Even if you don’t want to get a hive this year, you can still help the bees by planting flowers that they like.
It’s easy to tell for yourself which flowers will attract bees. There are three things to look for if you’re trying to woo a bee.
Look for Honey Spots
Do you see the little dots in the interior of the foxglove flower pictured above, on the left? Those are called “honey spots,” and for good reason. They act as a landing guide for bees. Now that you’re aware of what they are, you’ll start noticing them on all sorts of flowers. The mahogany colored ring around the center of the coreopsis on the top right is also a type of honey spot. It acts as a giant bull’s eye for the bee, telling it right where to go.
Go for the Blue and Yellow
No, bees aren’t University of Michigan fans. They just seem to be particularly attracted to blue and yellow flowers. Of course, bees do go to other colors of flowers, but just as hummingbirds really like red flowers, bees really like yellow and blue flowers.
Find the Landing Pad
Flowers that have evolved with bees have somewhere for bees to land. Teeny tiny flowers that are not in a cluster of other teeny-tiny flowers are either pollinated by some method other than bees, or have been hybridized by people and are not suitable for bees anymore. Same thing with long, tubular, extremely narrow flowers. Not suitable for bees.
Bees and flowers have a symbiotic relationship, so bees want to go to the flowers that want bees. And flowers that want bees put out a welcome mat in the form of a landing pad. In fact, members of the pea family have their flower petals ever so slightly glued together, creating the perfect place for bees to land. And when they do, the petals separate, dabbing the bee’s tummy with pollen. Then, when the bee lands on a female pea flower, the pollen receptor (stigma) is in the exact right place to brush against the part of the bee’s tummy with the pollen on it!