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Best Flowers & Plants for Bees: 17 Flowers That Attract Bees

Just like any other living thing, bees need a balanced diet, and they need certain nutrients to stay healthy.

If you’re looking to attract bees to your garden, there are certain types of plants and flowers that’ll do the trick.

Do you know the best flowers and plants to plant for bees?

Check out this blog post for 17 plants and flowers that attract bees! 

17 Best Flowers for Bees

Bee Balm

Bee balm is also known by its botanical name of Monarda. Bee balm is an attractive perennial plant that blooms throughout the summer months.

Bee Balm is a member of the mint family that thrives in North America, primarily in the woodland areas, and is best known for the numerous cultivars available. 

This plant makes an excellent addition to any garden, no matter where you live. When you have a couple of these plants near your home or office, you’ll get lots of visitors bringing their pollinating skills to your garden.

Bee Balm

Lilacs

Lilacs are a great flower to plant to attract pollinating bees. Different bees feel drawn to varying lilac colors, but all varieties will help bring in bees. 

There are some conflicting stories on the history of lilacs, but many sources say they originated in Iran. From there, they spread to Europe and then North America. [1]

They can grow from shrubs into full trees, depending on where you live. 

Not only do the flowers smell great, but they also stay around longer than other spring blooms, which is beneficial if you have a garden with multiple types of flowers.

The most apparent use for lilacs is as a decoration for your home or garden.

A Bumblebee Pollinating a Chive Flower (Allium schoenoprasum)

Lavender

Lavender has been used for hundreds of years as a medicinal plant because it can help against stress and is often used for relaxation purposes. [2]

Some claim lavender can cure various physical ailments such as migraines, anxiety, insomnia, etc. There is no significant evidence that lavender has any effect on these conditions.

You can trace the origin of lavender to ancient Greece, where women would weave wreaths out of lavender flowers to help with their headaches. In ancient Rome, they believed that the scent could ward off evil spirits, leading to modern-day uses as an air freshener or home fragrance.

In addition to their medicinal uses, lavenders have many practical applications. They are a beautiful addition to flower beds which you can use in the making of potpourri. 

The plants also attract bees and butterflies that pollinate the plants.

Related: Does lavender attract bees?

bee in lavender

Mint

Mint is native to Africa and Asia, but its history as a medicinal herb dates back to Ancient Egypt. 

Egyptians used mint in their embalming process because of its cleansing properties. Mint was also famous during the time of Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, who prescribed mint tea for his patients.

Mint is so popular today that most people use it in everything from candy to toothpaste to medicine. It’s a common ingredient in gum and candy because its refreshing taste can help freshen one’s breath. 

bee on mint

Sunflowers

Do you ever notice those giant, beautiful flowers that you see in a garden or a field? [3] They’re best known for their height and the large yellow heads they produce. 

What many people don’t realize is that almost all sunflower plants are native to North America.

People have widely cultivated these plants because of their ability to attract pollinators with their bright yellow flowers and ample nectar stores. 

In addition, sunflowers are used as sustenance due to their high protein seeds, which can be eaten raw or ground into an oil.

Bee on a sunflower

Poppies

Poppies are best known for their striking, often red or orange colors, and in making opium. However, they have a lesser-known benefit: they’re one of the best flowers for attracting bees to any garden.

Poppies vary in colors and sizes. While most pollinators prefer the orange ones, there’s no better way to attract pollinators than by growing a variety of poppies and allowing bees to feed on them freely. 

The plant’s flowers close at night but open before dawn, which makes for an amazing view during sunrise.

bee-and-poppy-flower

Coneflower

It’s a perennial flowering plant native to North America ranging from Canada to Mexico. Coneflower is best known for its large, showy flower heads that attract pollinators. 

Its best quality is it produces an uncanny amount of nectar which has been a massive help to the honey industry. 

Beekeepers will place Coneflowers near their hives as a form of best practice or crop rotation.

Coneflowers are great for attracting bees because they provide valuable pollen and nectar during the early blooming season when other plants have not yet started producing these much-needed resources. 

coneflower and bee

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is a common name used to describe many different species of climbing vines in the honeysuckle family (Caprifoliaceae). [4] 

Their main trait is the tubular corolla shaped like a trumpet or bell, containing five to 100+ nectar-producing glands per flower. 

Honeysuckles are also known for having large numbers of tiny flowers that can be very fragrant at night.

Most pollinators scour the fields for this plant because of its nectar and pollen. A lot of insect enthusiasts consider the honeysuckle the best flower for bees because of how efficient it is at providing nectar to pollinators.

bee and Honeysuckle

Lantana

Lantana is best known for its beautiful, brightly colored flowers. The plant hails from the American tropics and has since been thriving throughout the world. 

This plant exhibits red, orange, pinks, yellows, purples whites in a single cluster – attracting many pollinating insects such as honeybees, butterflies, aphids, beetles, and moths.

Lantana produces more of these typically bee-visited flowers than most native plants and has a flower structure that seems more appealing – larger tubes with wider openings. 

A study also found that the Lantana camera was visited by butterflies an average of 71 times per day while bluebonnets were only visited 32 times per day.

Lantana

Snapdragons

Many gardeners love to grow snapdragons, or “dragon flowers,” in their backyards because of how easy they grow. 

Another reason why snapdragons are so popular is their vibrant colors and versatility in color combinations. Gardeners can choose from pink, yellow, peach, purple, and much more when creating the best flower bed for themselves.

If you want to grow snapdragons in your backyard, your garden must meet a few requirements. First off, snapdragons need space.

Make sure that nothing is surrounding the plant except dirt and good soil

Snapdragons

Sedums

The most popular flowers to bees are the ones that produce a lot of nectar and pollen. 

Fortunately, sedum flowers have all the pollen supply that bees need to thrive. The flower’s structure can vary from plant variety to plant variety too. 

Because sedums have evolved colorful parts to attract pollinators, these plants are great at attracting honeybees and bumblebees alike.

Sedums

Pale Purple Coneflower

The pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida) is best known for its gorgeous flowers. This plant comes in pink, purple, lavender, and white shades, making it very attractive to bees. 

Pale purple coneflowers are drought-tolerant, which means they don’t need a lot of water to grow.

They originate from Mexico, hence one of their nicknames: “Mexican hat”. 

Pale purple coneflowers are best planted around rock gardens or in the sun, especially during early spring through mid-summer.

These coneflower plants can grow up to six feet tall with a three-foot spread of petals reaching outwards. The plant’s flowers start as pale yellow-green buds, which open into sizable vibrant lavender blooms during late spring through midsummer.

Coneflower

Wisteria

Wisteria is a hardy, deciduous woody vine with clusters of flowers that can grow very long. 

Wisteria can transform a garden in just a few years, with its incredible ability to grow very fast. 

Like many woody climbers, wisterias need to be pruned each year. This should be done about 2 months after blooming (in July or August). You might have to prune several times during the summer. When the plant is dormant in January and February, it’s recommended to prune again. [5]

Wisterias are great for bees because bees love the beautiful purple color.

Wisteria

Blue Globe Allium

Another great flower for bees is the Blue Globe Allium (Allium caeruleum).

This plant produces clusters of bright blue flowerheads that can grow up to 1 inch wide. The Latin name Allium caeruleum means “blue,” referring to the pale blue-violet flowers.

The blue globe allium is best for flower gardens or containers on patios. You can also use it to adorn indoor and outdoor spaces too. 

Ornamental blue allium flowers in backlight

Black-Eyed Susan

Black-eyed Susans are best known for their vibrant orange, yellow and gold petals. However, the true gem of this flower is its dark center. 

The black eye in the middle attracts insects to this beautiful flower. Insects visit these flowers to drink up nectar and collect pollen.

The yellow-orange color surrounding the brown center creates a beautiful contrast that makes this flower stand out.

Black-Eyed Susan

Zinnia

Another type of flower suited for bees is the zinnia. Gardeners love to plant these bright, colorful flowers because they require very little attention. 

Zinnia is a genus of 20-30 species of flowering plants in the daisy family Asteraceae.

They can grow in many climates, including arid zones, and are native to dry grasslands and scrub of Mexico, Central America, South America, and the southwest United States.

Best of all, bees can’t get enough of their bright blooms and deep nectar pockets. 

Zinnia

Borage

Borago officinalis- is a plant originally from the Mediterranean region but is also thriving in America and Australia. The plant can reach about 1 meter in height.

The borage flower has five petals with a blue coloration. This color might seem familiar as it looks similar to many other flowers from the same family, such as violets, pansies, and more.

While these plants may look alike, they are all native plants to different regions around the world.

Each borage petal has leaves shooting to all sides which causes them to resemble stars or comets. The leaves of this particular plant have rough hairs that look like bristles. 

These features give borage the nickname “the hairy star thistle.” 

Borage flowers, starflower,

What Makes a Flower Attractive to Bees?

It Provides Nutrients

Bees tend to feel drawn towards flowers that offer nutrients. The more nectar the bee gets, the more it will return for another visit. 

The right color

Bees’ favorite colors are blue and purple. This is because of how bees’ eyes are built. While bees can see most colors, they can see colors on the blue and purple spectrum the best.

That’s why flowers with these colors will naturally attract bees the best. These are, interestingly, also the flowers that produce the most nectar.

Many flowers will also have ultraviolet “nectar guides”. While we can’t see them, bees can spot these guides very quickly.

Related: What colors attract bees?

blue flowers

The contrast between light and dark

Different types of bees have varying eyesight capabilities. 

While humans tend to focus on the colors of flowers, bees are mainly attracted by contrasts of dark and light areas – the dark being the center, and the light being the surrounding flowers.

The right shape

Flowers attract bees with their shapes. The best shape depends on the length of the bee’s tongue. Hence, different shapes attract different bees.

Bees with long tongues will prefer deep, tubular flowers, while bees with shorter tongues prefer shallow flowers.

The right size

Size is important, depending on what type of bee you want to attract. Bigger bees like bigger flowers, as they can’t land on the small ones. Smaller bees, like honeybees, like smaller flowers.

Honey Bee on a Flower

Plant single flowers

Plants that have single flowers are more accessible for bees than plants with showy double flowers. This is why bees are more attracted to single flower plants.

Chemical-free flowers

Because bees are insects, they do not have the necessary enzymes to break down plant chemicals. 

If you want to attract ants, avoid using pesticides that are toxic to bees. Instead, use an eco-friendly treatment.

How to Design Your Garden to Attract Bees

If you want to attract bees to your garden, here are some steps you should follow. Fulfilling certain criteria almost guarantees that bees will be attracted to your garden.

Related: What attracts bees?

Provide a Home for the Bees

While bee-attracting flowers is a good place to start, if you want to fill your garden with bees, you should provide them with a home as well, if you want them to stick around.

Bumblebees’ nests are typically in the ground, so make sure there’s plenty of free soil for them to dig through.

Flowers in garden

Give Them Access to Water

Give your bees access to water near where they live. Doing so will benefit them in more ways than one.

If you want an easy solution that doesn’t require building anything yourself, you can buy a birdbath.

If you’re a building enthusiast and want a new project, then a concrete birdbath is easy to make with basic masonry skills. 

Just remember that bees may prefer natural or organic material rather than something artificial, so it might be worth buying the pre-made one instead of spending hours slaving away on your creation.

Place this structure in the garden, near your flowers. 

Grow Some Herbs

If you’re a beekeeper, or if you simply want to attract some bees to your garden, consider growing some herbs. 

Not only do these herbs smell great and attract pollinators nearby, but they can also reduce the chances of disease and infection among the bees.

herb garden

Two great examples of easy-to-grow herbs that any beehive would be lucky to have nearby include rosemary and thyme. 

These two go hand in hand with each other; 

  • Rosemary is known for its cleansing abilities. Rosemary is especially useful (and tasty) because it gets rid of many bacteria, including E. coli, salmonella, and staph, while thyme is great for reducing infections like this.
  • Thyme reduces illness and prevents infections from happening on top of that.

Another herb that most gardeners recommend is lavender, which smells fantastic and keeps bees from getting agitated. 

Having a few lavenders in your bee sanctuary means that they’re less likely to fly off in search of a new hive if they’re feeling calm and content.

And, lavender can also attract bees, so it’s a win-win.

Include the Right Flowers

Lastly, if you’re trying to attract bees to your new garden, you need to include the right flowers. We covered a lot of these earlier in the article, but here are some suggestions:

  • Sunflowers
  • Coneflowers
  • Honeysucke
  • Zinnia
  • Poppies

The good thing about flowers that attract bees is, that they’re usually always extremely nice and pretty. 

You can include both native and non-native plants in your garden setup to achieve the best possible attraction factor.

If you’re looking to attract specific species of bees, you’ll have to look a bit more into what flowers or plants are best.

Related: Do roses attract bees?

Frequently Asked Questions

What Color Flowers Attract Bees? ​   

Some colors may be more attractive than others. Research has shown that bees are most attracted to blue, purple, and violet-colored flowers. That’s because these are the flowers that typically produce the most nectar.

What Plants Are Toxic to Bees?

Many plants that bees visit may be toxic to the bees. Bees that visit such plants have paralysis or even death after collecting nectar and pollen from such plants. Poisonous plants include Japanese Yew, Azalea, and Buttercup.

About Teodoro Pittman

Teodoro is a nature and animal lover. He specifically focuses on insects, such as ants, bees, and the like. In his free time, he takes care of his own ant farm, where he analyzes their behavior. Teodoro has spent the last 7 years studying the intricate behavior of these small creatures.