What are the very best plants for bees in YOUR garden? (And I mean ALL bees, not just Honeybees and bumblebees)
Check out my blog today (http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/wildlife/homesforwildlife/b/gardeningforwildlife/archive/2012/06/29/a-bee-c-of-gardening.aspx), where I reveal my top five.
My Homes for Wildlife enewsletter that should reach many of you today is on the same subject - see, I've gone 'all joined up thinking' ;-)
Look forward to hearing your recommendations
If you want to drop by my RSPB wildlife gardening blog, it is updated every Friday, and I'd love to see you there - www.rspb.org.uk/community/blogs/hfw
This is a subject close to my heart because I am shortly moving house and want to make the garden 'insect-friendly', particularly focusing on bees and butterflies. I watched the TV programme earlier this year that encouraged people to plant for insects and was inspired!
In the past I have found that bees enjoy lavender, hebe, cotoneaster and ivy. I learnt from the TV series that single dahlias are popular too.
Your blog is very interesting and I will refer back to it when I have moved, which should be happening in about three weeks. A bit late for doing anything this year, I know, but I can plan!
A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Bees in my garden go mad for the buddleia and lavender.
Hardy Geranium in my garden are always bustling with bees. Hebe , Buddleia and Cotoneaster , already mentioned , are superb for bees.
My gallery here
Checkout the forums' Community HOMEPAGE for lots of interesting posts from other members.
The ceonothus in our garden has been alive with bees for a good few weeks now as has our erysimum. If a bee-eater visited, it would be spoilt for choice!!
Yes, Rach, I struggle to find a bad single dahlia for bees. The Bishop series and the Happy series are both brilliant - and easy to grow, whether in borders or big pots.
Ah, yes, the buddleias. Buddleia globosa, the golden ball buddleia, is in flower down here at the moment, and is great for bumbles and Honeybees.
We had foxgloves flowering for the first time this year and the bumblebees couldn't get enough of them.
Seriously thinking about trying harder!
Vipers bugloss, buddlia, lupins and a wee bargain weeping cotoneaster tree I got for a tenner are frequented by bees.
Here's my top ten.....
You can't beat Verbinas in my view. The two best varieties are Verbena bonariensis & Verbena Hastata (pictured).....
Achellea.....Provide a good landing platform for butterflies & bees and lots of tiny flowers rich in nectar....
Rudbekia Goldsturm is a great flower for late summer nectar (sorry look a bit tatty in this picture).....
Astrantia is a brilliant and extremely under rated insect plant, I have just found out this weekend that Meadow Browns love them!....
Sedum, again great for late summer bees & insects...
Corn Marigolds are one of the best insect attracting annual wild flowers in my opinion and I grow about 50+ plugs from seed every year and then plant then in my wild flower lawn but I also always put a few in the borders to attract the bees.... quite a few beetles seem to like these also!.....
Buddleja (Butterfly Bush) Does what it says on the tin!....
Let a few 'weeds' grow in your garden also, some are really pretty like this Meadow Thistle and most attract lots of bees and butterflies!.....
Daisy varieties attract lots of interest and I've found Ox-eye Daisy to be good this year....
Finally if you have Clover in your lawn let it grow, this is a good source of early nectar for bees particularly in Spring when not much else is open....
Hope this is helpful to a few.
A border of Nepeta "Six Hills Giant" is another good bee attractor, but agree that Verbena Bonariensis is one of the best.
"The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom" - Wlliam Blake
Fab photos, Higgy - thanks so much for sharing. I think it is quite telling that your Corn Marigold and Ox-eye Daisy photos both have hoverflies - flat-headed flowers seem so important for them with their short tongues.
Oh I absolutely love bees. I only got into gardening last year and for some reason, the names would really confuse me or seem very difficult to remember but this year I've had no problems so can finally, and happily, contribute to these sorts of discussions. Agree on everything here and will add:
Ceanothus - as mentioned already, absolutely great. I have a small tree and a shrub type (don't know their names as they were here before I started my big planting frenzy). Very good for spring (or that's when mine flower anyway) and swarming in bees.
Weigela - not sure on the spelling. Very pretty pink small tree type. They absolutely love this.
Salvia Caradonna - this is, so far, my number one bumblebee and honeybee plant. I'd absolutely kill for some Viper's Bugloss but can't find it anywhere other than from specialist wildflower centres and all the ones I've called have sold out. But this salvia is excellent. Very hardy, easy to cut back and neat and will, if you trim them right, just keep delivering all summer. This is the plant, along with the fox-gloves, they'll go for the most reliably.
Cotoneaster - the plant that just keeps giving. Bees love it, birds love the berries, grows in the sun or shade, clay, dust. No problems. Absolutely terrific plant. Absolutely swarming in bmblebees when it's in flower.
Pulmonaria - my trusty little spring plants. If I had to recommend one, I'd go for the Diane Clara as this is very tough, seems to have no problems with powdery mildew, and the one they seemed to like the most. Had really large bumblebees on this in the spring which I'll assume were queens.
Aquilegia - Another spring one but mine have only just gone into seed so I reckon I must have had a very good year with them. The dragon-fly one is beautiful and they absolutely love them.
Scabiosa - probably my favourite flower. The blue types specifically. Really pretty. Another massive bee feeder and especially liked by the bigger bumbles.
Astilbe - I didn't think any would bother with this but, rather interestingly, have had a lot of attention for it from the few solitary bees I've got (and am desperately trying to get to nest).
Foxgloves - Put in a few of the new Illumination Pinks (sterile and perennial) and they've gone crazy for them. Also the Camelot Lavender and white ones (really unsure on names, sorry). They love these on rainy days because they get to feed and not get their bums wet. The Illumination Pink also puts up quite a few flower stalks quite prolifically. Very happy with it.
Erysimum - Also mentioned above. Very pretty, very reliable, isn't actually in as much sun as it could probably do with but happily getting along and still producing masses of flowers. Another bee favourite.
Nemesia - I've got this dotted around so they have something to get to if they need to be closer to the ground (as on windy days we've had recently). Lovely, delicate, much tougher than it looks.
Lavender and thyme in pots - also as mentioned, very reliable and they love it.
Pyrocantha - growing this as a hedge/screen on one side. Little flower they seemed to like and produces bonus berries for the birds later in the year apparently.
Rhodedenron - Doesn't flower very long but at that period just coming out of spring into summer so very useful. For some reason, they really love them in the morning and then ignore it for the rest of the day. Quite interesting.
Dicentra Alba - Another useful spring one. Very interesting. I thought it had completely died and it shot straight back out within a matter of weeks. Beautiful flower and they seem to like this a lot as well and again, particularly the bumbles (I think someone locally must be managing a hive because I've had a lot of honeybees this year but they tend to focus on the Salvia almost exclusively)
Various shrubs - Cornus Alba Sibirica, Vibernum Tinus Spirit, Vibernum Davidii, Box Holly, Pittosporium: all these either produced flowers in the spring or they will produce berries apparently. I always under-valued shrubs but they definitely feed on them and they are mass flower producers too so aspiring bee guardians definitely shouldn't overlook them.
Cosmos - I absolutely love this. I know they're going to die back this year but they are so, so, so easy. Just got them from the garden centre, popped them in the ground, and off they go. Another massive bee favourite. Next year I'm going to try and grow some blue ones from seed so I can make my garden all blue (it's not really important the colour but just to try anyway). Highly recommended for them because, again, they love it.
Weeds generally - I have a whole lot of campanula (blue little star like flowers) all over the back of the garden over a sort of patio area but I'm not cutting it back until its finished flowering because again, they're on it all the time. Amazingly, a wild foxglove that I definitely didn't plant has turned up this year on this paving work too so bonus. I'm going to also chuck about a load of wild flower seeds recommended by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and see what happens. Worst is that I cut back anything that's crazy but if they're feeding, I don't care anyway.
Ivy - had nesting robins last year and this year my neighbour's had another family. A very big winter feeder apparently and I've got it running all across one wall. Just trimming to keep in check but not by much.
Errr... I can't think of any more. But yes, those are all my big bee plants! I've also set aside a whole areas at the back that I'm going to set pots into this year to encourage queens. Slim chance, I know, but I'm going to try anyway.
Thanks for the opportunity to post in your thread. I love bees. I will definitely check out your blog, too.
I saw a plant labelled chamaecytisus hirsutus (aka cytisus hirsutus or hairy broom) at a garden centre over the weekend. There were bees swarming all over its yellow flowers. It was a large (5ft or so diameter) sprawling plant in a gravel bed which the staff said had grown from one plant in the past 4 years. Sadly they had none for sale and I can't find anywhere on the internet that has it either, possibly because it's fast-growing and potentially invasive, or maybe because it has no value as a showy sort of garden plant. The garden centre staff did say that if I came back later in the year when the pods were mature they would let me have some. I'm sure I could find a corner or 2 to put some.
A closed mouth gathers no foot.
Beenaut - that is an amazing list! Thanks for sharing. I'm really interested to hear of your success with Weigela - I've yet to see one that is really successful. And I was hoping someone had tried Illumination Pinks to find if the hybridisation they've done to create this perennial foxglove had knocked out all its wikldlife value. Brilliant stuff!