Best flowers to attract bees

Anyone have any good tips to start a pollinators garden? I like gardening and attracting life but I want to know any good plants/ flowers that would be good for attracting pollinators.

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You may be interested in this thread:
https://forum.inaturalist.org/t/where-to-get-native-plants-for-a-pollinator-garden/1059

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It looked like it was for canada only, do you know of any threads of pollinators in general?

(thanks for the link btw :))

Oh wait nvm I found a link on the thread I accidentally skipped over it. I found it, thank you so much

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I think it depends on what grows with minimal water in your area and what is in bloom this time of year (what nurseries are selling). I am in Northern California, and although I try for native plants when possible, my main rule is drought tolerant, which means a lot of Mediterranean, and Southwestern US natives. Not sure if this is relevant to your area, but currently the plants in our garden that are most popular with bees, butterflies and other pollinators are: teucrium fruticans, Ceanothus ‘Yankee Point’, California poppies, Cistus (rock roses), Nepeta (catmint) and Salvias (Mexican Bush Sage, Salvia Apiana, and Salvia Microphylla). However, I also find that bees like flowering succulents. It is no longer in bloom here, but our Aeonium arboreum was hugely popular with bumble bees, and I think you will find a wide range of good succulents/cacti that attract pollinators. In general salvias are always a good bet — in the Western United States there are a number of drought tolerant native salvias. Our neighbors have Salvia mellifera (black sage) in their yard and I’ve never seen a plant so active with pollinators. If you aren’t going exclusively ‘native’, Lavender is useful too. And butterflies LOVE our Verbena (bonariensis, lilacina ‘De La Mina’)—though the bonariensis tends to spread, so I am careful to cut it down as soon as it goes to seed. If I were making a start and wanted to do native and xeriscape, I would go with salvias and succulents. Various species of Monarda (bee balm) are great too.

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In Cape Town, also mediterranean climate, Ujubee advised planting perennial basil. Always in bloom, and quickly produces more nectar. So long as something bee-friendly blooms year round. I prefer indigenous but leave dandelions for the bees.

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Something that you may consider is what pollinators you are looking for. I recently was wanting to photograph particular pollinators so I did a search in iNat Explore looking for those pollinators but I limited it to my area (bounding box about 50km high) and this particular time of year. I then identified the plants that were associated with that pollinator the most. Then I looked for those plants that had been observed closer to me to see if I could match my expectations in the field - yes. Different plants offer up at different times of the year. You could then try to find the top three plants per month for your pollinator and then find out if there is a nursery nearby that sells those plants. Remember that not all bees are alike and may be built to take advantage of different plants - even bumblebees have different preferences.

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That sounds like an amazing project! Some of my favorite wildflower trips have been to Arizona in the spring time.

A chapter of the Arizona Native Plant Society (ANPS) may be able to provide some direct support.

The ANPS has a native garden planning guide

They recommend this wildflower resource for different Arizona regions:
Desert Wildflower Blooms

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Not specifically for bees, but this page on the Xerces Society website has a section with lots of plant lists for your region:

https://xerces.org/pollinator-resource-center/southwest

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I live in Texas, but the nectar plants I’ve noticed pollinators like a lot are…
Dewberry blooms
Paintbrushes
Chickasaw plum (It’s like a large bush)
Black eyed Susans
Aster
Bonset
Goldenrod
Sage
Basil
Watermelon flowers

I would also plant host plants for butterflies in your garden. I don’t plant them in mine because we have so many growing wild. :smiley::grin:

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Pollination gardens are myopic and so silly if they are regarded as something akin to a complete garden in terms of their creator giving back to nature.
Trendy, this year’s fashion statement for competition gardeners.
Before you ask the question “What are the best flowers for a pollinators garden?” lets look at the bigger picture, starting with a clean sheet of paper as it were.
The patch of land that is now your garden, what did it look like originally?
Grassy woodland , subtropical wetland, arid zone shrubland, coastal dunes?
Whatever grew there was the climax botanical mixture for that patch’s soil, local climate and 'moment in evolutionary and geological time ‘.
I’m not saying anything, including a garden, is static or a constant in an ever changing landscape, environmentally and climate-wise.
But a garden-small or big- should, if the gardeners truly wants to promote biodiversity above other considerations (eg short term food production , showing off the latest, prettiest cultivar, or in the case in point encouraging pollinators) reflect the true nature of the place .
Here in South Australia a garden that is as close as possible to natural* is called a Wirra. (*Based on what knowledge remains of exactly what plants and animals existed right there before the current resident humans began altering the site for all the usual reasons…agriculture, housing, industry etc).
A Wirra reflects the true nature of a place .In nature no place,no matter how small, is identical to another, even if,superficially, one patch of scrub may seem like every bit of scrub around it.
A Wirra is the only type of garden that reflects the true nature of a place.
All other gardens are artifices ,which is better than concrete or monoculture but why compromise?
If huge areas of the planet’s once natural vegetation must be altered to accommodate humans living in towns and cities, the small fragments allocated for gardens-public and private- will serve the biodiversity and conservation causes best if we attempt to restore each locality’s natural habitat .
Any gardeners who think they can do better than mother nature is surely dreaming of the impossible.
Back to pollinators: the ones that have evolved and adapted to the flowers that once grew in what is now your garden are, unquestionably, the ideal, most effective pollinators for those original flowering plants. And those original flowering plants are the best choices for a garden if you value maintenance of biodiversity. Meaning you value the survival of life on earth above all else, and you accept that your and your grandchildrens’ survival is inextricably dependent upon planetary biodiversity.
So my answer to this pollinators vs flowers question is very simple.
Plant as complete a mix of the flowering plant species that grew naturally there as possible, and the optimal numbers and varieties of pollinators will gradually return.
Native bees will return to a place where they were rendered temporarily locally extinct.
Ditto other native insects ,including butterflies (which need host plants to allow their species to survive, even more than they need flowers to drink nectar from. So butterfly attracting flowering plant species from the local nursery may look nice when covered with butterflies but unless they are a plant species that grew naturally right there they are reducing not increasing butterfly species survival) and native spiders, birds, reptiles and mammals all play pollinator roles, so it becomes a win win for the gardener and the planet.
If it didn’t grow at your garden’s locality long before it became your garden, its not a pollinator flower species that you want in your garden.

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Which bees?
Exotic (feral) or native?
Please clarify, as there is a huge difference!
Thanks in advance.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1046/j.1366-9516.2001.00120.x

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Here in the UK that is worryingly true. Put a log pile, a multi-occupancy bug hotel, a bird table, and a few pretty “bee friendly” flowers in an odd corner of the garden and you have the trendy middle-class model of modern gardening.

It doesn’t matter that the rest of the garden is sprayed with weedkiller and pesticides, that you poison the slugs and snails or that you root out the native/naturalised larval food plants, or you destroy any trace of safe hibernating or overwintering places as soon as summer’s over. There are even people who will proudly grow a “butterfly bush” but kill caterpillars because they’re pests.

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Ujubee is studying our wild bees at Cape Point national park. Such fascinating diversity and biology. Urban beehives in Durban were a previous chapter of her life. Now she studies the wild hives, with a propolis wall which protects them from wildfires. Lots of oil and resin to harvest from fynbos.

We are currently neck and neck with Hong King for species in the City bioblitz.

Over here in the US, if you let your garden go “back to nature” you can almost count on being challenged unless you’re in a rural area with no neighbors nearby. You may get a letter from the city or local HOA demanding that you mow and take care of your messy garden. There are still a lot of ordinances that say you can’t grow anything taller than 8-10 inches and you have to maintain your landscape so it doesn’t pose a hazard or nuisance. Unfortunately, untamed nature is often seen as a public nuisance, infested with ticks, rats, and other unwanted vermin. So while planting natives in orderly beds and making it look like a well-manicured garden is a compromise, in a lot of places that’s still pretty much the only option unless you’re ready to fight with the authorities and neighbors.

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I second the recommendation for getting in touch with your local native plant society. They probably know best what grows well in your area and may have lists already prepared with plant suggestions for birds, bees, and butterflies etc. I know what works in my yard but since we are in totally different climates probably none of those plants would be good recommendations for your area.

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What do you mean by feral?

Feral bees can be bees that were brought in for agricultural/domestic/apiculture purposes but have managed to establish themselves in the wild. Western Honey Bees are thought to have originated in Africa and spread to Europe in two ancient migrations and then were domesticated at some point and have been spread by humans to other continents. Bumblebees are used in greenhouses but can get out and establish themselves - they were also brought to New Zealand to pollinate clover. Mason bees are also used for agricultural purposes.

One of the issues is that these non-endemic species, feral or not, can displace the endemic pollinators ( bees, flies, birds, moths, etc).

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Ohh ok, Id like to attract native bees to my garden because I want to bring more pollinators to the area

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It really depends on what bees you want to attract and what you want the garden to be used for. If you want to attract native bees, then I totally agree with this:

Plant whatever was growing there before human settlement. If you want a food garden (while I would still recommend planting at least some natives to support the ecosystem), I’ve found borage (Borago officinalis) is great for attracting honeybees, but I would probably reserve that for supporting a cultivated hive because I haven’t seen many of the native bees using it. The best way that I’ve been able to find plants for native bees is just by going to the nearest wild area and observing which native plants have the most native bees on them, then planting those.

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