Bees are such wonderful creatures to have in the yard, always hard at work collecting pollen and nectar for the hive. It’s easy to underestimate how important these little pollinators are for us and life on Earth.
Seeing bees buzzing around out in the yard always brings a smile to my face so I’ve looked up a bunch of great flowers for us nature lovers to grow. If you enjoy the idea of helping out the bees too and like the cheerful activity they bring to your garden, read this guide to the best flowers for bees to attract more of them.
In this guide, I’ll show you 20 types of flowers bees love and give you some more useful information about each plant like:
- Flowering times
- USDA Hardiness Zone
- Plant size
- Sunlight requirements
- 10 Ways To Attract Hummingbirds
- 6 Tips On How To Get Rid Of Starlings
- 7 Ways To Keep Bees Away From Hummingbird Feeders
Best Flowers For Bees: 20 Flowers To Attract Bees
20 Of The Best Flowers For Bees
1. Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
The coneflower is a beautiful North American native that bees just love. These plants can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-10 and will bloom in the summer and fall and grow to about 4ft in height.
This perennial plant is famous for both its immune-boosting properties and its beauty. If you’re looking for some pretty flowers bees love, the coneflower is a great choice. As an added bonus, this plant is also a good source of food for hummingbirds.
2. Cranesbill (Geranium spp.)
The cranesbill or hardy geranium is another plant that bees love. These hardy little perennials produce loads of flowers for much of the year, all the way from spring to fall.
One of the real benefits of this plant is its hardiness and most of the cranesbills can be grown down to USDA hardiness zone 5.
3. Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
The black-eyed Susan is one of the best flowers for honey bees. These plants grow to about 3ft tall and bloom from June to October.
This flower is easy to grow in full sun and can be grown in zones 7-9. Black-eyed Susans will usually live for 2 years or so but can be grown as a versatile and hardy annual.
4. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Butterfly weeds are great-looking plants that attract bees. These plants are native to the northeastern parts of the United States and will grow well in zones 3-9.
These perennials grow up to about 3ft tall and wide and will flower well in May to September if grown in full sun. Butterfly weed isn’t only visited by bees, hummingbirds love this plant too.
5. Poppy (Papaver spp.)
Poppies are a great source of pollen for bees. These annuals can be grown in USDA Zones 3-9 in full sun or semi-shade.
Depending on which species you grow, poppies can reach over 3ft in height. The flower color varies from white through pink to red or purple.
6. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Rosemary is a fantastic plant that bees happen to love. This great smelling plant grows to about 4ft tall and just as wide.
These tough plants come from the Mediterranean and like lots of sunshine and well-drained soil. Our rosemary plants grow on almost bare rock in my backyard! These fast-growing herbs do best in zones 7-11.
7. Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
Lavender is another lovely herb from Europe that has flowers bees love. This plant will grow to about 3ft tall and 4ft across in well-drained soil and a sunny spot. These plants are tough and easy to grow, just don’t plant them in a spot that stays too moist.
These plants bloom in summer and can be grown in zones 5 to 9. Our lavender plants do great in containers on my porch and attract plenty of busy bees and pollinators.
8. Bee balm (Monarda spp.)
Bee balm is a native North American perennial that has beautiful, fragrant white, pink, red, or purple flowers that attract bees. Grow this plant in full sun where it can grow up to 4ft tall and 3ft wide.
Bee balm grows best in zones 3-9 and blooms in the summer months.
9. New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
The New England aster can grow to over 6ft tall and bloom from August to October. The gorgeous lavender, blue, white, or pink blossoms of this plant are loved by bees and attract loads of butterflies as well.
Grow these plants in part shade, in zones 4-8, and enjoy all the flying pollinators that will visit your yard.
10. Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
Cosmos is native to the southern United States and Mexico. These plants reach about 4ft in height and 3ft across.
The beautiful pink and white flowers are highly attractive to bees and pollinators when they bloom from summer until the first frost. These plants can be grown in full sun in zones 2-11.
11. California Lilac (Ceanothus spp.)
This shrub produces beautiful white, pink, lilac, or blue flowers in winter to spring. These plants like lots of sun, but not too much wind.
If planted in the right spot, the California lilac can grow as tall as 10ft. Depending on which species you grow, these plants could be hardy to zones as low as 4 and as high as 10.
12. Rose Glory Bower (Clerodendrum bungei)
The rose glory bower is a shrub that grows 3-6ft tall and wide and produces just the kind of flowers that bees love. This plant stays evergreen in warmer areas and grows best in full sun.
Rose glory bower is native to China and Northern India and can be grown in zones 7-10. This is a great plant for pollinators but keep it under control as they can grow quite aggressively.
13. Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
Cornflowers are annuals that produce stunning blue flowers. This flower grows best in full sun and well-drained soil in zones 2-11.
I love the look of these flowers, and so do the pollinators. Cornflowers attract bees in the early to mid-summer and grow to about 3ft tall and 2ft wide.
14. St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)
St. John’s Wort grows to about 3ft tall. These plants produce yellow, bee-attracting flowers from June to September.
These plants are native to Africa, Europe, and Asia. Grow your St. John’s Wort in zones 3-8 and enjoy all the flying visitors this plant attracts.
15. Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
The great thing about Mahonias like the Oregon grape is that they flower in the fall to winter months when not much else is available for bees. These evergreen shrubs like shady places and can grow to 10ft tall in USDA zones 5-9.
Mahonias produce masses of yellow flowers which are great for pollinators like bees.
16. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
Foxglove can be grown in part to full shade and does well in light soil. These plants usually flower in their second summer and are very attractive to bees and might even attract hummingbirds too.
Foxglove grows to about 5ft tall and 2ft across and can be grown in zones 4-9.
17. Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Sunflowers can be grown in zones 2-11 where they will flower in the summer if grown in full sun. Sunflowers are usually yellow but can also be orange, red, or even brown.
Carefully select the variety of sunflower you want to grow because some varieties grow more than 12ft tall! There are smaller options that only reach about 2 or 3ft as well though.
18. Nasturtium (Tropaeolum spp.)
Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are attracted to this summer and fall flowering annual. These plants like it warm and grow best in zones 10 and 11.
Nasturtiums usually produce orange flowers but white, yellow, and red also occur. Grow your nasturtiums in sandy soil and full sun for the best results.
The great thing about nasturtiums is that their flowers are edible, so you can enjoy them along with the bees!
19. Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Sage is another wonderful herb that attracts bees and butterflies. Sage flowers are pink or purple and bloom in the summer.
You can grow sage in USDA hardiness zones 4-10. These plants like lots of sunshine and a sandy soil and will grow to be about 2ft tall.
2o. Winter jasmine
The winter jasmine produces lovely yellow flowers in the winter, a time when not much else is available to the bees. These plants usually grow as a vine or a low mounding shrub and do well in zones 6-9.
Grow your winter jasmine in full to partial sun and enjoy watching the bees come to visit.
Flowers That Attract Bees
Bees visit flowers for two reasons, to collect nectar and to collect pollen. Some flowers produce both, and some are good sources of only one.
Nectar is a great energy source that bees can use to make honey, an important food source for the colony, especially in the winter months. Pollen is high in protein and bees use this for feeding their larvae to help them grow.
Bees are most attracted to yellow, blue, and purple flowers with simple forms, but they will visit flowers of any shape or color if they provide the valuable forage the bees are searching for.
Why Attract Bees?
- Bees are really important for food crops and the economy, so many jobs and livelihoods depend on these little creatures that we should all do our bit to protect them as much as possible.
- Bees are also fun to watch and study in their own right. Apart from the introduced honeybee, there are over 4000 native bee species in the United States.
- Sometimes bees get in where they’re not wanted, and if you’re looking for a way to keep bees away from your hummingbird feeders, growing plants to attract them instead is a great idea.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
(To be placed before final thoughts)
What Attracts Bees the Most?
Bees in their large numbers consume floral nectar. It makes natural that bees would be drawn to sugars and scents that smell floral or sweet since nectar is delicious. You might see bees at your picnic because of this, especially if you’re consuming sweet beverages or eating fruits like pineapple and watermelon.
Which Flower Color Draws Bees the Most?
Flowers with vibrant colors draw insects and birds. Bright colors were driven by evolution to attract pollinators to flowers. Does the flower’s color affect its ability to draw bees? They do, indeed!
Because bees do not perceive color in the same way that humans do, they are drawn to specific floral colors. Bees are drawn to plants that are on the blue and yellow ends of the color wavelength because they can easily distinguish those hues.
Additionally, they have the ability to see blue, violet, and “bee’s purple.” Bee’s purple is made up of ultraviolet and yellow light. People are therefore unable to see it. Studies have shown that purple, violet, and blue are the colors that attract bees the most.
But since black is the utter lack of color, darker colors like red appear black to bees. For this reason, bees are not drawn to red plants by nature.
What Scares Bees Away the Most?
Bees are naturally curious, unlike other flying insects, which are drawn to the fragrance of humans. Although fragrance is the simplest source of attraction for these visitors, it’s also the simplest repellent! Just use scents that people find appealing but bees find revolting.
These unappealing scents include thyme, eucalyptus, peppermint, and spearmint. Spray generously over areas you don’t want them—or anywhere else you intend to spend time with loved ones and guests. By adding a generous amount of essential oil containing one or more of these herbs to a container you will keep them out of bounds.
Olive oil, vegetable oil, lemon, lime, citronella, lavender, and citronella oil are similarly repulsive to bees. You can put any of these topical defenses on your skin to deter bees when working in a bee environment. A bee will fly away once it smells any of the smells mentioned above.
Now that you know 20 flowers to attract bees, get out there and get gardening. My advice is to plant flowers of different colors for a bit of variety. Another important thing I would suggest is to plant a selection that will bloom throughout the year so there’s always food available to your bees.
Enjoy your new flowers and the bees they attract!