Lack of flowers is one of the biggest problems facing honey bees and we are often asked what should I plant to help bees. Bees need flowers not just for the nectar to make honey but also for pollen so here are a few suggestions:
One popular garden plant is lavender.
Good varieties for bees are:
Lavender Edelweiss, Lavender Gros Bleu, Lavender Hidcote Giant, Lavender Melissa Lilac and Lavender Imperial Gem.
Other good plants include Mahonia Media, Lonicera Fragrantissima, Cotoneaster, Pyracantha and Berberis Darwinii.
For pollen one of the best plants is Ceanothus with varieties Autumnal Blue and Blue Mound being popular.
Viburnum and Philadelphus are excellent for bees but stick to the single flower varieties.
If you allow herbs to flower then the bees with find them. Rosemary, Sage, Origanum and Thyme are all good.
Bees really love borage and can be seen all over this pretty blue flower. It makes a lovely light honey.
Other suggestions are:
Alliums, snowdrops, agastache “Black Adder”, helenium autumnale, veronicastrum,verbena bonariensis, sedum spectabile and nepete.
Fruit trees will give bees a supply of nectar and pollen for the short period they flower and a particular favorite is the cherry.
If you are planing roses then the open rosa rugosa is very good for bees
More controversial in many gardens is the dandelion but if you want to help bees this is one of the best flowers out there. It has a beautiful yellow flower, magnificent seed head and you can make salads from the leaves and beer from the roots. What more do you want from a plant?
Something for the end of the year. After most of the flowers have finished the bees are still looking for winter stores and one of the best sources is ivy. In September you will often hear the ivy alive with bees bringing in the winter stores.
Finally, if you can leave a bit of the garden wild brambles make the most wonderful honey and provide the bees with a fantastic source of nectar and pollen in the summer.
If you want to know more there is great advice on planting for pollinators on the RHS website at https://www.rhs.org.uk/science/conservation-biodiversity/wildlife/plants-for-pollinators
Good luck with your planting.