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What Attracts Bees the Most?

Bees are attracted to certain colors, smells, and shapes. They’re also attracted to contrasting colors, and flowers that produce a lot of nectar. They’re most attracted to blue or violet, nectar-rich flowers.

The answer to the question “what attracts bees the most” is not that simple. It varies depending on the bees, the climate, and the local habitat.

However, there are certain traits that always attract bees, such as certain colors or flowers.

In this article, we’ll talk more about how to attract bees, why they’re attracted to certain things, and why it’s important.

What Are Bees Attracted To?

Bees are attracted to flowers, especially the ones that provide lots of nectar and pollen. Bees use these components for nutrients and are essential for their survival.

Certain flowers are better at attracting bees. Many of these share the same characteristics.

Colors

Colors are an important aspect of bee attraction. Different colors are better at attracting bees than others. The contrast of colors is also important.

Specific colors that are generally better at attracting bees are blue and violet, while some bees prefer green. [1]

This comes down to how bees see color. Humans make up color combinations based on red, green, and blue, as these are the colors our photoreceptors can process. Bees, on the other hand, base their colors on green, blue, and ultraviolet.

Hence, these are the colors that stand out the most to them.

Bees can’t see red. They can see red-ish colors, such as orange, but red appears black to them.

Contrasting colors also make flowers stand out to bees, such as violet flowers in a field of green grass. This is also why flowers often have dark centers. They create a contrast between the petals and the center, guiding bees towards the nectar.

Related: Which colors are bees attracted to the most?

bumblee bees on a flower

Sugars

Sugar is one of the main attractions for bees. They get sugars from nectar, which they then use to produce honey. The more nectar a flower can provide, the more likely bees are to return to said flower. [2]

The nectar from flowers contains a high concentration of sugar, which is why bees are drawn to them.

There are a number of different types of sugars that bees are attracted to. The most common type is sucrose, which is found in many fruits and vegetables.

Blue and violet flowers typically produce more nectar, as they’ve evolved with the specific purpose of attracting pollinators. Pollinators help flowers survive and reproduce.

Bee on a sunflower

Certain Shapes

The shape of a flower also impacts its ability to attract bees. However, this depends on the type of bee.

Bees with long tongues are attracted to tubular-shaped flowers (such as lavender) and objects, as they have an easier time extracting nectar from these. 

Bees with shorter tounges tend to be attracted to flowers with a shallow center (such as tomatoes). [3]

bumblebee flying

Moisture/Water

Bees are attracted to moisture because they need water to survive. They also use water to cool down each other, and their hive, when temperatures get too high.

When the hive gets too hot, the bees will fan their wings inside the hive to create a breeze. They also spew water onto the hive itself.

bee on water

Light

Like most other insects, bees are attracted to like. This is due to a phototaxis.

Phototaxis is the ability of organisms to move according to light. This is also seen in flowers, such as sunflowers, where they move their head according to the position of the sun.

Bees have a positive phototactic response, meaning they generally move towards the light.

Bees are especially drawn to ultraviolet light. Plants use this to guide bees to the nectar, by displaying UV-light patterns on their petals.

Related: Are bees attracted to light?

bee flying alone at night in a flower

Sweat (Sweat Bees)

Sweat bees are attracted to the salt on your skin. Their primary source of food is nectar, but they supplement their diet with salt and moisture, hence they’re drawn to humans’ sweat.

This is seen in sweat bees, and not regular honeybees.

What Smells Are Bees Attracted to the Most?

Many different smells attract bees, but there are a few that seem to be more attractive than others.

  • Lavender: This sweet-smelling flower is often used in aromatherapy. They secrete certain essential oils and produce flavonoids, that attract bees.
  • Citrus: Bees are attracted to citrus-fruit trees, including orange, lemon, and grapefruit. These fruits give off a sweet and tangy aroma that bees can’t resist.
  • Clover: This type of grass has a subtle but distinctive smell that bees find irresistible. [4]

But why are bees attracted to these scents?

They are all sweet and floral scents. Bees are naturally drawn to these smells because they relate them to nectar.

Bee pollinates the lavender flowers. Plant decay with insects

Why Do Plants Attract Bees?

Plants mainly attract bees because of nectar or pollen, but color and shape are also important factors.

Color is one of the first things that grab the attention of a bee. 

Bees are drawn to brightly colored flowers because they know these flowers generally contain more nectar and pollen. Flowers with higher nectar contents also display UV-light patterns on their petals to attract bees.

The shape is another factor that attracts bees to plants. 

Some flowers are more tubular in shape, while others are more round. Bees prefer flowers that are easy to access, so they can gather the nectar and pollen quickly.

rose pollen with bee

Bees are also drawn to plants that produce a lot of nectar and pollen. 

Bees use nectar to make honey, and pollen to make bee bread. Honey is used as food for worker bees, the queen, as well as drones. Bee bread is used to feed the brood.

Both pollen and nectar are crucial for bees to survive.

How to Attract Bees to Your Garden

There are a few things you can do to attract bees to your garden. One is to plant a variety of flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year. 

This will give the bees a food source all season, effectively extending the foraging season. 

You can also provide them with a water source by installing a bee bath or simply placing a bowl of water in your garden.

It’s also important to minimize the use of pesticides in your garden as these chemicals can harm bees. You should be aware that plants bought from a nursery or hardware store may have been treated with pesticides, so it’s best to buy organic plants for your garden.

Bee and lavender flower.

Plant the Right Flowers

When it comes to attracting bees to your garden, you need to plant the right flowers. Bees are attracted to a variety of different flowers, so you should have no trouble finding plants that will draw them in.

The best plants are the ones that are native to the bees. They know these flowers, which cause them to naturally be attracted to them.

In order for a flower to be attractive to bees, it must offer certain key features. 

  1. First of all, the color needs to be right. In order for flowers to attract bees, they need bright colors such as violet, blue, green, or yellow.
  2. The shape of the flower is also important. Long, tubular flowers are the perfect shape for bumblebees to gather nectar from, while shallow flowers are better for smaller honeybees. 
  3. Finally, flowers that have a high content of sugars will attract more bees than flowers with less sugar content.
bee on a sunflower

Provide a Place to Live

To attract more bees into your garden, you can provide them with a place to live. You can do so by creating a beehive or bee box.

It can be as simple as drilling a few holes into a block of wood and hanging it in your garden. You can also purchase an already-made bee box. 

Add Water

If you want to attract bees to your garden, adding water is a great way to do it. Bees need water to drink, and they also use it to cool down their hives. [5]

You can provide a bee with water by setting up a birdbath or container of water in your garden. Make sure the water is shallow so that the bees can easily drink from it. 

close-up-view-of-honey-bees-drinking-water

Best Plants to Attract Bees

The best way to attract more bees is by planting flowers. Doing so in a strategic way will increase the number of bees. 

Here are ten plants that are recommended for attracting bees:

  1. Sunflowers
  2. Lavender
  3. Zinnias
  4. Blue Globe Allium
  5. Black-eyed Susans
  6. Sedum
  7. Bee Balm
  8. Mint
  9. Wisteria
  10. Borage

Related: Best flowers for bees

Conclusion

Bees are attracted to many things, such as specific colors, sugars, shapes, moisture, and light. Bees are most attracted to sugars, as sugar is a key element in their survival.

If you want to attract bees, plant a variety of plants that show these characteristics, and you’ll be sure to have a garden swarming with bees.

FAQs

What Are Bees Most Attracted To?

Bees are most attracted to nectar-rich or pollen-rich flowers, that are either blue or violet in color. Depending on the bees, they’ll be drawn to different shapes as well (the bumblebee is attracted to long, tubular shapes, while small honeybees are attracted to smaller and shallower shapes).

How Do You Attract Bees Quickly?

The best way to attract bees is to plant a variety of flowers that provide nutrients to bees. These will typically include blue and violet flowers, such as lavender. By providing bees with nutrients, they’ll come foraging in your garden. Providing water is also a good idea.

What Food Are Bees Most Attracted To?

Bees are attracted to sweet foods. The reason for this is that sugary foods like fruit provide bees with energy. Bees usually feed on honey, which is also very rich in sugars. Bees use a lot of energy when flying about. The fastest way to get energy is through sugar.

What Attracts Bees to My House?

The most common reason why bees are attracted to your house is food. Bees are always looking for food, as they need a lot of it to keep the colony going. If you’re dealing with bee problems, start by removing any sweet food lying around.

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.