What Flowers Do Bees Pollinate?
Plants that do not self-pollinate need other means to reproduce. These plants attract pollinators with their flowers, which lure insects, sometimes birds, with their pollen and nectar. Bees are among the active pollinators of plants, but not all plants attract bees. They only go to plants with flowers that have quality pollen and nectar. Bees pollinate many flowering plants and those included here are just a few examples.
Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum ×superbum), is a common flower used in perennial borders. It grows reliably well in USDA zones 4 to 9. Shasta daisy requires full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Use moist but well-drained soil for optimum growth. Valued for its long blooming season, Shasta daisy attracts bees from spring to summer with its bright white, yellow-eyed flowers. Flowers range from 2 to 5 inches in diameter with floral habits varying from a single row of rays to double-flowered. The dark green basal leaves are somewhat fleshy, toothed and measure up to 12 inches long. Shasta daisy generally is bushy with erect stems of up to 5 feet tall. Plant Shasta daisy in fall or spring. Deadheading encourages reblooming and extends the flowering season.
Growing up to 3-½ feet tall, purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) has stems that have small purple streaks and scattered white hairs. Dark green, hairy, broadly lanceolate or ovate leaves have spaced teeth along the margins and measure up to 6 inches long and 3 inches across. Daisy-like, fragrant, purple flowers are about 3 to 4 inches across and consist of a large central cone of yellowish to reddish brown disk florets. Approximately 10 to 20 purple, long and droopy ray florets surround the flattened but prickly central cone, which bees find attractive. Flowers bloom in mid-summer and last about a month, but may come back during early fall after a brief dormancy. Purple coneflower is hardy to USDA zone 4 to 8, prefers full or partial sun and moist to mesic (moderate moist) conditions. It grows best in fertile loam, but the soil can contain some gravel or clay. Long-tongued bees, bee flies, Halictine bees, butterflies and skippers love purple coneflowers. Long-tongued bees include honeybees, bumblebees, miner bees and large leaf-cutting bees.
An annual wildflower, sunflower (Helianthus annuus) has a large, stout, erect, coarse, tap-rooted flower with hairy stems approximately 2 to 10 feet tall. It has alternate, egg-shaped to triangular, toothed leaves. Flowerheads measuring 3 to 6 inches wide have yellow ray florets and reddish-brown disk florets. Flowers bloom from mid- to late summer and have a characteristic musty smell that is peculiar to sunflowers. Hardy to USDA zones 3 to 10, sunflowers need full sun and will grow in a wide range of soil types from sands to clays. Long-tongued bees and short-tongued bees (Halictine bees, alkali bees and some Andrenid bees) pollinate sunflowers.