Posts tagged: encourage bees

Top 10 Plants To Encourage Bees To Your Garden

Top 10 Plants To Encourage Bees To Your Garden Photo – Fir0002/Flagstaffotos (Wikimedia) – lic. under CC-BY-3.0

The tragic decline of bee populations has been very prominent in the news recently – and we featured a detailed article about the legal battle over the pesticides which many believe are responsible. However today we bring some good news, which is that you can help bee populations by choosing plants that they love!

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Top 10 Plants To Encourage Bees To Your Garden
Graphic – Images – Pixabay (PD)

It’s not only honey that bees can give us – we rely on pollinators for growing many of our common fruit and vegetable crops worldwide. There are in fact many factors that have caused bee populations to decline. As mentioned, it’s believed partly due to the widespread use of pesticides (some garden plant suppliers, particularly in the US, still use neonicotinoids routinely so please check that your plants are pesticide-free before buying. Otherwise, don’t be afraid to try somewhere else – we need bees!). Choosing organic produce in the stores or growing your own will make a difference too.

Another big factor in the bees decline is the destruction of wild habitats and, while we’re on the subject, please resist tidying up dead hollow plant stems until the spring – they can provide a good over-wintering place for solitary bees and other beneficial insects.

Some species of bumble bee are becoming rare due to a massive reduction of wildflower meadows in modern agriculture. Each species has a different size of tongue so they will visit different types of flower but occasionally a short-tongued species will bite through a deep flower to reach the nectar! Generally speaking they also prefer single flowering native species.

Related: How To Attract Butterflies To Your Yard

We should all give consideration now to providing additional opportunities to bees. This is not too difficult and many of the bees favourite flowers happen to be ours too! Here is a top 10 list of bee favorites:

1. Lavender (Lavandula spp.) – A very popular flower (it’s the one in the image above) for bees and humans alike, this perennial will flower all summer long. Lavender is ideal to grow next to a path so you can enjoy the scent and watch the bees every time you walk past it.

2. Apple Trees – A favourite source of nectar for honey bees, who will pollinate your fruit crop at the same time as feeding – it’s a true win-win! Planting more fruit trees at home will also save some food miles.

3. Borage (Borago officinalis) – also known as “Starflower” due to it’s pretty five-petalled flowers, this is an annual herb. It can self-seed readily in cultivated ground so shouldn’t need to be planted again every year. The leaves are edible as are the vivid blue flowers, which look great in a salad! It is a favourite of honey bees and many species of bumble bee.

4. Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) – A fantastic plant that will attract a variety of bees to your garden. It can also be made into a rich compost or liquid fertiliser that is high in potassium, ideal for promoting the growth of fruit and flowers. It’s sometimes used to make an ointment that aids healing of bones and soft tissue, hence it’s old name “Knitbone”.

5. Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) – another easy to grow plant that will thrive in a border and can be used as a ground-cover plant. As well as feeding bees your clover will fix nitrogen from the air and feed the soil. Red Clover Tea is rich in nutrients and is said to have many medicinal benefits, especially during menopause.

6. Bee balm (Monarda spp.) – An edible plant of the mint family, this can be used to make tea, salad or dried flowers but make sure you leave enough for the bees and butterflies! If you’re lucky enough to be in an area that has hummingbirds, this flower is one of the best to bring them in to your garden.

7. Viper’s Bugloss (Echium vulgare) – This is a reliable source of food for all sorts of bees with repeated flowerings through the season and the later flowering will give them a good supply for over-wintering.

8. Snowdrop (Galanthus) – Snowdrops are very early to flower so will give bees a source of food when it’s hard to find. The single flowered varieties of snowdrops (not hybridised, fancy ones) are best for bees – this is also true for other flower species.

9. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) – It’s a delight to watch bees disappear into the deep flowers of a foxglove. This biennial plant is very easy to grow in most soils and prefers some shade. It will self-seed and the plants are easy to move around in their first year, ready to produce their tall flower spikes the following year.

10. Greater Knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa) – It doesn’t sound like much but this UK native wildflower looks great, producing a lot of large purple flowers on a tall stem.

More: Heather, buddleia (also very popular with butterflies).

Further Reading

Cultivating your own wildflower meadow can be a very rewarding venture and will really help these rarer bumble bees to survive. Find out more here:

If you’re looking for an extensive list of favourite plants for bees, please try one of these links – these lists show the flowering seasons so you can choose plants to attract bees for as many months as possible:

Urgent: Save The Bees

Save The BeesBackground photo –

This is pretty serious stuff. Bayer might be about to overturn the EC’s decision to ban the pesticides implicated in killing off the bees! If they win this case, it could be truly disastrous for both the bees and our own future. Please share, and please see the SumOfUs link below (no affiliation) to make a donation to help the campaign to save the bees:

Early in 2013, the European Food Safety Authority stated that three specific neonicotinoid insecticides (imidacloprid, clothianidin, and thiamethoxam) pose an acute risk to honeybees, and the European Commission proposed a two-year ban on them.

This is due to go into effect on Dec 1st – and the ban was introduced because of mounting scientific evidence that these insecticides, produced by Syngenta and Bayer, have been the agents responsible for Colony Collapse Disorder – a major problem threatening both the bees and the safety of our own food supply!

However in a horrifying twist, and despite huge public opposition, Syngenta and Bayer are now suing the European Commission over their “right” to continue to produce the pesticides which have been implicated in the massive die-off of millions of bees. Yes, their “right”. Because as we know, corporations’ sole agenda is to make money. They cannot let a trivial thing like nature get in their way.

Related: Top 10 Plants To Encourage Bees To Your Garden

These insecticides continue to be produced and used on a vast scale in the USA and in other countries and are huge moneymakers for the chemical corporations.

Do these people even care? Surely, given the severity of the potential consequences, these poisons should now be considered unsafe until proven safe, not the other way round! In the minds of many, there is no doubt that they are the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, but a two year ban will surely provide the necessary proof. If the colony collapses cease, then we will know for sure that it was the insecticides. So, why is Bayer so frightened? Do they fear that the two year ban might indeed prove that their insecticides are the cause, and that it will thus lead to a global moratorium?

History has shown repeatedly that pesticide manufacturers will pull out all the stops to keep their hideous toxins legal for as long as possible. They are old pros at ramming their agenda through the political system – and they mean business.

One of the things we keep on hearing is “If the bees go, we go too” but although this has a lot of truth to it, to be honest I find this attitude selfish and egocentric. Bees are lovely, amazing creatures! Does it not matter whether they die out regardless of whether this will affect your own personal chances of survival? (And yes, they are an essential part of the production of around 1/3 of our food. Without them, we have a huge, huge problem.)

Have we become so lost and blinded by greed that we can no longer appreciate the majesty, mystery and beauty of nature?

It is this that I believe we must not lose sight of. The modern “corporate mindset” has attempted to dismiss nature as something superfluous, mechanical and irrelevant to their insane goal of making money regardless of the consequences. They have reduced nature with their “science” to machine status – declaring it to be an apparently random “accident” with no more soul than a giant automaton; and therefore (well, how very convenient!) they are “permitted” to exploit it as they please. Because nature, according to them, feels no true pain and is somehow less alive than we are.

Do not for one minute think that I am anti-science: Far from it. It is just that what the corporate lunatics call “science” is not science at all – it is technology. They hide behind the moniker of science as if it gives them some kind of holy sanction – but corporate technologists are NOT scientists! They have no actual interest in truth at all! They are simply driven by their bosses’ need for “marketable products” and will exploit the system by whatever means they possibly can in order to get their way.

This soulless agenda is a monstrosity of the very worst kind imaginable – and is ultimately based on a confused set of ideals regarding the true nature of wealth. While some might argue that the true nature of wealth is a bank account with a string of ten zeros piled up in a row behind a one, I counter this idiotic notion in full seriousness. What good is all the money in the world if there is no nature? How rich will you be when there is no pure air, no pure water and no pure food? How will all the money in the world help you if there is nothing left to eat that is not a mutated pile of toxic, chemicalized garbage? Or do you not care, so long as it happens to someone in another hemisphere first and you still get your slice of (plastic-wrapped, artifically-flavored) pie?

You might think I am out on a rant but it really is this serious: If we permit the death-dealing, tyrannical corporate forces to take over our world, the world itself will go dark and we will enter a matrix-like existence where you and I will end up chipped, owned, operated and fully subsumed by the machine. It won’t be fun.

Killing important, wonderful creatures like bees is not just a tragedy, it is a crime of the very highest order. They are simply not ours to exploit. We are supposed to be their guardians, not their destroyers!

Do you want to live in a world without nature? Do you? This is what is at stake, so please do something… thank you.

Here is the link (no affiliation) to the campaign from SumOfUs (a registered 501(c)4 non-profit) where you can donate to support the bees. Please help in whatever way you can, and thank you:

ps. Another useful thing you can do is to plant flowers that bees love. Here is a short list:

Asters, Marigolds, Poppies, Geraniums, Heathers, Borage, Buddleia, Calliopsis, Viper’s Bugloss, Clover, Cosmos, Foxglove, Hollyhocks, Hyacinth, Mahonia, Roses, Sedums, Snowdrops, Crocuses, Dahlias, Sunflowers, Zinnias.

See also: Ways To Encourage Bees To Your Garden