Q&As/Garden Insects/Encouraging Bees

Question

What can I plant to encourage more bees to my garden to pollinate my plants and trees in a fairly hot sometimes dry region? For winter and summer. 

Answer

Bee season is early spring to late autumn and they are attracted to a plants flower colour and scent. Favourite flower colours in their visual spectrum are blue, purple, violet, white, yellow and green (bees also ‘see’ ultraviolet which humans can’t). There are some guidelines for choosing bee attractive plants for your garden along with some varieties to try.

 

  1. Choose flowers with high pollen and nectar content and colours within the bee’s visual spectrum.
  2. Grow a diverse range of plants with flowers of different shapes and sizes so there will be flowers throughout the bee season
  3. When planting, place plants in a nice open situation so bees can see them. When bees are attracted to a particular species it a good idea to plant them in large groups together.
  4. Bees are very attracted to native varieties, so try and choose plants close to the native species as possible.

If you are in a hurry to grow something quickly, then Upright Rosemary or Lavender Dentata would suit. These shrubs will be the fastest to flower after planting; you should start seeing flowers within 2 months.

For a longer-term approach, you can try the lovely range of NZ natives Ornamental Manuka’s - these are an absolute favourite of bees! Another hardy shrub to try is Echium Fastuosum or Pride of Madeira which grows happily where soils are drier or poor quality. Its masses of cylindrical purple flowers are a magnet for bees and can be found literally covered in them. Hebes are also another bee favourite.

While waiting for the shrubs to grow, you could plant some summer annuals such as Calendua’s to attract bees in the meantime. Our How to Attract Bees guide has a list of other varieties you can grow.

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