Bee-friendly gardening

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Bee-friendly gardening


Contents 1

Tips for a bee friendly garden 2

Useful Links: 3

List of Plants recommended by the RHS 3

Annuals 3

Biennials 3

Herbaceous perennials 3

Bulbs and corms 4

Vegetables and culinary herbs 4

Trees and shrubs 5

Wild flowers 6

BBKA list of flowering trees 7

Tips for a bee friendly garden

Choose a variety of bee-friendly plants that provide nectar and pollen for bees. Find alternatives to double flowers and to sterile hybrids.
Plant in drifts to enable bees to forage efficiently. You can attract bees to pollinate your fuit and veg crops by planting drifts of attractive flowers nearby.
Plant a succession of plants to flower throughout the year. Winter and early spring flowering shrubs and bulbs can help bees take advantage of warm weather spells at this time of year. When honey bees start laying eggs in Spring, they have a sudden need for food supplies and can die of starvation if they cannot access enough food. In the countryside, the first flowering plants are willow, hazel, and blackthorn. In gardens we have shrubs such as mahonia, osmanthus, cherry and early bulbs such as crocus, snow drops and winter aconite.
The ‘June gap’ is another potentially dangerous time for honey bees: by now they have built up large colonies and need a lot of food but there may be a flowering gap as Spring flowers finish and Summer is not yet in full flow. Useful plants are cotoneaster, salvia, scabious
Create a sheltered garden to help bees forage. (In addition, if you plan to keep honey bees in the garden then a high hedge, wall or fence is important to raise the bees’ flight path).
Provide water in the garden. It doesn’t have to be much – honey bees drink from shallow puddles
Provide habitats for wild bees. You can do this by leaving nooks and crannies in an ‘untidy area’ and by positioning bee nests
Plant a tree if you have room. There are a lot of flowers on one tree! If you don’t have much space consider training a small tree against a wall
Window boxes and containers. Some annual bedding plants such as pelargonium and begonias are no use to bees: they are very low in nectar and they tend to have complicated floral structures, which make it hard to reach their centres. However, beautiful containers can be made to attract bees throughout the seasons using bulbs, small flowering shrubs, herbs and long-flowering summer plants such as salvias, scaboius, lavender, nemesia
Avoid pesticides
Leave a patch of clover on the lawn

Clover is a rich source of food for bees providing the weather is warm enough for them to access it!

Weeds and wild plants Many weeds such as brambles and thistles are really useful to bees so let yourself off the hook if you can’t find time for weeding! However, although invasive non-native plants such as Himalayan balsam provide a terrific food source for bees, they are causing problems in the wild and should be removed if found.

Useful Links:

Oxford Beekeepers Association:

British Beekeepers’ Association:

Bumble bee Conservation Trust:

Royal Horticultural Society:

Amazing bee photographs:

List of Plants recommended by the RHS


Borage (Borago officinalis)

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)

Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

Candytuft (Iberis species)

China aster (Callistephus chinensis)

Clarkia (Clarkia species)

Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)

Forget-me-not (Myosotis species)

Gilia capitata

Godetia (Clarkia species)

Heliotrope (Heliotropium cultivars)

Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)

Mignonette (Reseda odorata)

Nemophila menziesii

Phacelia species

Poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii)

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Sweet sultan (Amberboa moschata)

Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)


French honeysuckle (Hedysarum coronarium)

Hollyhock - single flowered (Alcea rosea)

Honesty (Lunaria annua)

Wallflower (Erysimum species)

Herbaceous perennials

Agastache foeniculum

Alyssum species

Anchusa azurea

Arabis species

Aubrieta species

Bellflowers (Campanula species)

Catmints (Nepeta species)

Cranesbill (Geranium species)

Dahlia - single-flowered species and cultivars

Eryngium species

Fleabane (Erigeron species)

Geum species

Globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus)

Globe thistle (Echinops ritro)

Golden rod (Solidago species)

Gypsophila paniculata

Helenium species

Hellebores (Helleborus species)

Ice plant (Sedum spectabile)

Jacob's ladder (Polemonium caeruleum)

Japanese anemone (Anemone × hybrida)

Lambs' ears (Stachys byzantina)

Leopard's bane (Doronicum species)

Liatris spicata

Michaelmas daisies (Aster species)

Monarda punctata

Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale)

Persicaria amplexicaule

Rudbeckia species

Salvia x superba

Scabious (Scabiosa species)

Sea hollies (Eryngium species)

Sidalcea malviflora

Thrift (Armeria maritima)

Verbena bonariensis

Veronica longifolia

White horehound (Marrubium vulgare)

Bulbs and corms

Allium species

Autumn crocus (Colchicum species)

Crocus species

Fritillaries (Fritillaria species)

Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)

Grape hyacinth (Muscari species)

Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)

Siberian squill (Scilla siberica)

Snowdrops (Galanthus species)

Snowflakes (Leucojum and Acis species)

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Vegetables and culinary herbs


Brassicas left to flower

Broad bean

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)

Marjoram (Origanum species)

Marrow and other cucurbits

Mint (Mentha species)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Runner bean

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Thyme (Thymus species)

Trees and shrubs


Almond (Prunus dulcis)

Apple, including ornamental Malus

Barberry (Berberis species)


Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)

Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)

Box (Buxus sempervirens)

Brooms (Cytisus species)


Ceanothus species (spring-flowering types)

Cherry, including single-flowered ornamental types

Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)

Christmas box (Sarcococca species)

Clematis cirrhosa

Cotoneaster species

Currants, red, black, white and ornamental Ribes species

Daisy bush (Olearia species)

Daphne mezereum

Dogwood (Cornus alba)

Enkianthus campanulatus

Escallonia hybrids

False acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia)

Firethorn (Pyracantha cultivars)

Fuchsia species

Gaultheria shallon


Gorse (Ulex species)

Hawthorns (Crataegus species)

Hazel (Corylus avellana)

Heather (Calluna vulgaris)

Heathers (Erica species)

Hebe species

Holly (Ilex aquifolium)

Horse chestnuts (Aesculus species)

Hypericum species

Indian bean tree (Catalpa bignonioides)

Ivy (Hedera helix)

Japanese quince (Chaenomeles speciosa and C. x superba)

Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum)

Koelreuteria paniculata

Lavender (Lavandula species)

Lime (Tilia species) - note Tilia tomentosa ‘Petiolaris’ nectar is sometimes harmful to bumblebees


Lonicera × purpusii

Mahonia aquifolium

Maples (Acer species)

Mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia)

Orange ball buddleia (Buddleja globosa)


Pear and ornamental Pyrus species

Perovskia atriplicifolia


Potentilla fruticosa


Rock rose (Helianthemum species)

Rose - single-flowered species types (Rosa species)

Snowberry (Symphoricarpos species)

Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)

Sweet bay (Laurus nobilis)

Tetradium daniellii

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Weigela florida and hybrids

Willows, male forms, especially goat willow (Salix caprea)

Wild flowers

Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)

Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Burdock (Arctium lappa)

Charlock (Sinapis arvensis)

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Clovers (Trifolium species)

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Devil's bit scabious (Succisa pratensis)

Field scabious (Knautia arvensis)

Figworts (Scrophularia species)

Hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum)

Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)

Horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis comosa)

Knapweeds (Centaurea species)

Knotgrasses (Polygonum species)

Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)

Mallows (Malva species)

Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)

Meadow clary (Salvia pratensis)

Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

Poppies (Papaver species)

Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)

Red deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)

Rose bay willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium)

Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)

Thistles (Cirsium species)

Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)

Traveller's joy (Clematis vitalba)

Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)

Viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare)

White bryony (Bryonia dioica)

White melilot (Melilotus alba)

Yellow melilot (M. officinalis)

Yellow trefoil (Trifolium dubium)

BBKA list of flowering trees


Acacia dealbata

Prunus x subhirtella ‘Autumnalis’

Salix spp.


Alnus cordata

Alnus glutinosa

Alnus incana

Corylus avellana

Corylus maxima

Prunus cerasifera


Amelanchier lamarckii

Acer campestre

Acer negundo

Acer platanoides

Acer macrophyllum

Cercis siliquastrum

Cydonia oblonga

Malus spp.

Liquidambar styraciflua

Prunus avium


Sorbus x arnoldiana

Aesculus hippocastanum

Crateagus monogyna

Crataegus oxyacantha

Crataegus crus-galli

Mespilus germanica

Sorbus aucuparia

Sorbus intermedia

Ilex spp.


Sorbus aria

Tilia tomentosa

Robinia pseudoacacia

Robinia hispida

Liriodendron tulipifera

Tilia x europaea


Castanea sativa

Ailanthus altissima

Tilia platyphyllos

Tilia ‘Petiolaris’


Koelreuteria paniculata

Catalpa bignoniodes


Tetradium daniellii

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