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15 Perfect Plants for a Bee-Friendly Garden

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Bees and other pollinators are a critical part of any garden, and their continued presence allows for gardens to thrive and flower on schedule. Attracting pollinators to your garden can help your garden thrive in the long term.

Plants like bee balm, honeysuckle, sunflowers, and butterfly bushes can help attract bees and other pollinators to your garden. These plants are attractive to pollinators and draw them to pollinate all your flowers, not just the attractive ones.

So, here are 15 plants you can plant to help take care of the bees!

What Are the Best Plants to Attract Bees?

1. Bee Balm

Monarda, or Bee Balm, is a perennial mint that bees find simply irresistible! Bee balm is a flowering plant that blooms in mid-summer into the early fall and produces red, pink, and purple flowers.

2. Honeysuckle

It probably makes sense once you learn that Lonicera, or Honeysuckle, is attractive to our honey-making friends, the bees. Not only does Honeysuckle have a fantastic fragrance, climbing Honeysuckle plants are great for adorning your hedges!

3. Sunflower

Helianthus, or Sunflowers, are an excellent option for any novice gardener. They’re straightforward to raise, and it’s not just bees who adore them; birds and butterflies love them too!

Edible Flowers 1
Edible Flowers 1

4. Cosmos

Cosmos bipinnatus, usually shortened to just “cosmos,” is another easy to raise flower that bees can’t get enough of. There are many different species of Cosmos so make sure you know what the care needs of the Cosmos you bought are, and some require stalking.

5. Coneflower

The Echinacea, or Coneflower, is another flower that bees adore. These flowers bloom purple or pink and generally bloom in a cone that falls back as the flower ages.

6. Strawberries

The Fragaria × Ananassa, more commonly referred to as a strawberry, is another great plant to add to your garden. Not only do the bees love strawberries, but you and your family can eat them too!

7. Dahlia

The Dahlia pinnata, usually shortened to just the Dahlia, is a perennial flower and the national flower of Mexico. Bees love these tuberous flowers, and they can be overwintered and grown for years to come!

8. Butterfly Bush

While the Buddleja is usually called the Butterfly Bush, it’s not just butterflies attracted! Bees love Butterfly Bushes as much as butterflies and will thank you for planting these bushes around your garden.

9. Crocus

Crocus sativus, or Crocus, is a part of the Iris family and doesn’t just look beautiful; it also attracts bees! These plants are unique because they can appear stemless since the crocus stems remain underground even after the plant has sprouted.

10. Pot Marigold

Calendula, or Pot Marigold, is named for its tendency to bloom with the calendar. These beautiful flowers bloom once a month around the new moon. Additionally, Pot Marigold leaves are used in salads.

11. Geraniums

Geranium Himalayense, or simply “Geraniums,” bloom sporadically throughout the summer filling your garden with a beautiful variety of colorful flowers. These are great flowers to pad out your garden with since they can withstand full shade if that’s the only place you can grow them.

12. Summer White Clematis

Huldine Clematis, or Summer White Clematis, is an excellent option for people looking to attract bees to their garden. This flowering plant blooms with white and mauve flowers that are cup-shaped. Sometimes you might find a busy bee sneaking in a nap inside these flowers!

13. Summer Squash

Summer Squashes feed both the bees and your family! All summer squashes are part of the Cucurbita Pepo species, but not all Cucurbita Pepo families are summer squashes. Lewis and Clarke first documented these brightly-colored nectar-filled flowers!

14. Magnolia

Magnolia Virginiana is a favorite plant of the American South. These magnificent plants bloom gorgeous white flowers that bees can’t get enough of!

15. Snapdragon

Antirrhinum, or Snapdragons, are named for their shape, which looks like a dragon’s face. Not only do bees love these ornamental border flowers, but children can also get joy out of gently pinching them to make the dragon’s mouth open and close!

Is It Good to Have Bees in Your Garden?

Yes! Bees and other pollinators are the reason that your garden can thrive and bloom on schedule! They transfer pollen from the stamen — the “male” part — of one plant to the stigma — the “female” part — of the flower, fertilizing and allowing it to produce flowers, fruits, seeds, and young plants.

Pollinators don’t just help grow the flowering plants in your garden either! Trees, wildflowers, shrubs, and other plants rely on pollinators to facilitate their growth!

This process of pollination and cross-pollination allows for gardens to have a higher level of biodiversity since the pollinators don’t discriminate; they pollinate all the plants! Attracting more pollinators means you’ll see a higher level of diversity amongst the plants in your yard!

Bees and other pollinators are a critical part of the human ecosystem. Their presence is helpful to overall human survival in many ways and should be encouraged wherever possible!

Bees can help with any of the following tasks:

  • Pollination
  • Agricultural Maintenance
  • Food Production
  • Predicting Storms

How Do Bees Help Humans?

Food Production

Bees are a crucial part of the world’s environmental ecosystem and represent a fundamental cornerstone of human development. Even in the modern-day, bees provide an irreplaceable foundation to human civilization.

About 1/3 of the crops we consume are pollinated by bees, which means that one out of every three bites of food you take was probably directly grown by bees! Additionally, bees pollinate our ingredients to feed our dairy and meat animals. Bees have an antenna in all of the food that you eat!

Bees Can Predict Storms

Bees use the Earth’s electromagnetic field to navigate from place to place. The bonus of this extra sense allows them to sense approaching thunderstorms. If you don’t see any bees buzzing around your flowerbeds, get out the umbrellas because bees don’t hide for no reason!

Bees Drive the Global Economy

The global economy would suffer significant losses if bees were to suddenly disappear — something they’re on the verge of doing as we speak. Bees pollinate much of the global crops, and one study claims that the global economy could suffer losses of up to $5.7 billion if we lose the bees.

What’s Killing the Bees?

Bees are currently threatened with a wide variety of artificial situations and products, and losses of up to 75% of the population are documented in Germany. Bees aren’t the only pollinator in danger, either, and many pollinators have found themselves at the business end of a pesticide sprayer.

Scientists believe that up to 1/3 of all insect species are threatened with extinction right now. That’s two million species that could be lost to the annuls of time if we don’t act! This figure grows by up to 100,000 species annually, too.

Invasive Species

Invasive species are one of the biggest threats to bee populations worldwide. The term “invasive species” can refer to other animals and insects or the introduction of diseases to an environment where they were previously absent.

The introduction of Asian Hornets currently threatens many pollinators, and these powerful bugs can decimate an entire colony of honeybees solo. Additionally, the introduction of foreign pathogens leaves bee populations susceptible to diseases their immune systems do not provide adequate defense against.

Increasing the risk of death by illnesses is the use of pesticides which scientists believe weaken the immune systems of bees and pollinators who come in contact with them. Several countries and unions have introduced “Save the Bees” laws which limit or halt the use of certain pesticides that are most detrimental to the bee populations.

Pesticides

Pesticides do not discriminate against just harmful insects; they also kill off pollinators who contact the plants treated with them. While many pesticides tout their safety for pollinators, they’re usually more expensive than their indiscriminate counterparts, and farmers may be inclined to cut corners by using the cheaper pesticides.

Herbicides

Herbicides used to quell “pest plant” populations may pose an even more significant threat to pollinator populations since they kill off many wildflowers and plants that pollinators rely on as food sources.

Scientists worry that the use of pesticides and herbicides could result in the widespread destruction of pollinator populations and damage not just the world’s economy but the food sources humans use to sustain themselves.

Many environmentally friendly farming schemes have been introduced that use the intentional planting of wildflowers to attract and take care of the pollinators that make farming possible in the first place.

Climate Change

Climate change is another significant threat to bee populations worldwide. While most people feel like they know what bees are, over 20,000 species of bees worldwide, and over 4,000 of them are native to the United States alone!

While bees can and will pollinate just about any plant — known as Generalist Pollinators — some bees and other pollinators are especially suited to specific types of plants. These Specialist Pollinators usually have unique and particular needs for the environment they can thrive in.

Many specialist pollinators can only survive in narrow temperature ranges, and as the global temperature increases steadily, the specialist pollinators are moving to places where the environment is more suitable.

As these specialist pollinators move out of the area, generalist pollinators take their place. Leaving some to wonder what exactly the problem is. But the key to the survival of any ecosystem is diversity!

If we have Pollinator 1 and Pollinator 2, and Pollinator 2 leaves the area. Even if Pollinator 1 can sustain the area’s plants, the overall ecosystem is in danger. One sudden change that eliminates or cripples Pollinator 1 could devastate the entire ecosystem.

Habitat Destruction

Lastly, we have huge problems with habitat destruction in the world of bees. Widespread commercial agriculture has devasted the nesting habitats of bees worldwide. This kind of destruction leaves otherwise harmonious bee colonies competing for space to continue living their lives and threatens the species as a whole.

What Happens if We Kill the Bees?

Killing all the bees and replacing them with robots is not a viable answer to the problem of declining bee populations, contrary to what some scientifically illiterate lawmakers and world leaders will try to make you believe.

While researchers at Harvard University in Boston, Massachusetts, are currently developing a robotic pollinator, this idea is now far from a viable replacement for the naturally evolved superheroes that are pollinators.

Should we — as we’ve been doing — effectively drive out and mass murder the specialist pollinators that help maintain what’s left of our Earth, at first, generalist pollinators will take over for them. The populations of generalist pollinators will explode and take up the positions that the specialist pollinators once occupied.

Then humans will be living in an ecosystem loosely held together with duct tape and prayer that is hinged on one critical species. At that point, we’ll be one global ecological crisis from destroying our ecosystem entirely and starving to death.

In short, save the bees!

FAQ’s about Bees in the Your Garden

Final Thoughts About Creating a Bee-Friendly Garden

Creating a bee-friendly garden is a great way to try and help remedy the ecological disaster befalling our fuzzy pollinating friends. Planting bee-friendly plants is a great way to bring bees back to locations they may have abandoned in favor of more lush places.

Pollinators are the reason that your garden can flourish and grow. So, make sure you do your best to take care of them in return.

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