Gardening for Bees

Honey bee and Phacelia flower
Honey bee and Phacelia flower

Garden location

Plant your bee garden in an area where there is adequate sunshine. The plants and the bees will benefit from the sunny location.

A bee garden doesn’t have to take up a lot of space; it can be planted in containers on a sunny patio.

Planting for bees

Bees prefer to work large patches of the same type of flower. When an individual plant is producing nectar, a foraging bee will return to the colony informing other bees of the plants location. Having large individual areas, or drifts, of one plant will ensure the bees will get the most benefit.

It is best to leave flowers on the plant until the blooms are spent. This allows the bees to make the most of each flower.

The plants in your bee garden should have varied bloom times to provide an extended period of forage for the bees. You can also stagger the planting time to provide a longer nectar source.

Bees need water

Be sure to provide a reliable water source for your bees. One option is to add a shallow, decorative fountain to your garden. Make sure the fountain includes plenty of rocks for the bees to stand on. If the water source is too deep, the bees will drown.

Leave some natural areas in your yard

Rather than landscaping every part of your yard, you can help the bees by leaving a bit of wild space. Bumble bees live in forest duff; mason bees need mud for their nest; other ground dwelling bees make their nests in loose soil.

More information about bee gardens

The Melissa Garden – a honeybee sanctuary

The Xerces Society for invertebrate conversation

Haagen-Dazs – Honey Bee Haven