How to Plant Food Plots for Honey Bees

Overview

The consequence of an unhealthy bee population is a decrease in food crop and flower production. To help the wild bee population, you can plant a food plot for honey bees in your garden that attracts bees because bees eat and collect pollen from flowers to bring it to their hives. It is during the pollen gathering process that pollen is transferred from one flower to the other. Because flowers have male and female parts, the transferred pollen fertilizes the flower, allowing plants to produce fruits and vegetables, which in turn produces fertilized seed.

Step 1

Prepare the area for your honey bee food plot in the same way you would prepare any garden for planting by clearing weeds and grasses and adding organic matter to the soil. Locating the honeybee food plot in full sun is best because a larger number of flowering plants that attract honey bees thrive in full sun than in shade.

Step 2

Plant the flowering plants that grow the tallest in the back of the bee garden using a shovel or other gardening tool. Plant the same kind of flowering plants in clusters. Add the the next group of plants that grow to a medium height in the middle and the plants that are the shortest at the front. Bees cannot see red, so the best flower colors for a food plot for honey bees are blue, yellow, white and purple. Examples are the Black-Eyed Susan, Zinnia, Cosmos, Sunflower and Salvia.

Step 3

Avoid plants that are described as double flowering. This means they have extra petals within the flowers that hide the pollen producing parts of the flower. The additional petals of double flowering plants make it difficult for the bees to collect pollen. Examples of double flowering plants are hybrid tea roses and double flowering impatiens and petunias.

Step 4

Do not add mulch around the plants, as adding mulch discourages ground nesting bees. About 70 percent of the native honeybee species occasionally nest in the ground.

Step 5

Provide a source of water for the bees by filling a shallow tray or bird bath with water. Put a few flat stones in the tray to create a shallow drinking area for the bees.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never use pesticides of any kind on your bee garden. Bee gardens attract many beneficial insects, as well as butterflies and their larvae.

Things You'll Need

  • Flowering plants
  • Shovel

References

  • UC Berkeley: Urban Bee Gardens
  • Maryland Dept of Natural Resources: Creating a Wild Backyard - Bees
  • NRDC: Make your Garden Bee Safe
Keywords: bee garden, bee food plots, attracting honeybees

About this Author

Based in Rockdale Texas, Jim Gober has been writing garden-related articles for 25 years. His articles appear in several Texas newspapers including The Rockdale Reporter, The Lexington Leader, The Cameron Herald and The Hearne Democrat. He is a Master Gardener and Certified Texas Nursery and Landscape Professional. He holds bachelor degrees in English Writing from St. Edward's University and Finance from Lamar University.