Honey bees wandering over flowers is a common sight in gardens. Worker bees spend every moment of daylight flying from flowering plant to flowering plant, collecting pollen and nectar for the hive. Bees suck up nectar with their tongues and store collected pollen in structures on their rear legs called pollen baskets. Worker honey bees are opportunistic, and their preferences vary with the availability of nectar and pollen. Bees do not feed on just any flower, but they have preferences and a few plant species stand out for their ability to attract honey bees.
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There are numerous annual plants that honey bees find attractive at some point in the growing season. Many annuals will establish themselves naturally, such as clover, and are a stable for honey bees in many parts of their range. Other annuals, such as borage, dogbane, goldenrod, heath and zinnias will provide plenty of food for bees and can be selected to fit your taste.
Perennial flowers are some of the best-known plants that attract bees. The yearly blooming of a well-planted flower garden provides plenty of options for foraging honey bees. Gardens planted with echinacea (coneflower), buttercups, crocuses, geraniums, hollyhocks, hyacinths, foxglove and roses provide plenty of resources to keep bees coming back to your garden all season long, year after year.
Many herbs are easy to keep and loved by honey bees. Herbs not only attract bees to your garden, but they also provide a fragrant addition to your outdoor living space and can add a touch of home grown flavour to dinner when harvested. Easy to grow herbs for bees include lavender, bee balm, dill, rosemary, mint, thyme and sage.
Several species of shrubs attract bees to your property as well as serve the purpose of a decorative or barrier plant. One of the best shrubs is the butterfly bush, a tall, hardy shrub that blooms in midsummer and lasts through fall. Other attractive shrubs preferred by bees are lilac, honeysuckles, indigo and blueberry bushes.
Many species of trees rely solely on bees to pollinate and reproduce and have developed flowers that are highly attractive to honey bees. Apple and cherry trees are two of the most famous trees that rely heavily on bees for pollination, but bees feed on other species that produce abundant numbers of large flowers such as magnolia, tulip, golden rain trees, locust, poplar and willow trees.
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