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The Best Plants to Attract Bees

Bees are essential to a garden. Without their help in pollinating plants, there would be few flowers or vegetables. There are many things we can do to make our gardens more attractive to bees. One of the simplest is to grow plants that are rich in nectar and pollen. Not all plants provide these two basic needs. Many modern hybrids are sterile and don’t offer any sustenance to bees. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful garden and still encourage bees to visit it. The following plants are both lovely and offer a food source for bees

 
Giant Hyssop (Agastache rugosa)
Rachel Husband / Getty Images

Not only is anise hyssop rich in nectar, it blooms for weeks and keeps several species of bees busy feeding. The honey from bees that forage on anise hyssop is very sweet

 
Asters - fall Blooming Flowers

Stick with native asters, like Michaelmas, or New England, daisies. Since they bloom late in the season, they help bees stock up on energy, before winter

 
Growing Fresh Basil
Marie Iannotti

You will need to resist harvesting and allow some of your basil plants to flower. If you do, stand back; they will be covered with hungry, happy bees

 
Black-eyed Susans: Rudbeckia 'Goldsturm'
Courtesy of The National Garden Bureau

These garden staples are part of the aster family. There are many good species of Rudbeckia, in a variety of heights. Their yellow color will help attract bees to your garden.

 

 
California Lilac (Ceanothus)
Neil Holmes / Getty Images

Ceanothus is a genus with over 50 species, most of which are native to North America. The blue varieties in particular, like the California lilac, are magnets for all types of bees, including honeybees

 

Clover (Trifolium)

Bee on White Clover
Michel Rauch / Getty Images

Both white and red clover are excellent flowers for bees. Scatter seed in your lawn and allow them to forage. The clover will do double duty, providing your lawn with a source of nitrogen

 

Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster)

Cotoneaster Flowers
Philippe S. Giraud / Getty Images

Cotoneaster is a favorite of native bumblebees. If you can plant more than one variety, there will be flowers for them to visit all season

 

Currant (Ribes)

How to Grow Currants and Goosberries

Currents and their cousin, gooseberries, are early bloomers and provide a food source before a lot of other flowers are open. They appeal to a wide variety of bees. Gooseberries are great for smaller bees and are also popular with hummingbirds

Elderberry (Sambucus)
Klaus Honal / Getty Images

Look for the less cultivated varieties of Elderberry. Many of the more ornamental hybrids on the market now, are not good food sources for bees. Bumblebees will seek out the wilder varieties

 
Lavender.jpg
Tim Graham Getty Images News

Lavender flowers are rich in nectar and bloom in mid-summer when bees are most active. The honey from bees who feed on lavender has a wonderful floral flavor

 

Globe thistle (Echinops)

Although its common name suggests a thistle, Echinops is actually in the

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