Bees are an essential part of our ecosystems as they help to pollinate not only flowers but, more importantly, the vegetable, fruit and nut crops on which people depend for food. Without bees, the world as we know it would not exist. Many different shrubs attract bees to visit the garden, and most of them add a bit of flowery ornament to the garden as well.
Lavender is a favourite with bees. They use its abundant nectar to make monofloral honey--honey that is made from only one type of flower. The lavender shrub has many uses besides attracting bees, from simply being aesthetically pleasing, to providing aromatherapy treatments for sleep disorders, to flavouring cakes, chocolates and sugar. The lavender plant comes in countless varieties due to its easy cross-pollination. It is a hardy shrub that does best in full to partial sun with well-drained soil.
Rosemary, a native of the Mediterranean region, is a woody shrub with many medicinal and culinary uses. Bees are attracted to its strong aroma and tiny flowers. Rosemary is a hardy shrub that grows best in full sun and well-drained soil.
There are two varieties of Skimmia shrubs: Skimmia japonica, or Kew White, and Skimmia confusa, or Kew Green. Both are easily maintained shrubs that also do well in pots and window boxes. Skimmia are evergreens that flower in autumn. Their white flowers attract bees with a sweet scent and rich nectar.
Mint is an aromatic flowering herb shrub that bees love. The strong smell of the plant attracts the bees, which sup on the small white flowers. In addition to attracting bees to the garden, mint can be used for numerous purposes in the kitchen, including adding flavour to lemonade and iced tea or making mint jelly. Mint does well in cool areas with partial shade. It is a hardy plant and can tolerate diverse growing conditions.
Bees love Agastache plants, with their long, tubelike purple flower stalks. These flowers provide an abundance of nectar for bees and other pollinators. Bees prefer Agastache with blue and purple flowers while hummingbirds prefer the shrubs with pink and magenta flowers. This is because bees and hummingbirds see different parts of the colour spectrum.