Make Your Garden A Bee Haven, Help Our Pollinators #1

UPDATED 6/23 – This post is Part 1 of a 2 post series on pollinators. This first post is on gardening for bees. Even though some of the plants and garden care are the same for butterflies and bees, I feel bees need to be considered separately due to the great jeopardy they presently face.

Pollinators, the small creatures that visit flowers in their search for food, help 3/4’s of the world’s flowering plants to reproduce.  What does this mean to you and me?  Most fruit, vegetable and seed crops besides the plants that provide fiber, medicine, and fuel are pollinated by animals. 71 of the 100 Global Food Crop Species Depend on Pollination! Some experts estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of pollinators.  Besides bees and beautiful butterflies, pollinators include moths, birds, bats, beetles and other insects. Pollinators face many challenges in the modern world. Habitat loss, disease, parasites, and environmental contaminants have all contributed to the decline of many species. Many of the suggestions will assist all pollinators but today’s emphasis is on our bees.

Bees are the main pollinators for fruits and vegetables.  There are over 4,000 species of bees native to North America.

Bee, Flowers, Petals, Pollen, Pollination, Insect, Bug

For the last twenty years, our bees have been in crisis with over 40% of the United States bee colonies experiencing Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). A single event like the spraying of pesticides or an extremely cold day thanks to climate change can wipe out thousands, if not millions, of bees. This not only damages the bees’ population but also our vital food sources in the process. If we want to keep berries, apples, onion, carrots, avocados, and many other foods, we need to start caring about bees. In North America, bees pollinate almost 90 crops. Texas honey beekeepers report that 2022 was the worst year for colony collapse.

Honey Bees, Bee, Flowers, Gaillardia, Insects, Nectar

What We Can Do

The city is the last refuge of the honeybee. Make sure that your yard is a bee haven:

I. Do not use pesticides in your garden.  Plant an organic garden without the pesticides that kill honeybees and other pollinators.

II. Provide a water source on your property – bees love clean water to drink! Use a shallow dish or bird bath with half submerged stones for perches.

III. If you see a swarm of bees or find a hive that needs to be removed in your neighborhood, contact a live-bee removal and re-homing service in your area. First determine if the hive is for bees.  Honeybees can be safely removed and re-homed with new urban beekeepers or community bee yards. If they are not honeybees, then you will need to contact a different kind of removal service.  See Rescue Bees for more information.

IV. Consider using beneficial insects for garden pest control.  For example, the Ladybugs are popular and are attracted to dill, dandelion, and fern leaf yellow.  See Gardener’s Path’s article, 23 Beneficial Insects Your Garden Will Love.  This guide is designed to help you determine whether the bug you see in your garden is harmful or helpful. 

Beneficial Insects Infographic

V. Use plants in your garden that attract and feed our helpful little friends.  Below is a list of plants that would work in most areas, but as in all plantings, refer to local garden clubs or county extensions for information on your zone criteria and native plantings. Native plants are the plant species that are naturally found in your region that provide bees with the nectar and pollen that are their only food source. Native plants are great choices for the garden, because they are adapted to the natural soil, rainfall and weather conditions of your region. Bees flourish with the right plants for your area.  I live in zone 9B which is very hot. Many of the plants I am listing will work well in most of the US but not necessarily zone 9 or 10. I am giving a suggested zone area for each plant.  Please double-check for the variety or species you are considering for your garden.

Currants: If you live in USDA zones 3-8 currant or gooseberry shrubs are a must for your garden provided they are allowed in your state. The pink flowers attract bees. The berries are edible and almost everyone can grow them. A mature currant or gooseberry shrub can produce up to four quarts of fruit annually. NOTE: Historically the black currant was banned in the US in 1911 due to a link to white pine blister rust disease.  It became an almost forgotten plant in the US. Its popularity in Europe has always been high. Later the US Federal ban was relinquished, and authority was shifted to states. Some states have lifted the ban, some have a permit system and some require varieties resistant to blister rust.  Check with your local authorities.  The Greener Grass Farm has a list of states and status as of 2015. Unfortunately, living in zone 9, I cannot grow a currant bush.

Currant Decorative, Bush, Flowering, Pink Flowers

Crocus: The crocus plant is hardy to USDA zones 3 to 8. An early spring bulb that bees enjoy.

Bee, Honey Bee, Crocus, Pollen, Pollination, Nectar

Hyacinths: are fragrant and appealing to pollinators. I’ve seen two different zone requirements – one is 4 to 9  and the other is 5 to 9. I think it depends on the specific variety. Be sure to buy bulbs for your zone.

Muscari, Grape Hyacinth, Flower, Plant, Springtime

Lilacs are a great treat for bees as they produce both pollen and nectar. They can grow in zones 3 to 9.

Lilac, Spring, Summer, Plant, Bloom, Purple, Violet

Pussy Willow Tree is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and is great for bees as it flowers early in spring.

Pussy Willow, Spring, Nature, Branch, Macro, Blooming

Rosemary (for zones 9 and 10):  Rosemary is a wonderful herb that can be used for culinary and medicinal purposes. Honeybees love this fragrant beauty and its beautiful purple flowersFor colder climates, rosemary must spend the winter indoors.

Rosemary, Blossoms, Blue, Violet

Sunflowers are one of the best flowers to plant for bees. They provide quality pollen and nectar for bees and seeds for birds, squirrels, and other wildlife. They are adaptable and can grow from Alaska to Hawaii.

Bee, Honey Bee, Insect, Flight, Flying, Sunflower

For a year round bee haven, choose from crocus, hyacinth, borage, calendula, and wild lilac for enticing spring blooms. Bees delight on bee balm, cosmos, echinacea, snapdragons, foxglove, and hosta in the summer. For fall, zinnias, sedum, asters, witch hazel, and goldenrod are late bloomers that will tempt foragers.

Lavenders, Bees, Pollinate, Pollination, Winged Insects
Bee, Insect, Flower, Pollen, Purple Flower, Honey Bee

Wishing you beauty and friendly buzzing visitors in your garden!

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I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

47 thoughts to “Make Your Garden A Bee Haven, Help Our Pollinators #1”

  1. I need to find plants for 10b. Poor bees. I see them dead everywhere. We also have a horrible white fly issue where we live, and have had one for at least 3-4 years. I have a tough time growing tomatoes in my screened in patio! I wonder if I could plant some things that ladybugs like then introduce them into my patio(?)

    1. That’s a possibility. I don’t know if it works for flies, but I spray my yard with a mix of essential oil of oregano and water. For a small spray bottle, mix 2 or 3 drops oil to full bottle of water and mist your plants. I use it to get rid of love bugs and Hawthorne/Golden Rain bugs. They’re heavy in my area of Central Florida. It doesn’t kill the bugs – they just hate it and leave. Your plants smell like oregano and an Italian restaurant (to me)!

    2. 2nd reply – For plants, I have great luck with periwinkle (also known as vinca) and pentas. If you get a penta in red, butterflies and bees love it. I had butterflies on my red penta all last summer into the fall. I’m still trying to find a plant that grows well here that lady bugs like. So many northern plants die in the hot Florida sun, as you know. Dill will grow in our zones in the winter but not the summer as it is too hot. Next winter plant dill seeds and place next to your tomatoes. Ladybugs like dill.It’s too hot now to grow them I think.

  2. What gorgeous bees & blooms here. Loved them all.
    Oh if you subscribe to my blog by e-mail you might want to resubscribe since I changed e-mail addresses again.

    1. Oh, I learned the hard way (getting stung) that playing with bees wasn’t good. Hope your youngest doesn’t follower her sister in that way.

  3. I love this! We are especially fond of bees in our garden. We also have a friend that is a bee keeper and we purchase our raw honey from them. Great post! Thank you for sharing at Dishing It & Digging It!

  4. Your images are beautiful and unfortunately we don’t see as many bees as when I was growing up. Thanks for sharing with us at #OvertheMoon Link party. I’ve pinned and shared.

  5. My garden is generally full of bees. I am always happy to see them. I have all of the flowers that you recommend. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  6. We have many flowers and shrubs that provide bees with nectar and my husband share articles on his website about protecting the bees, many people do not know how important bees are to our food chain.
    I would love to have you drop by and share your story on Oh My Heartsie Girl’s Friday Features.
    Have a great weekend!

  7. Good tips, Carol. We only use organic lawn and garden treatments because of our dogs. Your photographs are very nice.
    Happy pinks.

  8. Living rural as we do, we have a lot of pollinators. I am always happy to see someone spread the word on the danger we are in from the bee population colony collapse. Our azaleas attract them, and even though they are blooming too early now, there are bees all around them. Flowering trees are also good, redbuds attract a lot of pollinators too.

    1. I know your home has a great garden. I’ve been enjoying your blog for about a year. Thanks for the comment Carole.

  9. So many pretty flowers! So interesting too. I know they are important but I’m not massively keen on bees! Or anything that can hurt me hehe! Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

  10. I think it’s so important to attract and care for our honey bees. I bought a large buddleia last summer and it was lovely to see them buzzing around. I never thought to put water out for them though. Great idea and brilliant tips. Thanks for sharing with #DreamTeam x

  11. I had no idea there were so many bee species but I’m well aware that they are in danger. We don’t use pesticides and have a very wild garden which luckily attracts lots of bees, especially in the lavender. #goinggreenlinky

  12. Bees are vital to our survival and I’m so glad you shared this post! It’s really helpful and offers some really important information. I try to plant things that will attract bees, and here in the UK they are even setting up bee hives on the roofs of some of London’s iconic buildings in the hopes of encouraging the growth of the bee population. Thank you so much for sharing this post with us at Hearth and Soul.

  13. Lots of great info, Carol! We planted several of these flowers in our garden & the bees and butterflies love them. We are always happy to see them in our yard!

  14. We have some of those flowers already. I know we can and should do more. Bees are SO important. We don’t use any pesticides at all, because I know how bad they can be. Thanks for the helpful tips!

  15. Carol that was such an informative post. Thank you! We have many of these plants at our farm which is full of honeybees right now. I used to be afraid of them when I was younger, but now have learned to live in harmony with bees and make sure I stay out of their way. Wasps on the other hand are another story!

    1. I quite understand – I don’t like wasps either but they love my house. Every year they build somewhere I find and remove it.

  16. Thank you for sharing this information about the bees and linking up at the Friday at the Fire Station link-up! We have a small backyard but we need to try and plant some more flowers. Have a great week!

  17. This is such a good post and attracting bees to our gardens is so important. It is something we can all do too and even a window box or pot can have bee attracting plants in it. Off to share this post all over social media now!! Thank you for linking up with the #GoingGreenLinky. The next one opens on Mon May 1st and I hope you can join up again ??

  18. Great post. The bee problem has me really concerned. I don’t think people understand how vitally important bees are to our ecosystem. I have most of these flowers planted and love the beauty of them. Congratulations on being featured on #GoingGreenLinky. Pinned & tweeted your post. Have a healthy, happy & blessed day,

    1. Thanks for the pin and tweet. I share your concern and wonder why everyone is afraid of what’s happening.

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