How to attract bees to your garden

I love the title of this article because my weird imagination goes wild and I immediately think of someone dressing up in a bee suit and buzzing around their backyard, maybe even shaking their tail in an attempt to tempt some bees. Unfortunately, that won’t really work, but fortunately we’ve got some easier (and probably less embarrassing) ways to invite the neighbourhood bees to be your guest.

Plant native pollinator flowers. Bees love flowers! And rightfully so. It’s their source of food, pollen, and even a little napping spot when they get tired. So you can never go wrong by planting lots of flowers in your garden. Some flowers are a bit better than others, and these include native flowers or flowers that bloom all summer long and keep the bees busy with nectar and pollen. When you go to the greenhouse to buy the plants or seeds, make sure to ask which flower varieties they would suggest. West Coast Seeds has a bee specific wildflower blend that you could keep an eye out for including these flower varieties:

Chinese Forget-Me-Not — Cynoglossum amabile

Siberian Wallflower — Cheiranthus allionii

California Poppy — Eschscholzia californica

Purple Coneflower — Echinacea purpurea

China Aster — Callistephus chinensis

Corn Poppy — Papaver rhoeas

Lance Leaved Coreopsis — Coreopsis lanceolata

Blue Flax — Linum perenne

Baby Blue Eyes — Nemophila menziesii

Globe Gilia — Gilia capitata

Indian Blanket — Gaillardia pulchella

Tidy Tips — Layia platyglossa

Plains Coreopsis — Coreopsis tinctoria

Sweet Alyssum — Lobularia maritima

Lavender Hyssop — Agastache foeniculum

Fleabane Daisy — Erigeron speciosus

New England Aster — Symphyotrichum novae-angliae

Bergamot — Monarda fistulosa

A few other  flowers and plants you could grow are:

Everbearing strawberries. These keep producing flowers all summer long and will even supply you with some sweet treats once they’re grown. 

Agastache flowers. I have personally seen a clump of these flowers and bees just flocking to them, busily trying to buzz from one flower to the next. There were over 50 honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees just soaking up every bit of nectar that these flowers were producing. 

Chives. Not only do these herbs produce big, puffy purple flowers that bees get into a buzzing frenzy over, but you also get to harvest and use the chives all summer long!

Put out water dishes with rocks in them. Bees need to drink too and putting small rocks in the dish will give them a little perch that they can drink from. Plus if they fall in the water, they’ll have a little ramp that they can use to escape.

Give them a bit of a boost. You may have noticed bees stopping and taking a little break because they seem tired. If you ever notice a bee in this state, mix equal parts of warm water and sugar and offer it to the bee. Hopefully that will perk it right up and give it enough energy to keep on buzzing. Or you could leave a little dish of this solution out, but it would probably entice other less welcome guests, so I wouldn’t recommend it.

Make bee hotels. As I’m sure you know, honey bees live together as a colony in big hives. However, there are a wide variety of solitary bees that burrow in the ground, find little knots in wood, or a hole in a reed where they can settle in at night. Solitary bees also lay their eggs in these spaces and therefore need a protected, dry place for their shelter. You can provide a useful shelter by building a little bee hotel and put it in a corner that is tucked away from the bustle and movement of the garden. This will also hopefully prevent you, your kids, or pets from coming in too much contact with the hotel and disturbing its residents. Here are some instructions if you’d like to give this project a try. 

As we’ve all heard how bee populations are on a steady decline and yes, this is devastating to the bees but it’s also devastating to us and the ecosystem that we live in. Bees are one of the most important pollinators and without pollination, many plants won’t produce fruit, vegetables, and other foods that we eat everyday. So let’s take care of these cute little creatures!