How To Encourage Bees In Your Garden


Do you want to give a boost to the flowers, vegetables, and fruit trees in your garden?  If so, then you will want to learn how to encourage bees to come to your garden.  You will also want to encourage them to stay once they arrive.

So, how do you encourage bees in your garden?  To encourage bees in your garden, plant a variety of flowering plants, shrubs, and trees.  Also, avoid using pesticides and other chemicals, which can kill bees.  Finally, build a beehive to give them a place to rest and store their food.

We know that bees will come to the yard for flowers, but which ones are best?  Let’s start by taking a look at which plants will encourage bees in your garden.  Then we’ll get into ways that you can avoid pesticides and chemicals, and how to build a beehive to give them a place to rest.

How to Encourage Bees in Your Garden

The first step is to attract bees with flowers of various colors that bloom at different times of the season.

Plant a Variety of Plants and Flowers

If you want to encourage bees in your garden, your best bet is to plant a variety of flowering plants, shrubs, and trees.

It is even better if these flowers bloom at different times of the season.  This will keep the bees in your yard, pollinating your plants, throughout the growing season.

When deciding what to plant, remember that native plants are always better.  There are two reasons for this.

First, native plants are more likely to survive in your area.  This is especially true if they are annuals that need to make it through the winter.

Also, native plants are more attractive to the bees that live in your area.  Give bees the flowers that are familiar to them!

Check the catalog to find out when your plants bloom, so that you can plan accordingly.  Choose some plants that bloom early, mid-season, and late, so that your bees always have some flowers to work on.

Plants that Bloom Early in the Season

Here is a list of plants that bloom early in the season, suggested by Ohio State University and Michigan State University.

Redbud flowers
Redbud flowers bloom early in the season.
  • Maple – These trees bloom in later winter or early spring, making them an excellent early-season source of pollen and nectar for bees.  Most are native to Asia, and only one type extends to the Southern Hemisphere.  The flowers on a maple tree are green, yellow, orange, or red.  As an added bonus, you can tap maple trees to get sap, which can be boiled down to maple syrup (a huge industry in Vermont!)  For more information, check out this article on Maple trees from Wikipedia.
  • Willow – These deciduous trees and shrubs grow in moist soils in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.  The flowers bloom in early spring, with rose-colored buds and orange or purple flowers.  For more information, check out this article on Willow trees from Wikipedia.
  • Redbud – These deciduous trees and shrubs are native to warm or temperate regions.  The pinkish-red flowers bloom in early spring on shoots without leaves, on both branches and trunk.  For more information, check out this article on Redbud trees from Wikipedia.
  • Linden – these deciduous trees are found throughout the United States and Europe.  American Linden is native to eastern North America and many other parts of the U.S.  They are a fast-growing tree with small, fragrant, white or yellow flowers that emerge in mid-spring.  For more information, check out this article on American Linden from Wikipedia.
  • Foxglove – this genus includes 20 species of biennials (live for 2 years), perennials, and shrubs.  The purple, pink, white, or yellow flowers are produced on a tall spike.  For more information, check out this article on Foxglove from Wikipedia.
foxglove flowers
Foxglove is another plant that blooms early in the season.

Plants that Bloom Mid-Season

Here is a list of plants that bloom mid-season, suggested by Ohio State University and Michigan State University.

borage flower
Borage is a plant with flowers that bloom in mid-season.
  • Thistle – These flowering plants have sharp spines to protect them from being eaten.  The flowers are pink, and are highly valued by bumblebees due to their high nectar production.  For more information, check out this article on Thistle from Wikipedia.
  • Blazing Star – These flowering plants are native to North America and are a member of the sunflower family.  The plants are perennial, meaning that they can survive the winter.  The flowers are pink or purple.  For more information, check out this article on Blazing Star from Wikipedia.
  • Borage – Also known as starflower, these annual herbs are native to the Mediterranean.  The stems and leaves have hairs (bristles) all over them.  The flowers are blue or sometimes pink, blooming from June to September in the UK.  For more information, check out this article on Borage from Wikipedia
  • Button Bush – This flowering plant is a member of the coffee family.  It is a deciduous shrub or small tree with white to pale-yellow flowers.  For more information, check out this article on Button Bush from Wikipedia.

Plants that Bloom Late in the Season

Here is a list of plants that bloom late in the season, suggested by Ohio State University and Michigan State University.

Rudbeckia flower
Rudbeckia blooms late in the season.
blue hydrangea
Hydrangea flowers also bloom late in the season.

Avoid Pesticides and Other Chemicals

I know how frustrating it can be to deal with pests in the garden and around your house.  It can be tempting to just spray some wasp killer or insecticide to get rid of the bugs you don’t want.

However, most insecticides do not discriminate as far as the insects they kill.  Unfortunately, these insecticides will kill bees too.

Once bees have come to your yard for the flowers, the best way to encourage them to stay is to avoid pesticides completely.

Instead, keep your plants healthy to avoid pest infestations.  This is called “integrated pest management” (IPM), a series of preventative measures to avoid infestations.

Make sure that your plants have the proper amounts of space, light, fertilizer, and water.  When watering, do not wet their leaves at night.  This can cause disease, which will weaken the plant and invites pests.

Check your plants for pests often.  If any plant develops signs of pest infestation, remove it from the other plants to prevent the problem from spreading.

Ask Your Neighbors for Help

Unfortunately, there is only so much you can do by yourself to encourage bees and keep them in your garden.  If nearby neighbors are using pesticides, then the wind can carry them to your yard, making life difficult for your bees.

Ask your nearby neighbors about going “natural” to avoid pesticides and keep the bees coming so that your plants will get pollinated.  This also goes for herbicides and lawn treatments, which contain some nasty chemicals as well.

For more information, check out this article on honey bees from the Honey Bee Conservancy.

Build a Beehive

Building a beehive gives bees a place to rest and offers a place to store their food.  A beehive provides shade against heat, and you can also provide water (or sugar water) to help them get established.

Beehives are manmade structures (as opposed to nests, which are naturally occurring colonies of bees).  Beehives can help to prevent colony collapse disorder in groups of bees.

Beehives also help to pollinate the flowers in your garden, which means a better harvest at the end of the season.  As an added bonus, you can also get honey from a beehive – just make sure you have the right clothing and equipment to avoid getting stung!

For more information, check out this article on beehives from Wikipedia.

Remember that some birds do eat bees on occasion, so keeping birds away with scarecrows or other measures can help to keep the bee population high.

Conclusion

By now, you have a much better idea of how to encourage bees in your garden.  If you grow the right plants to attract them and avoid chemicals that drive them away, you should have a good growing season as a result.

I hope you found this article helpful – if so, please share it with someone who can use the information.  If you have any questions about how to encourage bees in your garden, leave a comment below.

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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