the bees to rest on, such as sticks or stones. The bees prefer to rest on something elevated so they can take off quickly when they need to. Here are some alternatives:

  • You should also add a water source to the garden. Bees need a source of water to drink and cool down on hot days, so adding a small bird bath or water feature to the garden can be beneficial. Just be sure to keep the edges of the water shallow and make sure the water doesn’t evaporate quickly. Here is an example of a water source:

  • Another tip is to avoid using pesticides or herbicides in your garden. These can be toxic to bees and can kill them. If you find an infestation of pests, try using natural solutions like introducing beneficial insects or using traps.


The Importance of Native Flowers

Native flowers are essential for attracting native bees to your garden. As mentioned, native bees are adapted to their local environment and are more likely to feed on native flowers. Plus, native flowers tend to bloom for longer periods than other varieties, providing a consistent source of food for bees throughout the growing season. In addition, native bees need nectar and pollen to survive, so it’s important to provide a variety of flowers that offer different shapes and colors. Plant a mix of different types of flowers that bloom at different times of the year to provide the best food source for bees.

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German short haired pointer in the wiildflowers'

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