Flowers Garden

Flowers to Help Bees Help Your Garden

Honey bees are not the only bees in trouble. Our native bees are also in decline. The use of pesticides known to be deadly to bees has been linked to the dangerous decline in pollinator populations.

If anything could bring the world to its knees it’s the disappearance of all the bees. Man could not survive very well – if at all – without bees, one of the most important players in the ecosystem chain.

Asclepias (native butterfly weed) with native bees.

The sad part is that the cause and the consequences are known. And yet the people “in charge” and responsible are so ruled by the dollar they do nothing to stop this disaster in the making. But — that’s another story.

The Good News

The good news is — you can help the bees. Almost quite literally you can help “your” bees. I term it that way because bees only range about 2 miles from their nest. So the ones you see in your garden live in your area, if not in your yard!

Your Help Accomplishes More Than One Thing

At the same time you’ll help the other beneficial insects that attack the bad bugs in your garden since they all need nectar and pollen. Nectar is a bees main source of energy. Pollen provides the proteins and fats they need. Beneficial predator insects need nectar and pollen when the pests they feed on are not available.

Beneficial wasp on daisy. The picture is blurred, but I want to show you this little wasp.

Flowers that Produce More Pollen and Nectar

When planning what flowers you want to beautify your garden and help the bees and beneficials, choose those that produce the most pollen and nectar. Hybridized plants won’t always accomplished the mission. In many cases, hybridization has reduced the flower’s production of pollen and nectar.

These pink and purple New England Asters are natives.

Native Plants or Plants Derived from Natives

Native plants and plants derived from natives attract more native bees. Plants like Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Goldenrod (Solidago), Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea), Sunflower (Helianthus) and Asters are great ones to start out. Flat headed flowers like yarrow, queen anne’s lace, tansy, dill and parsley are especially good.

Solidago (goldenrod) and sedum in bloom on the left.

Different Strokes for Different Folks (sorry — I meant Different Strokes for Different Bees )

There are thousands of species of bees in our country. They’re all a bit different and feed on different shaped flowers. So when choosing your plants provide a range of flower shapes so more bees can benefit.

Echinacia (purple coneflowers) started to open in late spring.

They Need to Eat All Season

Choose a selection of plants that will offer bloom (thus, pollen and nectar) through the entire growing season (spring, summer and fall). Try planting at least 3 of each. The clumps, of course, will attract more pollinators than an individual plant.

Give the Good Guys a Chance

Don’t use pesticides. Even some of the ones listed for organic gardeners can kill beneficials as well as the bad guys. Give the good guys a chance to live to get the job done.

Diversify Even with Color

The colors blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow are said to be particularly attractive to bees.

The flat heads of yarrow.

If You Want a Better Harvest

And take note – when you help the bees and other beneficials, you help yourself as well. Studies have shown that plants — even self pollinating plants — produce more fruit after being visited by the bees.

Help the Bees and Help Your Garden

When you’re planning your vegetable garden plan flowers as well.  Make your garden (and your yard for that matter) a haven for our native bees and beneficial insects.  Not only will your property and garden be more beautiful, but your small friends will repay you a thousand fold for providing them with food, water and shelter.


To get you started here’s a short list of some plants that Beneficial Insects and Pollinators find especially attractive.


garlic chives
golden marguerite (Anthemis Tenctoria) (this is one of the best) also known as yellow camomile
English lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)

Cover Crops

crimson clover
Hairy vetch

Wild Natives

butterfly weed (Asclepias Tuberosa)
Queen Anne’s Lace


corn poppy
california poppy


New England Asters
catmint (Nepeta)
coneflowers (Echinacea)
goldenrod (Solidago)
sunflowers (Helianthus)
prairie sunflower (Helianthus Maximiliani)
yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
yarrow (Achillea Fillipendulina)


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  • I am new to your blog, and am enjoying it very much. I love today’s pictures. I would love to see more photos of your veggie gardens as summer progresses. It’s easy to find pictures of flowers gardens, people rarely photograph the stages of vegetable gardens through the summer. Thanks for a great post today!

  • Hi Kim,

    Sure nice to have you as a new reader and am so happy you are enjoying TMG. Appreciate your comments very much.

    Today’s pictures – especially the first one – is one of my all time favorites.

    I try to show things through all stages and with your encouragement will try to do that even more. I think most of the time folks get one shot at showing something and they want to show it at its best — and so do I — but I try to show the beginning and end as well.

    Welcome to TMG and thank you again for taking time to comment.


  • Thank you for that list. I need to do all I can for my honeybees and all other bees.

  • It’s not all inclusive Beppy, but its a good start and I’m glad you can use it.

    How exciting that you have your bees now. Keep me posted. You know I’m interested.


  • I love watching the Bumble Bees! They get so busy, they never notice me. I have found they loved my purple coneflowers. A few times I had one spend the night on a flower. Still resting there in the morning. Too tired to return to the nest? Then later in the season they switch to my Stone Crop. I have about 6 large plants of those. I get more of a variety of bees on the Stone Crop.

  • I hardly had any bees in my yard this summer even with a lot of flowers. Although as the season progressed I did see more and more. The best thing that happened as far as attracting bees goes was the blooming of my largest stonecrop sedum. I inherited a few (unidentified) varieties with the house but this one is tall, slightly reddish leaves and a creamy flower, and as soon as it started to open the bees and butterflies have been swarming it nonstop. I highly suggest sedums like this to bee gardens! Plus they are tough as nails and drought tolerant.

  • Thanks for your comment Anna.
    Bees really do LOVE sedums, as do all kinds of insects and butterflies. They’re a must for the garden and the flower border!

  • Theresa,
    Did you start your New England Asters from seed? I haven’t seen them for sale as plants around here in years. I really want some for my garden. I’m trying to greatly increase my flowers in the vegetable garden. I’ve included sunflowers, borage, Marigolds,Johnny Jump Ups, Golden Marguerite, Shasta Daisies & was just getting ready to plant Dill when the rain chased me inside.
    I already have a rose, several English Lavender plants, Thyme, daylily, & 4 or 5 other perennials I planted last year. I have a sage plant & several other flowers in a small circular bed in the middle of our vegetable garden. (You should have heard Alfred complaining about how that would be in the way of his tilling!)
    I have plenty of Queen Anne’s Lace & many other flowers in a circle garden just steps from the vegetable garden gate as well as dandelions & clover self-seeded in places inside the garden.
    I’ve also heard that Tansy & comfrey can become invasive. I really want to grow the Comfrey to use the leaves as mulch around plants that need a boost. What has been your experience with those two?
    Thank you so much for taking the time to help ANYONE who is trying to raise their own food.

  • Betty,
    My asters were started from roots rather than seed.
    I sell perennials and I have the asters. (I’ll email you.)
    Sounds like you’re doing wonderfully with your selection of plants.

    Soon Alfred won’t be able to till. 🙂

    I have tansy, but easily keep it under control by digging out the circle of increase each spring. The roots are strong but I don’t find it difficult to remove.

    Comfrey I don’t grow; so can’t tell you much about it.

    And you are welcome. I’m always happy to help.

  • Theresa,
    One more question. Did you plant ALL of the flowers in the pictures in clumps of 3s? Some I can pretty much see they are, but just wondering about the ones I can’t see. I can’t wait to amp up the “Flower Power”! Thanks again,

  • Betty, it’s not always necessary to plant in groups of 3. If one is not familiar with the plant, it can be quicker to plant in groups of 3 and see what the plants are going to do for you. You can always move them.
    For example, in poorer soil the gardener may want to plant asters in groups of 3. It’s been my experience that only one is necessary in rich soil because they get huge. My ones in the border (poorer soil) are nice, but much smaller.
    Also, a lot depends on the look you want to achieve.
    For example, I plant sedums in groups of 3s for a spectacular look, but other times I’ll plant just one to “break up” various plants.
    Hope this helps.

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