Flowering plants are essential for the survival of honeybees. These plants provide a source of nectar and pollen that bees need to produce honey and feed their young.
However, not all flowering plants are created equal when it comes to attracting bees. Some plants are more attractive to bees than others, and some plants are sterile and useless for bees!
Several factors can make a plant more attractive to bees. Bees are particularly drawn to plants with bright colours, especially shades of blue, purple, white, and yellow. They are also attracted to plants with a high nectar and pollen content.
Additionally, plants that bloom throughout the growing season are especially valuable to bees, as they provide a consistent source of food.
In this article, I will explore some of the best flowering plants to attract honeybees, so you can create a beautiful and beneficial garden for these important pollinators.
Why Attract Honeybees?
The Importance of Honeybees
Honeybees are one of the most important pollinators of flowering plants. They are responsible for pollinating approximately one-third of the food we eat, including fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Without honeybees, our food supply would be severely impacted, and we would face a shortage of many of the foods we rely on.
In addition to their role in pollination, honeybees obviously produce honey, which I personally love and is enough reason alone for me to take care of them!
The Benefits of Attracting Honeybees
Attracting honeybees to your garden has many benefits. By providing a habitat for honeybees, you are helping to support their population and ensure that they continue to play their important role in pollination. This, in turn, helps to maintain a healthy ecosystem and a diverse range of plant and animal species.
In addition to the environmental benefits, attracting honeybees to your garden can also have practical benefits.
Honeybees can increase the yield and quality of your crops, resulting in a bigger harvest; who doesn’t want that? They can also help improve your plants’ health and vitality by transferring pollen from one flower to another, promoting cross-pollination and genetic diversity.
Characteristics of Flowering Plants that Attract Honeybees
Some flowers attract honey bees more than others, and this is usually because they have one or more of the key characteristics below.
Bees are attracted to flowers in the blue, violet, and purple spectrum. They are also attracted to flowers in the yellow-and-white spectrum.
Bees cannot see the colour red, and it appears to them as black. But they can still see ultra violet markings on red flowers, so don’t discount them completely.
Honeybees are attracted to flowers that have a sweet and pleasant fragrance. Flowers that have a strong fragrance can be detected by bees from a distance, and they will be drawn to them.
The shape of the flower is also an important factor in attracting honeybees. Flowers that have a tubular shape, such as the foxglove, are ideal for attracting bees.
The tubular shape allows the bees to access the nectar easily. Flowers with a flat shape, such as the daisy, are also attractive to bees.
The size of the flower is another factor to consider when choosing plants that attract honeybees. Large flowers, such as the sunflower, are more attractive to bees than small flowers.
Large flowers provide more nectar and pollen, which is essential for the bees’ survival.
Top Flowering Plants That Attract Honeybees
Lavender is a popular plant that is known for its beautiful purple flowers and lovely fragrance. Honeybees love lavender because it produces a lot of nectar and blooms in mid-summer when bees are most active.
The honey from bees who feed on lavender has a wonderful floral flavour.
Sunflowers are not only beautiful to look at, but they are also great for attracting honeybees. The large, showy flowers produce a lot of nectar and pollen, making them a popular food source for bees.
Sunflowers are also easy to grow and come in various sizes and colours.
Rosemary is an aromatic herb that is commonly used in cooking. It also happens to be a favourite of honeybees.
The blue flowers of the rosemary plant produce a lot of nectar and are a good source of food for bees. In addition, rosemary is a hardy plant that can grow in various conditions.
Bluebells are a popular spring flower that produces beautiful blue flowers. They are also great for attracting honeybees.
The bell-shaped flowers produce a lot of nectar and are a good source of food for bees. Bluebells are also easy to grow and can be planted in shady areas.
Heather is a hardy plant that produces beautiful pink, purple, or white flowers. It is a favourite of honeybees because it produces a lot of nectar and can still be blooming in late summer when other plants are starting to fade.
Heather is also a great plant for attracting other pollinators like butterflies and moths.
Monarda (Bee Balm)
As you can probably tell from its common name, this plant is adored by bees. It is much more common in American gardens, but it can be grown right here in the UK.
Calendula (Pot Marigold)
I love growing calendula in my garden, the flowers are stunning, and it is really simple to grow. What’s more, the bees love it too.
The flowers also make great cut flowers and can even be used in homemade soaps and balms.
Rudbeckia provides lots of nectar for bees, and the big open flower centres are a magnet to all kinds of pollinators.
Bees adore echinacea for many of the same reasons as the rudbeckia above. The flowers act like a massive sign, with their open centres saying, “Nectar Here – All You Can Eat”
The allotment favourite, borage, is very attractive to all pollinators, including bees. This is one of the reasons it is commonly grown as a companion plant in the veg garden.
The flowers are also edible, and the leaves can be used as a fertiliser, just like its cousin – comfrey.