Bees are essential for the pollination of all plant life. The decline in bee population prompts ongoing studies which suggest the use of pesticides as one possible culprit in the continuing absence of bees in many areas, according to USDA News Release No. 0333.10. Adding plants to your garden that attract bees is a good way to attract, support and improve the bee population.
Flowers are ultimate attractants for bees and can be selected from numerous varieties of annuals and perennials. Annuals are planted in the spring or summer and live for one growing season. Some of the most popular flowering annuals include asters, marigolds, poppies, sunflowers and zinnias. Perennials are excellent choices that provide a habitat for bees because they typically increase in growth and produce more blooms after the first year. Perennials are available as ground cover, climbers and tall varieties. Traditional favorites include buttercups, clematis, cosmos, dahlias, foxglove, geraniums, hollyhocks, hyacinth, roses and yellow hyssop.
All vegetables and berries are good attractants for bees due to their abundance of blooms. Cantaloupe, cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins, squash and watermelon produce large showy blooms that bees tend to target.
Most herbs have an abundance of small flowers. Although many people choose to grow herbs indoors, growing them in an outdoor garden can create stronger, hardier plants, as well as being beneficial for bees. A few of the bee-loving herbs include catnip, coriander, cilantro, fennel, lavender, peppermint, spearmint, rosemary, sage and thyme. Plants in the mint family can be bossy and prolific. Consider planting mint in an area where these plants will have freedom to spread.