How to Attract Bees: An Easy Guide to a Bountiful Garden

Wet & Forget
by Wet & Forget
Bees play a crucial role in maintaining a strong and prosperous garden. Learn how to attract bees to your garden with these helpful tips. Bees are the Earth’s greatest pollinators, and they can improve the health of your garden in several ways.

It’s important to understand the difference between native bees and honey bees. Native bees pollinate numerous crops more effectively and thoroughly than honey bees, but they do not produce honey. However, honey bees are still responsible for helping pollinate several crops, as well as producing honey. Honey bees can not be called native bees because they were originally imported to North America. Honey bees are native to Africa and Asia but they have been domesticated for hundreds of years.

Native bees are affiliated with their specific environments and they pollinate a variety of gardens and orchards. Bumblebees, sweat bees, orchard mason bees, squash bees, and mining bees are the five main types of native bees that provide pollination. They provide countless benefits to crops grown all over the country. In fact, pollinators help to produce over 150 food crops in the United States. Young adult native bees arise from their nests at different times throughout the year. Their emergence typically corresponds with the blooming period of these food crops.

Certain crops, such as strawberries, blueberries and the entire squash family depend on pollination from native bees to yield high quality crops. Tomatoes that are frequented by bumblebees will produce bigger fruit. This is due to the excess pollen shaken by their buzzing, in comparison to the pollen released by just the wind. Strawberries that are pollinated by several types of bees produce a smaller number of misshapen berries. Pumpkins that are pollinated by squash bees are much larger than those that are not.
Planting Tips
Wildflowers: It’s a good idea to plant wildflowers and native species to attract bees. Bees and wildflowers evolved together, so native wildflowers provide bees with a great source of pollen and nectar.
Single Flowers: Flowers with only one ring of petals, offer more pollen and nectar than double flowers. Double flowers make it harder for bees to reach the inner flower parts that contain the pollen and nectar.
Pay Attention to Color: Plant flowers that are blue, purple and yellow. These colors attract bees the most. Avoid white flowers because bees have a hard time seeing this color.
Say No to Pesticides: Stay away from using any pesticides, even organic ones. Many of them are toxic to bees. Use alternate pest control methods, like crop rotation, trapping, or hand picking. Only use pesticides if you have no other pest control option. To protect pollinators, do not use the pesticides on open blossoms, or when bees are present.
Create a Bee Sanctuary
Bees require raw materials to build their nests. You can also keep a small pile of brush or dead wood in your backyard. Dry grasses and reeds are also excellent nesting materials. Attract bees to your backyard by setting a low wooden frame around a pile of dirt mixed with sand. Top off the pile with a few old pieces of firewood or rotting logs. Check that only clumping grasses grow on the pile. Finish your bee sanctuary by planting a variety of bee-appealing plants in a close by area. You can also consider backyard beekeeping. Even if you don’t live in a rural area, you can keep a beehive in your backyard. To learn more about backyard beekeeping, click here.
Plants That Attract Bees
Studies show that bees prefer an assortment of plants instead of only one individual crop. Many bees emerge from their nests at specific times to gather pollen and nectar certain crops. All pollinators are active at different times throughout the year. The bees might only be active for a few weeks, so it is important to have a variety of plants blooming from early spring to late fall.
Several fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers will attract bees. Annual flowers that attract bees are: cosmos, sunflowers, poppies, and zinnias. Many perennial flowers attract bees, such as: black-eyed Susans, foxgloves, single-flowered hollyhocks, lamb’s ear, and Russian sage. Some vegetables that attract bees are artichokes, beans, cucumbers, peas, and summer or winter squash. Herbs can also be planted to lure bees. The best types of herbs to plant are:  basil, coriander, dill, fennel, lavender, low-growing clover, mint, oregano, and rosemary. Lastly, the fruits that appeal the most to bees are: apples, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, currants, and melons. To see a more comprehensive list of what plants attract bees, click here.

For more more helpful tips to attract bees click here. For more information on the different types of native bees and their behavior click here.
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