What Are The Best Flowers To Plant For Bees?
Every day at my local farmer's market, customers ask me what they can do to help the bee population. They want to know where to buy bees from, where to position their hives, how to build their own hives, etc. And yet, I always give the same answer.. "Slow down and start with planting flowers. The more flowers, the better!"
The truth is, it depends when you are planting and how much room you have to work with. But here is a general guide for you to follow:
In early Summer, we have had a ton of luck with a couple different perennials - (purple) Coneflowers and Common Yarrows. The coneflowers are present all over middle American grasslands and tend to also draw butterflies. You will typically see them in bloom from June to July. The Common Yarrow has a flat head with a daisy type appearance. The 'Strawberry Seduction' variety is a favorite of the bees most likely because of it's bright coloring.
In mid-Summer, Black-eyed Susans, Horsemint, and Blue Giant Hyssops are in favor (all perennial). The nice thing about these blooms is that they are present across much of the US and European temperate zones (Blue Hyssops especially in the Northern US). Horsemint (perennial) has a very long bloom cycle. This is ideal for amateur gardeners who want more bees because the bees can return to the same patch for up to three months.
What about the Fall
Then, once Fall rolls around, if you have planted Asters (perennial), the colony will shift that way. Asters have a ton of varieties so take your pick of the ones that are most appealing. From my own research, I keep reading that the "October Sky' variety seems to be very popular.
Want some more ideas? Here is a video I tripped across that will make some more great suggestions!