Vancouver Bee Plants

     This a just a few of the flowers, shrubs, trees and crop plants that provide bees with nectar and pollen in our part of the world (Vancouver - Plant hardiness zone 8).  A book "Plants and Beekeeping" by F.N. Howes (1945) is an old but good source of information.  For more information on "Bee Plants" in your area of the world go to the Planting for Pollinators section of our Beekeepers' Library.  For a list of high yield honey bee plants click herePlantfiles is a great place for identifying plants and I find Leafsnap very useful for identifying tree species, many being great sources of pollen and nectar.  A good resource for growing food is the Grow Biointensive website which offers a complete sustainable agricultural learning experience. 

     Although the plants listed here are grown in hardiness zone 8 at our garden in Vancouver  most of them will grow in zones 4-9 and there are varieties that will grow in most areas.  To start planting for pollinators you must first discover what plant hardiness zone you are in.  This will tell you what plants are suitable for your specific location. Below are plant hardiness zone maps of North America and the World.

                                           Anemone (Japanese)

     The Japanese Anemone (Anemone hupehensis) is native to China but has been naturalized in Japan for hundreds of years. It will grow 90-120 cm (3-4 ft) high and likes to grow in partially shady areas under the protection of large plants.  It likes slightly acidic soil, grows in hardiness zones 5a-8b and blooms from late summer into the fall.  It can be propogated by rootball division.  It is particularly important for us as a bee forage plant because of it's late season October blooms.  In our area (Vancouver) I concentrate on planting those plants which will flower in September and October when there is a lack of forage for the bees.  The primary autumn flowering plants for us are aster, anemone, calendula and borage. 

                                  Artichoke Thistle

     The Artichoke Thistle or Cardoon is native to the Mediterranean and because it self-sows freely is considered an invasive species in California, Australia, New Zealand and parts of South America (Check your local sources to see the invasive status of the Cardoon in your area).  The Cardoon is not invasive in our region, has large, purple edible flowers, can be grown in zones 4-9 and likes a full sun.  This beautiful, flowering plant can grow in poor (clay) soil and is drought resistant.  It grows to 8 ft (2.5 meters) and is a favourite of all the pollinators. 


     There are a wide range of asters in virtually every colour in the rainbow.  Following a genetic discovery in the l990's the formerly North American Asters were reclassified to other genera though still referred to as asters.  The genus Aster is now restricted to the Old World species (Eurasia).  This plant is easy to grow, will grow in hardiness zones 4-8, likes full to partial sun and most species bloom in late summer to fall.  In our garden we have a number of common Asian Asters that grow to 1.5 meters (5 ft) in height and produce a mass of flowers from August to October.  This is particularly important to the bees for late season foraging when there tends to be a shortage of available bee food.


     This flowering Allium (from the latin for garlic) is a member of the onion family of plants.  There are hundreds of distinct species of Allium, predominantly native to temperate climates of the northern hemisphere.  The flowers form at the top of a leafless stalk and like flowers of all members of the onion family (chive, onion, leek and garlic) are attractive to bees.  This plant is easy to grow and can reach heights of 150 cm.  


     People might be surprised to see a picture of a bean plant but bees forage in vegetable flowers as well as fruits.  The picture above is of a scarlet runner bean flowering in October but there is a wide variety of beans that flower from late spring to early fall.  Beans are easy to grow and prolific producers.  The two main varieties are bush bean and pole and the green bean is the most popular but you can also find yellow, purple, red and streaked varieties. 

                                          Bee Balm

     Bee Balm is native to North America and may go by the common names Oswego tea, Horsemint and bergamot.  The flowers colours include pink, red and white and the plant will grow to a height of between 60-120 cms (2-4 ft).  It likes full sun to partial shade and should be divided every 3-4 years.  Bee Balm will bloom from mid to late summer and will attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds (but not deer).


     The Blackberry (Rubus armeniacus) or Himalayan Blackberry is native to Armenia and Northern Iran but has naturalized throughout temperate regions of the world. The thorny canes of the plant grow in a vine like manner 4-10mts in length producing side shoots in the second year. Spread primarily by berry consuming birds the plant has become extremely invasive, especially in our mild temperate climate. They flower here from May to September, can be found growing in every neighbourhood and are a great food source for our bees. Once they have become established they are very difficult to remove. I have had some success with constant annual digging of the root balls. 

                                            Black Locust Tree
Photo by AnRo0002
      The Black Locust tree (Robinia Psuedoaccacia) is a medium sized hardwood deciduous tree that needs full sun and is native to the eastern U.S. For us it produces thousands of fragrant blossoms in June that the bees love and makes good honey. In our community garden it was planted 30 ago because we had a clay soil which the Black Locust roots are able to break up and has the added benefit of nitrogen fixing. The negative aspect of this tree is it is very invasive both through large bean like seed pods and more so through suckers. Planter beware. The single tree has multiplied to a few hundred and has become a major contributor to our bee population food supply.


     Blueberries (Cyanococcus) are native to North America and are one of the favourite fruits of bees and humans.  They have one of the highest antioxidant capacities of any food type which makes consumption of bluberries important in the prevention of illnesses like cancer and coronary diseases.  Although there are over 100 different varieties of blueberries there are two basic types being the smaller species known as lowbush or wild and the larger commercially cultivated highbush blueberries.  Due to hybridization you can plant blueberries in our area that will produce berries from May to the beginning of October.  They like full sun and acidic soil (important).  The popular method of acidifying your soil has been to add peat moss but the depletion of peat from the few remaining bog ecosystems makes this an environmentally insensitive choice.  Other methods of acidification include pine needles and bark, coffee grounds, sulphur and commercially available acidifiers.          

Nutrients in
1.00 cup (148.00 grams)
Nutrient%Daily Value

vitamin K35.7%


vitamin C23.9%


Calories (84)4%


      The latin name is Centaurea Montana and the numerous common names include Mountain Bluet, Mountain Cornflower and perrenial Cornflower "Gold Bullion".  This plant is easy to grow and a friendly invasive (controllable).  It likes full sun, neutral ph, grows 24-36 inches and can bloom from late spring to fall.  The early flowering plants will self seed the fall bloomers.  It is rated to grow in hardiness zones 3a to 8b.  Bees and butterflies are attracted to this plant. ;


     Borage (Borago Officinalis) also referred as Starflower originated in Syria but has naturalized throughout the world.  It is an annual herb that readily self seeds but is an easily controllable volunteer.  I have never planted Borage but it pops up each year throughout the garden and is a favourite of bees.  It grows to a height of 60-100 cm (2-3.3 ft) and has blue star shaped flowers.  It's considered a good companion plant for tomatoes, squash and strawberries and both the flowers and leaves are edible (leaves when young) and have a cucumber like flavour.  Naturopathic practitioners use borage to regulate patient's metabolism and hormonal system.


     There are approximately 100 different species of Buddleia (Butterfly bush) coming in a variety of colours (white, pink, red, orange, purple and yellow) and sizes.  The most popular varieties grow about 5 mts (15 ft) tall, are easy to grow, like a full sun, good drainage, are drought tolerant and can be invasive in some areas.  In our garden it is a controllable volunteer.  It flowers from mid summer to fall and you can deadhead (remove spent flowers to encourage reflowering).  The plant can be pruned hard in the spring to maintain the compact bush shape.  It is wonderfully fragrant and attractive to butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.



     Calendula is one of the most important plants for bees simply because it flowers well into autumn when few other sources of food for the bees are available.  The Calendula is in the daisy (Asteraceae) family and is native to the Mediterranean east to Iran.  It is an annual but is a prolific self-seeder (a friendly invasive).  Calendula is easy to grow and will tolerate most soils, likes part sun to full sun, grows 30-60 cms (1-2 ft) tall and comes in different shades of yellow and orange.  An autumn favourite for the bees.  


     Chives (latin - Allium Cepa) like all members of the onion family are a favourite of bees.  There are a few varieties including garlic chives.  They like full sun, grow to 18 inches (45 cm), prefer mildly acidic soil and self seed.  This plant is a favourite of mine because it grows easily, can be harvested 12 months of the year and adds an onion flavouring that goes well with many foods.



      Clematis is a genus of about 300 species belonging to the buttercup family.  Native to China, new cultivars are being produced constantly with varieties that bloom in spring, summer and even double blooming varieties.  A woody, climbing vine, they prefer cool, moist well drained soil and full sun.  There are varieties that will survive in the cold of hardiness zone 3 and those that will thrive in the tropical heat of zone 11.  A beautiful, big, showy
flower that the bees love.


     There are over 300 species of Clover that grow throughout the world and here you would be hard pressed to find a field, lawn or playground without it. The primary species are white and red and clover is a good nectar source for honey bees.


     Columbine (Aquilegia) is a genus of about 60-70 species of perennial plants found in the meadows and woodlands at higher altitudes in the Northern Hemisphere.  This plant will grow in full sun but prefers partial shade, grows to a height of 15-20 inches (35-55 cm), likes well drained soil and is hardy to zone 3.  It comes in a variety of colours and florets, can be propagated from seed and will self seed and blooms from late spring to early summer.


      The brightly coloured Corydalis is a great shade plant.  It comes in many colours, likes moist organic soil, is shade tolerant, deer resistant, grows in hardiness zones 4-9, grows to a height of 60 cms (24 inches) and self seeds but is controllable.  The flowers are fragrant and attract bees and butterflies.  


     Cosmos are herbaceous, perennial plants that come in a variety of colours and sizes.  They like a full sun, will grow a half to 1.5 metres (18-60 inches) in height and bloom from summer to fall.  Deadhead the plants to prolong flowering and taller varieties may have to be staked.  They will self seed so occasionally may have to be separated.  


      The Cottonwood is a large, deciduous, hardwood tree (20-60 mt or 65-195 ft tall) native to eastern North America which likes full sun. It is a poplar which are good nectar sources but their pollen is not very nutritious. "European Honey Bees discovered that the properties of cottonwood resin which benefitted cottonwood trees could also benefit them. They collect the resin from the outside of Eastern Cottonwood buds, mix it with wax and apply it to the walls of their nest cavity. This “bee glue” is referred to as propolis, and, as it turns out, serves as an antimicrobial barrier as well as a sealant. Various bacteria, fungi and other harmful microbes are kept at bay by the resin contained in propolis. It also directly reduces two diseases of Honey Bees, chalkbrood and American foulbrood (from Naturally Curious)." In the photo above you can see the tufts of hair that attach to seeds which look like cotton and aid in the dispersal of the seeds. For us in June it seems like it is snowing which makes a mess and aggravates allergies. Some city landscapers in our area call the tree "the widow maker" because it's fast growth produces large brittle branches which break off when you least expect it.


     A wonderful early spring flower that comes in a variety of colours (pink, red, orange, yellow, purple, blue ...).  There is also a lesser known autumn variety.  The bulbs or corms are planted in the fall before the ground freezes and will naturalize and spread, coming back year after year.  They like a part to full sun, grow in planting zones 3-8 and though they prefer good drainage will grow in any type of soil.  


     With over 23,000 species the Daisy family or Compositae (Asteraceae) is probably the largest family of flowering plants.  These include Dahlia, Chrysanthemum, Aster and Calendula but in this case we will discuss only those referred to as a daisy.  The Saxon name for the common Daisy is "day's eye" because they noted that at night the petals close over the interior yellow or sun only to open again at the start of a new day. They come in a wide variety of colours and range in size from 30-150 cms (1-5 ft).  They are easy to grow, will tolerate most soil types and they prefer full sun.  They should be deadheaded (spent blossoms removed) to prolong flowering and should be divided every 3-5 years.  In the coldest climates cover the plants with a thick layer of mulch.  The daisy above is the Shasta daisy which I don't remember planting (volunteer) and through division has produced about a dozen offspring.  It grows to a height of 5 ft and is a favourite of aphid farming ants.  The Daisy provides forage for both the honey and native bees.



     The Dandelion (Taraxacum) is a small annual plant (6-12'') with a single, yellow flower which is native to temperate regions of North America but has been introduced to temperate areas worldwide. In our area of the world no one plants it and it is definitely considered an invasive weed. Far too much herbicide has been sprayed in an attempt to remove it from lawns. In reality the Dandelion is a remarkable plant and the entire plant is edible and the flower petals, along with other ingredients, are used to make dandelion wine. The leaves are best when they first appear or after the first frost (Recipes). The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee.  Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer.  Also, Dandelions were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry mostly in salads and sandwiches.  Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C, K, niacin, riboflaven and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and beta carotene.  Lecithin in the flower detoxifies the liver.  As well Dandelions nourish other plants through it's long (up to 3 ft) tap root which brings minerals and nutrients from a less contaminated part of the soil to the surface where it is utilized by the shorter roots of neighbouring plants.  If you break the stem of a dandelion the white fluid that appears can be used to ease the pain of bee stings or sores. Best of all it is a great source of nectar for bees.

                              Deutzia (Strawberry Fields)

     Deutzia is a genus of about 60 species of shrubs in the Hydrangeaceae family native to Asia, Europe and Central America with China having over 50 different species.  This particular Deutzia (Strawberry Fields) likes a full sun, grows 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 mts) in height, blooms for us in June and will grow in hardiness zones 5-9.  When is bloom the Deutzia is covered in native and honey bees.


     Echinacea or Purple Coneflower is in the daisy family and native to eastern and northern North America.  It's large flowers (not just purple anymore - new varieties) are particularly attractive to all of the pollinators.  They will grow in hardiness zones 3-8 and there are even varieties that will tolerated the heat and humidity of zones 9 and 10.  Echinacea prefers full sun but will tolerate part shade, should be deadheaded (spent flowers removed) to encourage repeat blooming and for us is particularly important as a late summer (September-October) food source for the bees.  


     There are many different varieties of  Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis Arvensis) but most have 5 lobed blue, pink or white flowers with yellow centres.  They grow to a height of 6-18 inches (15-45 cms), will tolerate partial shade, prefer moist habitats, will bloom from mid spring to mid summer and can be invasive in wetland areas.  The seed pods are found at the stem of the flower, attach to clothing when brushed against and eventually fall off to germinate in a new location.  In my garden it is a controllable volunteer.
                      In Evangeline, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote,
                    Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of Heaven,
                    Blossom the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.

                             Geranium (Cranesbill)

     The Bigroot Cranesbill geranium (Geranium macrorrhizum) is a vigorous 6-12 inch (15-30 cm) high ground cover that can bloom from late spring to summer.  It likes partial to full sun, a neutral ph soil and will grow in hardiness zones 3a-9a.  It can be propagated by dividing the tubers.  The bees like this plant but it does not flower for a long period of time.

                            Geranium (Johnson's Blue)

     This hardy, himalayan Johnson's Blue geranium will grow 12-18 inches (30-45cm) high, likes partial to full sun and will tolerate most soil ph conditions.  It blooms from spring to summer and can be grown in hardiness zones 3a-8b.  It can be propogated by division of the rootball.  I love this plant because it is blue (my favourite colour) and because it flowers longer than the cranesbill geranium above.


      There are several varieties of Goldenrod Aster and  though not native to western Canada, the Canadian Goldenrod variety (Solidago canadensis) is a controllable invasive in western Canada. Once extablished it will spread by rhizomes or creeping root stalks. It can be grown from seed and I have had success transplanting.  Goldenrod likes full sun, tolerates drought, acid to neutral soil, hardiness zones 3-9 and will grow 1-2 mt. (3-6 ft) in height.  It is loved by all species of bees, flowers for us from August through September and produces a darker, uniquely flavored honey which I'm fond of.    



     Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria) which is sometimes called ground elder, herb gerard, bishop's weed and snow-in-the-mountains is a perennial plant in the carrot family that can be extremely invasive.  It is native to Eurasia, spreads by underground rhizomes and is difficult to stop once it has started.  However,  like most invasive plants it is a favourite of bees and butterflies.  My suggestion is do not plant Goutweed.


     Heather (Calluna Vulgaris) is a low growing perennial shrub native to Europe and Asia Minor.  The plant usually grows 20-50 centimetres (7.5-20 inches) in height, likes acidic soils and full to partial sun conditions.  There are many varieties with most being either pink, purple or white in colour.  Some varieties bloom in late summer but ours, referred to as "Winter Heather" blooms in early spring providing an early season food source for the bees.  Heather will grow in hardiness zones 4-8.


     The Honeysuckles are deciduous arching shrubs or twining vines in the  Caprifoliaceae family and are native to the northern hemisphere.  They like a full sun to part shade; neutral soil ph; hardiness zone 4-10 (subtropical species); come in a variety of colours; are propagated by leaf or stem cuttings; will grow to 20 ft (6 mts); produces a lot of fragrant flowers through the summer that are very attractive to the pollinators.  


      The Hydrangea is native to Asia, North and South America but by far the greatest diversity of plants is found in Eastern Asia (China, Japan and Korea).  The most popular form of Hydrangea is the shrub which can be grown in hardiness zones 3-9, likes part sun to shade, prefers acidic soil and blooms from spring to fall.  The white form is not affected by the ph or acidity of the soil but in the blue, pink, red and purple species the colour is determined by the ph.
You can use a commercial acidifier, pine needles or sulphur to change the ph of your soil.  All of the pollinators love the large flowers of the hydrangea and the specific benefit is that these beautiful, large flowering shrubs can be grown in a shade garden.  I've noticed that while the flowers are attractive to our honey and native bees the  Western Tiger Swallowtail (Paplio rutulus) is particularly attracted to the large flowers.


     There are 300 different species of Iris which comes from the Greek work for rainbow, referring to the wide variety of colours found in these plants.  They prefer full to part sun, grow in hardiness zones 4-9, like neutral acidity, good drainage and prefer the rhizomes to be exposed rather than bulbs which like to be deep in the soil.  They grow to 2.5 ft (75 cms), flower through the summer and should be divided every 2-5 years.  


     There are many different varieties of Kale (brassica family) which provide edible leaves that are very nutritious.  The flowering Kale can grow 1.2-1.8 meters (4-6 ft), can be grown in hardiness zones 5a-9b, likes full sun, mildly alkaline soil and will bloom in the late spring.  For propogation allow the seed heads to dry on the plant.  This is a major food source for my bees in the spring.


     The Lavender (Lanvandula) is in the mint family and is native to southern Europe, northern Africa east to India.  There are many different varieties that will grow in hardiness zones 6a-10b and depending on the variety can bloom form early spring to late fall.  This plant will grow 60-90 cm (24-36 inches) high, likes a full sun and it's fragrant flowers will attract bees and butterflies.  Cut back the spent flowers to encourage continuous blooming.  This is a major food source for my bees.


      Lily or Lilium are native to the temperate region of the northern hemisphere. They grow 2-6 ft in many colors from bulbs that can be separated for propagation. Lilies prefer acidic soil but will tolerate most types and will attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.


     Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena) is an annual flowering plant native to southern Europe, northern Africa and southwest Asia.  It prefers full to part sun, grows to a height of 2 ft (60 cms), flowers from late spring to fall and self seeds freely but is not aggressively invasive (friendly invasive).  Individual plants are short lived so for a continuous bloom repeat sow every 4 weeks.  Once the plant is established (self sown) this will not be necessary.


     Our native Lupine variety, the Big-Leaved Lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) are a pretty herbaceous perennial flower which blooms for us in the late summer.  There are many varieties which come in almost every colour and range in size from .5-1.5 mts (1-5 ft) and produce an array of small flowers around an erect spike.  This flower likes a neutral ph soil, full sun (will tolerate light shade) and bees love it. This variety has become invasive in some parts of eastern North america.


      The Mallow family of plants, Malvacea includes a diverse group of plants including the tropical hibiscus, rose of sharon, common mallow and hollyhocks.  The mallows in our garden are controllable volunteers but there are varieties that in some areas are quite invasive.  The friendly visiting mallow in our garden grows 4-6 ft (1.2-1.8 mts) in height, likes full sun to partial shade, acidic soil, blooms through the summer and will grow in hardiness zones 4-9.  The big, showy flowers are a favourite of bees.


     The Malva is a beautiful bushy plant that flowers for us in late summer.  It is a cousin of the Hollyhock and comes in a variety of colours and heights.  It likes full sun, neutral ph, average soil type and will grow to a height of 120 cms (48 inches).  It will self seed, grows well in containers and attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.     

                                Marigold (Marsh)

      There are many varieties of Marsh Marigold (Caltha Palustris) which are in the buttercup family and native to temperate regions of the Northern hemisphere. The variety in our garden is a low growing ground cover that blooms in the spring.  This plant likes partial shade and can become invasive in clay soils where pieces of root will break off and spread.  In well drained soils this is not a problem.  It is attractive to both bees and butterflies.


     Mint (Mentha) is a fragrant, perennial herb that will tolerate a variety of conditions but prefers cool, moist partial shade. There are several varieties that grow 10-48 centimeters (4'' to 4ft), spread by runners, is controllably invasive and is loved by bees. Our bees love it and it is a good source of nectar.  In our area of the world most everyone grows mint but nobody planted it.


    Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a member of the Mint Family and native to warm-temperate western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region.  This is a hardy plant that grows in hardiness zone 5-10 but in the colder regions prefers some winter protection (primarily wind).  They prefer full sun, lean well drained soil and grow to a height of 3 ft (1 mt).  The flowers, like that of all member of the mint family are very attractive to bees and come in white, pink or purple.  The most popular variety is Greek Oregano (O. heracleoticum).  You can pinch the flowers to keep the plant bushy and divide the plant or the stems become too woody.


     The Peony or Paeony is a genus of flowering plants native to Asia, Southern Europe and Western North America.  The large, often fragrant flowers come in colours red, white and yellow and bloom in late spring to early summer.  This beautiful flowering plant likes full sun, grows in hardiness zones 3-8, grows to a height of .5-1.5 metres (1.5-5 ft) and can be propagated by root division.  Tree peonies can be propagated by grafting, division, seed and cuttings.  I have never seen more bees on a single flower (yellow pollen-bearing stamens) as on peonies.  There appears to be a feeding frenzy of both native and honey bees on each flower.  There are over 1800 varieties of peony but for bee attraction I would stick with the single flower.  Complex petal formation as found in double peonies and hybrid roses are not attractive to foraging insects (difficult navigation).


        There is a wide variety of annual and perenial plants in the phlox genus ranging from tall bushes to short ground cover plants.  The phlox in our garden, phlox paniculata is a volunteer that has spread along the berm providing a nice colourful border plant.  Native to North America it will grow in part shade to full sun, grows 90-180 cm (3-6 ft) high, blooms from spring to summer and it's fragrant flowers attract butterflies, hummingbirds and bees.


                                      Plum Tree

     There are literally hundreds of varieties of plums (Prunus Domestica) available to grow including dwarf varieties.  In our garden we have two Greengage trees and a Santa Rosa tree (I think).  Plums like rich, moist well drained loam or clay loam with full sun and can be grown to hardiness zone 4.  Their fragrant spring blossoms are a favourite of bees and because of the sheer number of blossoms this is a primary spring pollen source.


        Poppies(Papaveraceae)are native to North America, Europe and Asia and come in a wide range of colours.  They grow 30-60 cm (12-24 inches) high, prefer partial to full sun, well drained slightly dry soil and will self seed.  There are annual and perennial varieties that should be divided every 5 years to keep vigorous.  They are hardy to zone 2 if protected in winter with straw or consistent snow cover.  


     The raspberry (Rubus) or hindberry comes in a variety of colours and  blossom times.  The plant likes full sun, acidic soil and can be grown in hardiness zones 3-9.  Raspberries self propogate using basal shoots (suckers).  In our garden we have 3 or 4 varieties including an orange variety and a double or ever bearing which will produce in early summer and again in the fall.  This plant is a major food source for our bees from May to June.


      There are over 28,000 cultivars of Rhododendron including the subgenera of azalea.  The shrub usually grows in height from 2-20 ft (.7-6 metres) and can be pruned to grow as a tree.  This plant is known for it's beautiful, large showy flowers in spring to early summer that attract most of the pollinators.  The Rhododendron likes acidic soil, will tolerate shade and is the national flower of Nepal.

                                    Rose (Wild)

      There are a wide variety of wild, native roses that grow throughout the world with a wide range of colours.  Most are perennial shrubs and produce single, fragrant flowers with accessible stamens.  The key to providing good "Bee Plants" is easily accessible pollen and nectar.  I have a beautiful, fragrant yellow hybrid rose which is never visited by the pollinators because the petal structure complexity makes access to the inner stamen difficult.  In our garden the most prolific native rose is the Nootka (Rosa Nutkana) which grows in coastal areas from Alaska to California.  This perennial shrub will usually grow in thickets to 3 metres (10 ft) providing habitat and food for birds and small wildlife including bees.  This plant needs sun but will tolerate shade and blooms in late spring to early summer.


      The Rudbekia, commonly referred to as coneflower or black-eyed susan is native to North America with varieties growing from .5 to 3 metres (2-10 ft) tall.  The common commercially grown Rudbekia grows 3-4 ft (90-120 cm) in height, likes full sun, slightly acidic soil, is drought tolerant and can be grown in hardiness zones 4-10.  The bloom time is late summer to early fall and the flowers attract bees, butterflies and birds.


                                                               Russian Vine

     Russian Vine (Fallopia baldschuanica) also know as mile-a-minute vine flowers for us in Rose-Marie's garden in September and is very popular with the bees but not so with some gardeners.  It is a relative of Japanese Knotweed and both are easy to grow and hard to kill.  They can grow 4 mts (13 ft) a year and are grown to hide eyesores like buildings or walls.  Although it is controllable by heavy pruning each year it will send out underground runners (roots) so plant with caution.  The benefit to bees is the mass of late season flowers. 


      Sedum is a large genus of low growing flowering plants commonly referred to as Stonecrops.  Found throughout North America the succulents have water-storing leaves that make them drought tolerant.  There is a wide variety of sedum with many different colours of flowers that will grow in hardiness zones 4-10.  Generally a low growing ground cover it prefers full sun and good drainage but will tolerate partial shade.



      The Shoo-fly plant (Nicandra physalodes) is foraged on by bees but is not a major contributing food source.  I included this plant simply because of it's uniqueness.  Native to South America it is sometimes referred to as the Apple of Peru.  Though not edible it is a member of the potato or Solanaceae family.  It flowers through the summer however it's flowers are short lived.  The Shoo-fly plant prefers part to full sun, is an annual that self seeds and in some areas is invasive (has become naturalized).  Check your specific location to be sure you are not planting a potentially invasive plant.


     The Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) is an annual plant native to the Americas.  Known for it's large flowering head it's head actually consists of many (hundreds) small flowers or florets which mature into seeds.  They can be grown in hardiness zones 3-10, like a full sun, moist, well drained, fertile soil and usually bloom in late summer to early fall.  This plant is drought tolerant, grows to heights between 1.5-3.5 metres (5-12 ft) and is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.


      There are about 400 species of Willow growing in the cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The popular species here is the Weeping Willow tree. They prefer a slightly acidic soil, grow fast in hardiness zone 4-10 and are easy to propagate by stem cuttings. We also have a few Corkscrew Willow trees. Our Willows flower from March to April, are a good source of nectar , have a very nutritious pollen and are loved by bees.

Pollen Sources

     A good mix of nutritionally adequate pollens are needed for the production of strong, healthy, "fat" (stored nutrient reserves) bees.  Not all pollens are nutritious for honey bees.
Nutritious - Pollens from most deciduous fruit trees, lupine (in Australia), almond, clovers, pear, some gum (Eucalyptus) trees, buttercups (some are toxic to bees), Crocus, willows, wild radish, prune, apple , mustard, rape (canola), and poppies are supposed to be good.
Less nutritious - Elm, cottonwood, ash, pussy willow, dandelion, sweet corn, alfalfa (actually alfalfa pollen is nutritional, but honey bees don't like it).
Least nutritious - Air-borne pollens such as alder, hazel nut, ash, birch, poplar, field corn. Sunflower, eastern buckwheat, fireweed, blueberry, and weeping willow are not adequate nutrient sources.
Especially poor - Pine, spruce, fir, and cedars.


[edit]Trees and shrubs - Spring

Common name Latin name Blooming months Pollen color Availability Source for honeybees
Maple Acer spp. Feb - Apr light yellow feral fair
Manitoba Maple(Box elder) Acer negundo Feb - Apr light olive feral good
Norway maple Acer platanoides Apr - May yellow green, olive feral fair
Red Maple Acer rubrum Mar - Apr grey brown feral
Grey Alder Alnus incana Feb - Apr brownish yellow feral
American Chestnut Castanea dentata May - Jun mostly ornamental
Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa May feral good
Common Hackberry Celtis occidentalis Apr - May feral
Flowering Quince Chaenomeles japonicaChaenomeles lagenariaChaenomeles speciosa 'Nivalis'Chaenomeles x superba Apr - May feral good
American Hazel Corylus americana Mar - Apr light green feral and ornamental fair/good
Hawthorn Crataegus spp. Apr - May yellow brown feral fair
White Ash Fraxinus americana Apr - May
Honey Locust Gleditsia triancanthos May - Jun feral
American holly Ilex opaca Apr - Jun feral
Walnut Juglans spp. Apr - May cultivated fair
Tulip-tree Lirodendron tulipifera May - Jun cream feral and ornamental good
Crab Apple Malus spp. Mar - Jun light olive ornamental
Apple Malus domestica, Malus sylvestris Apr - May yellow white cultivated and ornamental very good
American Sycamore Platanus occidentalis Apr - May light olive feral
Plum Prunus spp. Apr - May light grey, grey ornamental and cultivated
Almond Prunus amygdalus Feb light brown to brown pollen - not considered a good pollen source but bees are the primary pollinator cultivated mostly in California fair
Wild Cherry Prunus avium Apr - May yellow brown, light brown feral very good
Cherry Plum Prunus cerasifera light brown to brown feral fair
Sour Cherry Prunus cerasus Apr - May dark yellow ornamental and cultivated very good
Peach Prunus persica Apr - May reddish yellow ornamental and cultivated good
Black Cherry Prunus serotina Apr - May feral minor
Blackthorn Prunus spinosa feral good
Pear Pyrus communis Apr - May red yellow ornamental and cultivated good
Oak Quercus spp. May feral
Oak Quercus roburQuercus pedunculata May light olive feral minor
Black Locust Robinia pseudoacacia May - Jun feral
Blackberry Rubus spp. May - Jun light grey feral and cultivated
Raspberry Rubus idaeus May - Jun white grey feral and cultivated good
Willow Salix spp. Feb - Apr lemon feral good
White Willow Salix alba feral good
Goat Willow Salix caprea Mar - Apr feral very good
Violet Willow Salix daphnoides Mar - Apr feral very good
Pussy Willow Salix discolor Mar - Apr feral and ornamental
Basket Willow Salix purpurea Mar - Apr feral very good
Silky leaf osier, Smith's Willow Salix x smithiana Apr - May very good
American mountain ash Sorbus americana May-Jun feral
American Elm Ulmus americana Feb - Apr light grey feral
Winged Elm Ulmus alata Feb - Mar pale yellow feral good
Europea field elm Ulmus americana feral good

Flowers and annual crop plants - Spring

Common name Latin name Blooming months Pollen color Availability Source for honeybees
Ajuga (Bronze Bugle, Common Bugle) Ajuga reptans mid spring
Chives Allium schoenoprasum May - Sep cultivated?
Asparagus Asparagus officinalis May - Jun bright orange cultivated
Mustard Brassica arvenisi Apr - May lemon cultivated and feral
Canola Brassica napus May - Jun lemon extensively cultivated very good
Yellow Crocus Crocus vernus (syn. Crocus aureus) April orange yellow feral and ornamental fair
Leopard's Bane Doronicum cordatum Apr - May
Winter aconite Eranthis hyemalis Mar - Apr yellow feral and ornamental good
Snowdrop Galanthus nivalis Mar - Apr orange, red fair
Henbit Lamium amplexicaule April orange red, red, purplish red Apr - Jul poor
White Sweet Clover Melilotus alba May - Aug yellow to dark yellow feral and cultivated good
Yellow Sweet Clover Melilotus officinalis May - Aug yellow to dark yellow feral and cultivated
Sainfoin Onobrychis viciifolia May - Jul yellow brown very good
Siberian squill Scilla sibirica Mar - Apr steel blue feral and ornamental good
White mustard Sinapis alba June lemon feral and cultivated good
Chick weed Stellaria media Apr - Jul yellowish feral minor
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale Apr - May red yellow, orange feral very good


[edit]Trees and shrubs - Summer

Common name Latin name Blooming months Pollen color Availability Source for honeybees
Red Horse chestnut Aesculus carnea raisin [3] feral
Horse chestnut Aesculus hippocastanum May - Jun after 80-110 growing degree days. anatolia [3] feral good
Southern Catalpa Catalpa bignonioides Jun - Jul ornamental fair
Northern Catalpa Catalpa speciosa Jun - Jul ornamental
Bluebeard Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue' Aug - Sep very good
Virginia creeper Parthenocissus quinquefolia Jul - Aug good
Boston Ivy 'Veitchii' Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Veitchii' Jun - Jul good
Sumac Rhus glabra Jun - Jul
Elder Sambucus canadensis Jun - Jul canary yellow [3]
Basswood or American Linden Tilia americana Jun - Jul yellow to light orange feral and ornamental
Little Leaf Linden Tilia cordata citrine [3] feral
Blueberry VaccĂ­nium myrtĂ­llus Jun red yellow, orange cultivated poor

[edit]Flowers and annual crop plants - Summer

Common name Latin name Blooming months Pollen color Availability Source for honeybees
Allium Allium spp. feral and cultivated
Onion Allium cepa light olive cultivated
Chives Allium schoenoprasum May - Sep feral and cultivated
Garlic chives Allium tuberosa Aug - Sep feral and cultivated
Leadwort syn. Indigobush Amorpha fruticosa Jun - Jul ornamental?
Aster Aster spp. Sep-Frost reddish yellow feral and ornamental
Land-in-blue, Bushy Aster Aster x dumosus Aug - Sep bronze yellow [3] feral
Borage Borago officinalis Jun - Frost blueish grey ornamental
Marigold Calendula officinalis Jun - Sep orange
Heather sp. Calluna vulgaris Jul - Aug yellow white, white good
Hemp Cannabis sativa Aug yellow green good source
Blue Thistle Carduus spp.
Star thistle Centaurea spp. Jul - Sep
Persian centaurea Centaurea dealbata hemp [3]
Knapweed Centaurea macrocephala Jul - Aug good
Knapweed Centaurea nigra very light olive
Chicory Cichorium intybus L. white
Cotoneaster Cotoneaster spp. good
Cucumber Cucumis spp. pale yellow cultivated
Melons Cucumis melo Jun-Frost pale yellow cultivated
Pumpkin Cucurbita pepo Jun-Frost bright yellow cultivated
Fireweed Epilobium angustifolium Jul - Aug blue feral
Joe-Pye weed, Bluestem Eutrochium spp.; Eupatorium purpureum Aug - Sep bistre green
Buckwheat Fagopyrum esculentum Jul - Aug light yellow to light green cultivated good source
Blue vine Gonolobus laevis syn. Cynanchum laeve
Sunflower Helianthus annuus Jun - Sep golden feral and cultivated
Jewelweed Impatients capensis yellowish white
Alyssum Lobularia maritima Jun - Sep
Lupin Lupinus sp. Jun - Jul white, yellow or blue minor
Mallow Malva alcea Jun - Sep
Alfalfa Medicago sativa July - Aug khaki [3] feral and cultivated
Clover Melilotus spp. and Trifolium spp. May - Aug feral and cultivated
White Sweet Clover Melilotus alba auburn [3] feral and cultivated
Yellow Sweet Clover Melilotus officinalis auburn [3] feral and cultivated
Basil Ocimum basilicum ornamental
Poppy Papaver orientale May - Jul blueish grey ornamental only good source[4]
Poppy Papaver somniverum May - Jun grey feral and ornamental very good source
Phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia Jun - Sep navy blue feral and cultivated good source
Smartweed Polygonum spp. Aug - Sep
Common Chickweed Stellaria media Apr - Jul minor source
Germander Teucrium chamaedrys Jul - Aug
Alsike Clover Trifolium hybridum yellow brown good source
Crimson Clover Trifolium incarnatum dark brown
White Clover Trifolium repens Jun - Jul caledonian brown good source
Cat-tail Typha latifolia Jun - Jul
Common vetch[verification needed] Vicia cracca Jul - Aug
Spring Vetch[verification needed] Vicia sativa Jul - Aug
Sweet Corn Zea mays Jun - Jul yellowish white cultivated


[edit]Trees and shrubs - Fall

Common name Latin name Blooming months Pollen color Availability Source for honeybees
Chinese Elm, Lacebark Elm Ulmus parvifolia Aug - Sep ornamental good

[edit]Flowers and annual crop plants - Fall

Common name Latin name Blooming months Pollen color Availability Source for honeybees
Aster Aster spp. Sep-Frost reddish yellow
Borage Borago officinalis Jun - Frost
Melons Cucumis melo Jun-Frost cultivated
Sweet autumn clematis Clematis ternifolia late Sept white ornamental
Pumpkin Cucurbita pepo Jun-Frost bright yellow cultivated
Ivy Hedera spp. Sep - Oct dull yellow or black? feral and ornamental
Goldenrod Solidago spp. Sep - Oct golden feral

Source: Wikipedia


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