Woodland, hedgerows, meadows and verges have been disappearing at an alarming rate and parts of the countryside are now green deserts with very few wild flowers so bees need your help!  

It doesn't matter if your garden is a balcony, allotment, window box, hanging basket, pots and tubs or a swathe of green open space; with a bit of thought pollinators can benefit from a banquet of pollen and nectar right throughout the year.

Choose plants with single, open flowers for easy access to the pollen and nectar.

Top Ten flowers you should plant

to attract bees

Hellebore species and hybrids

Helleborus species are tolerant of most conditions, they prefer
moist, well drained alkaline soil in dappled shade. 

Salvia species

Salvias are sun-loving plants and good drainage is essential. They look
very striking in a mixed border. 

Echinacea

A long-flowering border perennial which is easy to grow.
It is an excellent plant for pollinators, rich in nectar through late summer and autumn.

Rudbeckia laciniata

Striking larger plant. Easy to grow if given full sun or partial shade and a
moderately fertile soil.

Lavandula species

Lavender is ideal for a mixed border, but it also makes a fantastic edging plant. Lavender really
needs sun, well-drained soil. 

Galanthus nivalis Common Snowdrop

A delicate little flower often covered in snow, but a
vital source for pollen and nectar.

Crocus species (winter-flowering)

Easy to grow and look beautiful in containers or in groups on a lawn. An early
source of pollen for the bees. 

Cosmos

Cosmos have edible flowers. Simply scatter the seeds
and these freely flowering annual plants will spring up. 

Sedum species

Sedums are hardy, easy to care for and make great cut flowers.

Verbena species

Verbena will thrive in full sun, well drained soil and relatively dry conditions and will
attract many pollinators.

You can find more information in our downloadable BBKA leaflet Ten favourite flowers to attract Honey Bees  

Why newly bred flowers don't suit bees 

For keen gardeners who want to go a bit deeper, read Sarah Holdsworth's BBKA News article about the impact of different cultivated varieties. Sarah is a horticulturist and beekeeper:

"A major consideration will be our choice of plants. Perhaps, little over one hundred years ago, this would have been a simple process of elimination arriving at the most desirable plants which are open-pollinated; that is pollinated by insects, usually bees, which transfer pollen from flower to flower leading to fruit and seed set. Now, we are faced with a plethora of red herrings. Looking for the perfect plants for bees and other pollinators has become much harder than our grandparents could possibly have imagined.

"One reason for this is that plant breeding has become a competitive hobby and big business. Most ornamental plants now for sale in garden centres are modern hybrids known as cultivars. They are bred for certain traits such as dwarfing, larger blooms, different colours or double blooms. They are propagated on a large scale by vegetative cutting, which means they are genetically identical. They have no need for pollinators, most produce no nectar or pollen and most are sterile.

"Of the few modern cultivars that do produce nectar, e.g. some modern lavender cultivars, their phytochemical constituents including nectar and pollen have been altered at a genetic level, and may not have the same properties as their wild forebears. It has been observed by some beekeepers that bees prefer to visit the original wild form of Lavandula angustifolia than its modern cultivars. Research also shows that bees and animals respond in a similar way as humans to phytochemicals in medicinal plants, such as those with antibiotic or antifungal properties. It is interesting to note that bees often seem to favour plants with medicinal properties."

Download article here

Bee & Bee Map

If you have a large garden you may be able to help a local beekeeper by providing a space for a hive or two. Contact our office to express an interest [email protected] The map is here: https://www.bbka.org.uk/bee-friends

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