Bring on the Bees! More and more people are realizing the advantage of attracting bees and other beneficial insects to their garden or landscape. They pollinate important food plants, including fruit trees, and contribute to a thriving ecosystem. There are a few easy ways to attract bees. The best way is to plant things that they enjoy. We have compiled a list of some bee-friendly favorites that are blooming right now.
Hellebores (all varieties)
Hellebores are one of the first plants to bloom in the New Year. They are perennial herbaceous plants that are largely evergreen. The bowl-shaped flowers bloom in mid-winter in shades of maroon, dusty pinks, peaches and deep blues. They are an early treat for any pollinator who braves the winter. We grow many different varieties to suit a variety of color schemes.
Rosemary (All varieties)
A wonderful fragrant plant, this evergreen shrub is both decorative and useful. Rosemary plants generally grow to 5-6 feet tall and just about as wide, depending on the variety (some are more like groundcovers). They often bloom with dusty blue and purple flowers that attract bees. Their fragrant, needle-like foliage can be applied to many recipes in the home. These plants are excellent for hedges and in edible landscaping.
Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima)
Armeria maritima Â â€˜Dusseldorf Prideâ€™ (Photo thanks to Northscaping.com)
Sea Thrifts (also called Sea Pink) are compact, low-growing plants that grow in a dense mounded form. The tufts of dark-green grassy leaves serve as a backdrop for the taller stalks of tiny pink and white flowers that bloom in mid-spring. Bees love the rounded flower clusters that form 6-10 inches above the dense foliage mounds. We grow several different types of this lovely little plant.
Ajuga (All varieties)
Ajuga reptans (photo thanks to Northscaping.com)
Carpetweed and Bugleweed are just two of the names for these versatile groundcovers. They grow in mats of glossy green leaves that grow to about 6 inches tall, on average. Many varieties have leaves with shades of purple, pink, silver or cream. Flower spikes bloom all spring and into summer, ranging in color from deep blue to shades of lavender, pink and white. We grow many different varieties of this classic groundcover.
Red Flowering Currant (Ribes sanguineum)
This native shrub is a pollinatorâ€™s delight. It blooms each spring with large, dangling clusters of deep pink flowers. Hummingbirds, bees and butterflies will flock to this beautiful plant. It also produces edible currants in the summertime and soft, fuzzy palmate leaves. Plant this shrub in full sun and enjoy the display!
Viburnum (All varieties)
We grow a wide variety of these diverse shrubs. They grow in many different shapes and sizes with a diverse assortment of colorful foliage. Most have significant, fragrant blooms in ball or umbrella clusters that attract bees and other pollinators. These become clusters of attractive fruit that are perfect for overwintering birds. Most grow exceedingly well in our climate and make excellent spring attractions.
Â Crabapple (Malus varieties)
Malus ‘Royal Raindrops’ (photo thanks to Northscaping.com)
Crabapples are a mason beeâ€™s delight! They are gorgeous ornamental (and sometimes edible) trees that bloom with large, fragrant flowers each spring. Blossoms range from red to pink to creamy-white, depending on the variety, but they always attract pollinators. We grow several varieties including the â€˜Tschonoskiiâ€™, which grows with a columnar habit and excellent fall color, and â€˜Royal Raindropsâ€™, which has deeply lobed red leaves and showy flowers and pomes.
Cherry (Prunus varieties)
Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’ (photo thanks to Northscaping.com)
Flowering cherry trees are heralds of spring and present an open invitation to newly-hatched mason bees as well as other returning pollinators. They become covered in creamy-pink clusters of fragrant flowers each spring. They make excellent focal points, street trees and shade trees. We grow many varieties including â€˜Kwanzanâ€™, with showy double pink flowers, and â€˜Yoshinoâ€™, with creamy white blooms tinted with blushing pink.
Mason Bees are wonderful creatures for the landscape and especially the orchard. They are solitary bees that rarely sting but work diligently to pollinate all early spring flowers. It is fairly easy to attract mason bees by building them a house. You can use a variety of different wood materials to create holes for them to lay larvae in (that overwinter and hatch in spring). We recommend drilling holes varying in width from Â¼â€ to 3/8â€ with 5/16â€ being the ideal size. The holes need to be a minimum of 3â€ long but the longer the better.Â You can use just about any untreated wood, including an old 4X4. The holes must be smooth and not go all the way through the wood.Â By attaching a mason bee house to your home or shed, you can attract mason bees to pollinate your flowers!