Plant Lavender. Save the Bees!

Albert Einstein said, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.” I don’t know what he claimed is true or not. I’m not sure there’s a way to know before it’s too late, but I for one, don’t want to test his theory.

Ever since we had honeybees in our side yard/dog run I’ve been more aware of their plight and how bees are connected with our survival on this planet. Bees pollinate most of the crops that feed the majority of the world’s population. No bees. No food. Pretty simple.

With their habitats shrinking and pesticides doing damage, I’m working on creating a more bee friendly space in my yard. Don’t have a huge plot of land for a bee garden? No worries. Even space as small as a window garden will help make for a bee friendlier world.

Here’s what I’ve learned in my research:

  • Choose single flower plants such as daisies or marigolds. These plants produce more nectar than plants with double headed flowers. It’s also harder for bees to access these flowers to get the pollen.
  • Avoid hybridized plants as they produce little pollen.
  • Provide a constant food source for bees by planting at least three different kinds flowers for each season.
  • Help bees create nesting spaces. This requires different action depending on the bees you have. For example, burrowing bees need a sunny spot uncultivated in a garden. Other bees need branches, bamboo sections, or hollow reeds for nesting.
  • Avoid using pesticides and herbicides. Ladybugs, spiders and praying mantises are nature’s pest control. When I had aphids I discovered many nurseries sell bags of ladybugs to add to a garden.

Provide a watering hole for bees. Fill a shallow container with water and add twigs or pebbles for bee landing places. If you do this, make sure to continually refill the water so the bees know they can return to this spot every day.

  • Create a “bee hotel.” The website Discover Wildlife says tying together bamboo canes or drilling 5–10mm holes a block of wood and hanging it I’m a sunny, south facing spot will do the trick. I’ve found examples/how to’s on Pinterest. Click here to check out my Bee Friendly Garden board.
  • Add Fruit trees to your landscaping.
  • Plant bee friendly plants in large mass plantings if possible. This lets bees arrive and “tank up” before moving on. Mass planting are also easier for bees to find.

Now that we know what to do and not do, let’s talk plants. Here are some plants I found listed as bee friendly. Remember to have different type, so hopefully you’ll have something flowering all the time.

  • Herbs: Mint, rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme, salvia
  • Annuals: Marigolds, aster, poppy, sunflowers, sweet alyssum, zinnia
  • Perennials: Crocus, Geraniums, hollyhock, allium
  • Others: Bergamot, lantana, borage, butterfly busy, black-eyed Susan, yarrow, Roman Chamomile, milkweed, forget-me-not, pansies, sweet peas
  • Lavender and borage flower for a long time, making them super for bees.
  • Blue and yellow flowering plants are extra great for bees. From what I discovered, it has to do with what colors they see best.
  • Choose plants with easy access center. This usually means “old-fashioned” versions rather than hybrids.

I’m a big believer that small changes can make a big difference, especially if we all do our part. So, I’m off to my local nursery to go shopping for a few plants. 

One lucky person who leaves a comment will receive the Lookin’ Sharp wine glass and signed copy of A Cure For the Vet.

 

Julie Benson
Julie Benson has written five novels for Harlequin American, and her Wishing, Texas series is available from Tule Publishing. Now that her three sons have left the nest in Dallas, when she isn't writing, Julie spends her time working on home improvement projects, rescuing dogs, and visiting Texas wineries with her husband. Visit her at www.juliebenson.net.
Updated: July 30, 2019 — 3:59 pm

45 Comments

  1. We have been concerned about the damage the bee population has suffered over the past years and continues to suffer. Normally I have a pretty full flower garden, but this year a long vacation from May to July kept me from getting one in. Instead I have a wildlife habitat with weeds taller than I am. I will be digging it out and hopefully get some flowers in for the rest of the year. We have tried butterfly bushes several times, but the winds here are strong. Every one we have planted has broken off when it gets to any size.
    Our son’s new wife’s family is into bees. We returned home to find two bee hives in our front yard. We have thought of getting some before but haven’t because of bears in the area. Once we get our vegetable garden weeded, we will move the hives inside that fenced in area. Not sure if that will help without a heavy duty electric fence.
    Thank you for the tips on helping bees. I will be adding some of them to what we already do.

    1. Patricia,
      I got my garden in late this year as well, and it hasn’t done well either. My squash and zucchini died on me twice. My tomato plant has flowered but no signs if tomatoes. 🙁

      I’ve wanted ti try having a hive, but don’t know if I’m ready for that yet. (I wish now I hadn’t called someone to move the honeybees last summer, but I was worried my dogs would bother them and get stung.)

      Please keep me posted on your hives.My email is julie@juliebenson.net. If having bee hives works for you and you can give me tips, I may be brave enough to try it.

      1. I haven’t had a chance to talk with our son and his wife since we got back a little over a week ago. I gather one of the hives collapsed. The other is OK for the moment. I am looking forward to finding out more about them. I will keep you posted.

  2. Love the post..especially the great tips! Thank you!

    1. Melanie,
      I’m glad you liked the post and found it helpful. I believe if we all make little changes, we can make a big difference! Thanks for stopping by today.

  3. I’m all about planting flowers for the bees. I love in Western NC and I don’t see bees like I used to.

    1. I know. It’s so sad. I’m at least glad the issue is being talked about. If we’re not aware there’s a problem, we can’t address it. I think the main thing we have to do is stop using pesticides. Not only would that be better for bees, I think it would be better humans as well.

  4. Good morning- I love this blog. I work for the KDHE (Kansas Dept. Of Health & Environment) and so I’m very concerned about our environment. Bees are so important for our sustainability, they are the heartbeat of our lives. If not for the bee, I do believe we would be in a world of hurt.
    Thanks for the tips on the type of flowers to plant. Happy August to you, it’s just a day away.

    1. Tonya,

      I worry about our environment, too. Some scientists say we’re as little as ten years from the point of no return. We have got to make changes now. I for one, don’t want to count on Mars being an option. I like Earth and would like to leave a healthier planet to future generations! Thanks for the work you do and for stopping by today.

  5. Love the blog and information. I love seeing the bees on my flowers. Not as many, but with your information I know what I can try now.

    1. Kristi, If you’re seeing bees on your flowers, you’re doing something right! I’ve also changed my views on wasps and other stinging insects. When I was gathering information to write this blog, I realized honeybees aren’t the only pollinators. Other stinging guys and butterflies work hard as well. I have mud nests with some kind of wasps in my patio. In the past, I would’ve taken those down. This year I’ve let them be. As Maya Angelou said, “When we know better, we do better.” Thanks for your comment.

  6. Thank you for the information. I have never tried to grow flowers, because I tend to kill all plants. But this might be the encouragement I need to try again.

    1. Janine,

      Maybe you’re like me. I kill any plant I bring inside, but if I put them outside, they thrive. I don’t know what I do to them inside, but it’s the kiss of death. I’ve also had to change what plants I have on my patio. The dogs either dig them up or chew on them. I’ve gone to having spikey cactus on the patio instead. So far the two I’ve got are doing well. One is even a flowering one. I.m hoping to get a few more flowering varieties. Be brave, Janine. Try planting some flowers outside. Good luck and thanks for stopping by today.

  7. Great tips on plants. I don’t usually put out a lot of flowers here because I don’t have much luck with them.

    1. Like I told Janine, I can’t grow plants inside, but I do well with planting them outside. While the articles didn’t mention them, I think flowering shrubs would be a great way to help bees. I live in Texas and my favorite shrub is a Texas sage. You could try planting flowering shrubs that grow well in your area. Also, many herbs flower. I have a large patch of thyme that acts as ground cover that frequently flowers. And thyme was even on the bee list! I didn’t know that when I planted it. Thankfully, there are options other than flowers that can help bees. Try your hand at flowering shrubs and herbs.

  8. love watching the bees in my flower garden. For years my husband had a bee hive.Had to give it up when he got too ill to take care of it. Sure miss the honey.

    1. Estella,

      I want to have a hive. That is the next thing I need to research. I was amazed how much pollen and how much of a bee’s life it takes to make a small amount of honey. I’ve also heard eating local honey can help with allergies. We’re also learning so much about the healing properties of honey.

      Thank you for stopping by to comment.

  9. I already have a small bag of lavender seeds for next year.

    1. Minna,

      I love lavender but haven’t had much luck growing it, even outside. I love all the things like soap that people make from lavender. I wish you good luck with your lavender next spring.

  10. I plant my flower garden with bees in mind. Zinnias, speedwell, bee balm, liatris, daisies, and others bring welcome to both bees and butterflies! Thank you for reminding us all to BEE friendly to our wonderful bees.

    1. Interesting. Thank you for the information. Will look into planting more flowers next spring.

      1. Marina,

        I’m glad you found the information helpful! Thank you for stopping by today.

        1. It was very interesting. I will be planting more flowers next year.

    2. Kathy,

      Your garden sounds beautiful! You mention some plants I need to see about adding…bee balm and speedwell. Thank you for sharing your tips!

  11. I have quite a few plants that are butterfly and bee friendly. Since I’m allergic to stings, I have to be careful what things I do plant.

    1. Trudy,

      Yikes on you being allergic. I’m sure that makes it more difficult.I wouldn’t plant the ones that attract bees anywhere you spend a lot of time. Attracting butterflies helps the planet just as much. They are great pollinators too!

  12. Avatar

    Great blog! I need to do some planting! I love lavender too! I’ll have to plant away from my normal planting area though. I had a traumatic bee encounter as a child so I’m afraid of bees. In my old age ? I’m not as bad as when I was younger. I don’t think the average person takes into account what we are doing our environment that is detrimental to the future of mankind.

    1. Stephanie,

      Great idea not planting bee friendly plants near where you spend time if you’re worried about getting stung. What you can do in those areas you frequent is concentrate on butterfly friendly plants like Trudy does. Butterflies are great pollinators too.

  13. Thanks for this fascinating and informative post which is important. Yes, bees contribute a great deal.

    1. Ruth,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for stopping by today.

  14. Yes, a great fount of knowledge to learn about. Bees are necessary and important.

    1. Sharon,

      Isn’t amazing how much impact something so small has on our planet?

  15. Sorry to be late responding this morning. I had surgery on my index finger yesterday and it’s slowed me down some.

  16. Welcome. This is a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing. I have a garden with plants that are for butterflies and bees and hummingbirds. But I will have to do some of the other things too.

    1. Lori,

      Hummingbirds are great! Sounds like you have a wonderful garden that’s doing exactly what a good garden should. Keep it up, girl! I wish my garden was doing as well as yours!

  17. Great post. We have bees hanging out in our back yard fish pond. Except for irritating the turtles a bit, we don’t bother then and they don’t bother us.

    1. Sally,

      Your backyard sounds wonderful and relaxing with the fish pond and turtles. Why wouldn’t bees want to hang out there? Thanks for stopping by today.

  18. The soaker hoses in my vegetable garden are water fountains for several different kinds of bees. I often see them in the middle of the day sitting on the hoses. A few years ago our neighbors had an apiary providing bees to pollinate their squash fields. Since the center pivot irrigation system was not running all the time the bees decided our sheep water tank was the place to drink. All went well until the day I forgot to check the fence beside the tank before I laid my arm on it. It was the worst bee sting I ever had. I did learn that summer that honeybees are not aggressive, most of the time.

    1. Alice,

      I never thought of using a soaker hose for bees. What a great idea. I could water the bees and the garden at the same time! Thanks for sharing the tip and your warning about watching where we place our hands/arms when we attract bees!

  19. Julie, thank you for this informative post! My maternal grandfather kept bees. I’ve also been told that my Daddy could handle bees without using a smoker. The bees never bothered him.

  20. Caryl,

    The men in your family were ahead of their time! They were working to save bees before anyone knew how important they are to our survival. Thanks for stopping by today.

  21. Avatar

    I love bees and I have all kinds of flowers in my garden. I have blueberry bushes and lilacs. I do not have bee hives but my brother does. I love the blog. I also have hanging plants with flowers in them. I notice the bees love them the most. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Charlene,

      Thank you for stopping by. It’s interesting the bees like the hanging plants the most. I wonder why?

  22. I love to plant flowers , so there are always flowers blooming so we get plenty of bees and hummingbirds . We have a very big fig bush also , rose bushes, honeysuckle , marigolds. God created everything and everyone for a reason, so we must take care of God’s Creation. Thank you so much for this post, I enjoyed reading it , Thank you for sharing one of the gifts God Blessed you with , with us. God Bless you.

  23. My dad has an apiary.

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