ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Attract Bees to Your Garden

Updated on October 17, 2012

Want a healthier, more abundant garden? Welcome native bees into your yard. These super-efficient pollinators work cheap. Just give them safe room & board.


Attract pollinators to your landscape, and you'll dramatically increase its health and productivity, particularly if you grow flowers, fruits, and vegetables.

Because nature knows the wisdom of diversity, most plants don't self-pollinate. If they want to survive and thrive, they require the assistance of a pollinator, whether it's the wind, an animal, or an insect.

Ants, bats, birds, butterflies, lizards, moths, possums (even slugs!) are just a few pollinators that may frequent your garden. Bees, however, are the most effective of them all, particularly native bees.

According to C.D. Michener's Bees of the World , there are approximately 20,000 species of bees globally. About 4,000 of them are native to the U.S.--and that doesn't include the much-beleaguered honeybee, Apis mellifera. It's a European native.

Bees especially like purple, blue & yellow flowers. Pictured: purple coneflower.
Bees especially like purple, blue & yellow flowers. Pictured: purple coneflower. | Source

Native bees are good at what they do, diligently pollinating our flower, fruit, and vegetable crops for nothing more than room and board: a pesticide-free landscape with nesting areas and all the pollen and nectar they can handle.

So the next time you see a hairy bumblebee wallowing in your roses or a stolid Mason bee dutifully visiting your apple blossoms, don't grab the swatter. And for heaven's sake don't reach for the bug spray. Instead, be thankful for the visit. And do what you can to assure that these hard-working pollinators come back to your yard again and again.

Choose plants with yellow, purple, & blue flowers.

Bees are most attracted to nectar-filled flowers in yellow, purple, and blue. They also like aromatic plants, even minty ones.

Many of the flowers bees adore have ultra-violet nectar guides humans can't see. The bright yellow nectar guides on this snapdragon blossom, however, are easy to spot.
Many of the flowers bees adore have ultra-violet nectar guides humans can't see. The bright yellow nectar guides on this snapdragon blossom, however, are easy to spot. | Source

Many of the flowers bees love have landing platforms, too, which make it easy for them to enter the flowers and gather nectar. Often the flowers are tubular with nectar at the tube's base. Snapdragon is a good example of a tube-shaped flower with a landing platform. Toadflax also has this unique shape.

Other bee-attracting flowers, such as sunflowers and black-eyed Susans, have patterns on them called nectar guides. These guides direct pollinators to the flower’s nectar and its pollen.

Most of the patterns are visible in ultraviolet (UV) light only, so we can’t see them. However, nectar guides are clearly visible to bees and other insects that can see UV light. Buttercups, for instance, look yellow to us, but a bee can see the flower's dark UV center that leads to its nectar.

Bee-Attracting Plants for Every Zone

Hardiness Zones
Blue Mint (Zizophora clinopodioides) 
Mint-scented shrub with blue, thyme-like blossoms. Does well in poor soil. 
Blue Mist (Caryopteris)
Partial shade to full-sun shrub with showy blue flowers.
Coreopsis or Tickseed (Coreopsis grandiflora) 
Full-sun yellow perennial, drought-resistant & easy to grow. 
Bird's Eyes (Gilia tricolor) 
Non-invasive, lavender & white wildflower annual. 
Gumplant (Grindelia robusta)
Yellow flowers & "gummy" leaves. Sun-loving & drought tolerant.
Lapland Rosebay (dodendron lapponicum)
A cold hardy rhododendron with fragrant purplish flowers. Relies upon bees for pollination.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) 
Fragrant violet, purple, or white blooms.
4-10 (cultivars vary) 
Sunset Hyssop (Agastache rupestris)
Full-sun perennial bush with trumpet-shaped orange, pink, & purple blooms.
 Toadflax (Linaria)
Annual spring bloomer that resembles a miniature snapdragon. 

Leave some ground un-mulched.

Many bees are ground nesters. They lay eggs and store food in underground tunnels. By mulching heavily, you'll prevent them from nesting near (and pollinating) your fruits, vegetables, and flowers. To provide homes for these ground nesters, mulch some beds very lightly. Better yet, leave at least a few un-mulched.

Create a diverse landscape of continuous blooms.

According to researchers, bees are most attracted to landscapes that contain a variety of their favorite plants. They're also most attracted to those in which their favorite flowers are planted in clumps, probably because that's how they occur in nature. You'll also increase your yard's bee population if at least a few flowers are in bloom from early spring through fall.

Use lots of native plants.

Unless a bee is a specialist (like the squash bee) it won't care whether your flowers are natives or not. But it will care if they're covered in poison. That's why, when choosing plants for your landscape, it's best to pick primarily indigenous species. Native plants are less likely to require pesticides, which you should avoid in order to maintain a bee-friendly yard.

For a few bee favorites in your growing zone, see the "Bee Attracting Plants" chart to your right. An expert at your local nursery is also an excellent source of information about the bee-attracting trees, shrubs, and flowers that grow best where you live.

Don't know your region's hardiness zone? If you live in North America, consult this map, provided by the United States National Arboretum. For links to other regions of the world, visit the Morton Arboretum.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)