Plant Selections for Bees

With spring just around the corner, this month we’re going to cover key recommendations for choosing plants for a bee garden. You don’t need to have a large space to create a pollinator feast, even a collection of small pots on your front steps will be appreciated by your neighbourhood bees. The following are a few things to keep in mind to make the most of your space.

Variety – A variety of plants will cater to a wider variety of bee species. Ideally, you should have at least three different plants blooming at all times. Early spring and late fall are particularly important for bees.

Large Plantings – Bees are drawn to large blocks of colour where flowers are easier to see and efficient to pollinate. Aim to plant each type of flower in a mass at least one meter in diameter.

Open Spaces – Bees visit open, sunny locations more frequently — think bee meadows! Focusing on these areas will be most successful, though flowers in shady areas are appreciated too.

Native Perennials – Native bees have evolved alongside native plants, so are uniquely suited to one-another. Perennials are also great as a garden foundation because they return each year. 

It’s important to remember that this is a guideline. If you have a garden full of non-natives that you love, don’t worry! Gardening is about creating a space that brings you joy and bees are happy to visit most blooming plants. Just keep the above tips in mind if you want to make a few adjustments or to ensure you have consistent blooms.

If you’re wondering where to start, ABC Bees has created a list of Top Ten Plants for Alberta bees. They are all native perennials and fairly easy to get your hands on. You may also notice that they are all blue, purple, yellow or white. Bees are unable to see the red and are therefore more attracted to these colours.

  • Prairie Crocus
  • Smooth Blue Beard Tongue
  • Milkvetch
  • Wild Bergamot
  • Alpine Hedysarum
  • Fleabane
  • Lupine
  • Prairie Goldenrod
  • Aster (a great choice for some picky solitary bees)
  • Purple Coneflower

For more information about gardening for bees and site specific plant lists, check out our Little Book on Bees.

If you’re looking for great local plant varieties, don’t miss Seedy Saturday on March 18th, 2017.

  • Cherry Dodd
    Posted at 18:24h, 16 March Reply

    Great information. For Central Alberta, add Slender Blue Beardtongue and Low Goldenrod and Stiff goldenrod.

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