Attracting Bees to the Garden
Bees play an essential role as pollinators in the garden. Without bees many of our vegetables and fruit would never get to harvest stage. The members of the pumpkin family provide classic examples. These all have separate male and female flowers and, unless the pollen gets carried from the male to the female, there’s no way the cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin etc. will develop.
The solution is to plant lots of flowers in the garden to attract pollinators. Mixing flowers among the vegies not only adds colour, it helps to ensure that there are enough bees around to do the job. Of course the bees aren’t interested in helping the flowers; they’re simply chasing the nectar that the flowers produce. Pollination is incidental.
Here are some easy-to-grow, bee-attracting flowers that can be started from Yates seeds. Favourite, bee-friendly colours seem to be yellow, purple or blue.
- Forget me nots are spring annuals that produce copious quantities of seed, ensuring that the plants re-appear year after year.
- Lavender in all its forms is a wonderful bee attractant and, because of its long flowering period and its range of varieties, it’s possible to have lavender in flower for most of the year. Dwarf Lavender Munstead can be grown from seed.
- Nasturtiums, too, grow readily from seed. Both the bee-attracting flowers and the leaves are edible.
- Catmint, with its grey foliage and soft mauve blooms, makes a delightful edging for vegie beds.
- Yates Phacelia (pictured) is renowned for its appeal to ‘good’ garden insects, including hoverflies and honeybees.
- Salvia, especially the blue flowering variety, attracts bees.
Some of the herbs are also very bee-friendly. They have a natural affinity with vegetables and many are said to deter insect pests in the garden.
Try these herbs:
- Basil is an annual that grows right through the warmer weather, producing sprays of white, pink or mauve flowers in late summer and autumn. Allowing a few flowers to develop will attract bees.
- Thyme is a perennial mini shrub that, like basil, flowers in late summer.
- Sage, the culinary form of the ornamental salvias, does a good job as a bee attractant.
- Rocket can be classed either as a herb or a salad vegetable. Allowing some rocket to flower and go to seed will encourage friendly insects to visit the garden.
- Also try borage, chives, garlic chives and coriander.
Don’t forget, though, that some people have a life-threatening allergic reaction to bees and bee-stings. Perhaps a cute sign about yours being a ‘bee-friendly garden’ will provide visitors with an appropriate warning.
This area is for general comments from members of the public. Some questions or comments may not receive a reply from Yates. For specific gardening advice visit Ask an expert Alternatively you may wish to contact us.