With the array of flowers in the garden, it is not surprising that many ask which flowers do bees like? Not every flower is good for pollinators. Gardeners who love to grow vegetables need bees to pollinate their flowering vegetables and fruits. Therefore, to make it easier for you to navigate through the complex world of flowering plants, below are some of the best flowers for bee pollinators that you should have in your garden, especially if you are growing fruits and vegetables.
Why are Bees Important in a Garden?
Whilst we all love flowers because of the vibrancy they bring into our gardens, they are much more than just beautiful. Flowers attract bees as well as other pollinators, which in turn will help with pollination; a process that is essential to fruit and vegetable gardens. Flowers once pollinated turn into fruits and vegetables that we are accustomed to eating. However, for a flower to become vegetable, it needs pollinators, such as bees and butterflies to visit our garden. This is why we need to grow flowers that bees love in the garden.
From a Flower into A Fruit
Have you ever noticed how a flower turns into a vegetable? This is possible because of a process called pollination. When bees visit flowers to collect pollen and nectar, some pollen from the flower will stick to their bodies. As the bee visits other flowers, the pollen drops off and starts the pollination process. It is this process which turns flowers into the fruits and vegetables that we eat today. Without this pollination process, the plants cannot produce the food that we love to eat.
While bees, such as honeybees and bumblebees are in your garden visiting the nectar rich flowers, they will also visit other flowers in your fruit and vegetable garden. As they visit the vegetable garden, they will start the cross-pollination process and speed up the process of turning your flowers into fruit and veg.
In the absence of bees, many gardeners turn to manually cross pollinating their plants. However, doing this can be a mammoth task if you have many plants to pollinate. I personally think that maintaining a thriving bee population is more convenient and nature’s automated way of dealing with pollination.
Which Flowers should you Plant to Attract Bees?
In order to attract bees you should plant flowers that pollinators love. Bees love flowers that are rich in nectar and pollen. However, they also want flowers where it is easy to reach the pollen and nectar, in other words ‘wide mouthed’ flowers like an apple tree flower, sunflower and foxglove.
Whilst other pollinating insects, such as, butterflies can harm our crops, bees do not damage them. For example, butterflies are good for pollination, but they lay eggs on the leaves of cabbages, which means that you lose some of your vegetables. On the other hand, bees pay a visit, collect nectar, drop some of the pollen off and then they are on their way home – the perfect houseguest.
Related Article: Can I Use Neem Oil for Plants as Pest Control?
Selecting the Right Flowers for Bee Pollinators
Not every flowering plant will produce enough nectar or pollen to attract bees because they are selectively bred to limit pollination. Therefore, when buying new plants, do a bit of research and purchase them from nurseries where the plants have not been modified. A US based company Eden Brothers do a bee friendly wildflower mix which will be is suitable for your bee friendly garden.
Flowers You Should Plant For Bee Pollinators
As I mentioned before, not every flower will produce the amount of nectar and pollen needed to attract pollinators. Therefore when purchasing the plants, buy them from trusted sources. Ask your local nursery for the right plants or visit online stores such as Eden Brothers and look for the label that identifies them as bee friendly.
The following are flowers that bees like. Therefore maintain a good range of them in your garden to attract, bumblebees as well as honey bees:
- Wild lilac
- Fruiting trees, such as, apple and plum
- Mix of bee friendly wildflowers that are pollen rich
Related Article: How to companion plant in a vegetable garden
Reduce Weeding To Keep Flowers Good for Bees
Whilst we may view some flowers as weeds, there are many flowers that are good for pollination. Flowers from weeds such as dandelions are also essential to maintaining an overall healthy insect population.
If you allow the garden to overgrow a little bit, you will notice dandelions, daisies and buttercups sprouting all over the place. Whilst we may think of the brightly coloured flowers as weeds, they are actually good for bees. Therefore, keep the weeds a little longer on your lawn to help the bee population.
Unless you are allergic to bee stings making your garden bee friendly will help the environment as well as speed up the process in your fruit and vegetable gardens.
If you are not keen on unmanicured gardens, you could perhaps try leaving a small inconspicuous area as a weed and wildflower bed for the bees.
Knowing which flowers to grow in the garden to attract pollinators is essential in order to keep the insect population thriving. Our natural world needs bees to pollinate flowers to maintain the world’s food system.
Although we have progressed a lot in farming and automated systems are slowly taking over the job of the bee in industrial agricultural settings, we cannot ignore the need we have for bees outside this setting. Whether it is a vegetable garden or a flowerbed, bees are essential to our environment. However, with the ever-increasing numbers of flowers available to plant, it is important to know which flowers will attract bees.
If you’re not having any luck with pollination, you can try a manual method using an electric toothbrush, a small paintbrush or a cotton bud to get the pollination process started.
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Frequently asked questions:
Which flowers will attract bees?
Bees like flowers which produce a lot of nectar and pollen such as sunflowers, foxglove, wild lilac, marigolds, lavender, honeysuckle. Bees love flowers on fruit producing trees such as apple trees.
Are weeds are good for bees?
Yes weeds such as dandelions, buttercups and daisies will attract bees as well as butterflies to your garden.
Do roses attract bees?
Some roses which are nectar and pollen rich will attract a range of beneficial insects including bees. It may be difficult to know which rose plant to buy because not all will produce enough nectar and pollen. However, you can visit your local nursery or garden centre to pick the right type of rose plant.