Thursday, May 22, 2014

Saving Bees with a Bee Feeding Guild

A honeybee on an ornamental crabapple.

When the subject of bees comes up with my friends many of them are worried. Often they talk about becoming beekeepers as a way to help. While I try not to discourage beekeeping in general, in these cases I encourage them to think of other ways to help the bees first. I always recommend that they cut back on or quit using pesticides, ask them to read books about bees and beekeeping, and I ask them to grow more plants for bees.

While any plant with a flower is an improvement, not all of them are great for helping the bees. This is a list I put together to provide lots of bee food on a quarter acre lot. I focused very heavily on late summer blooms because that is when the bees in my area struggle the most to find food. I highlighted those plants, so if you are limited on space you can focus on those first.

This is only one set of plants I could have used, so feel free to study and come up with your own bee guild (community) that meets the needs of where you live. And remember to plant in groups so that clusters of the same plants are at lease three feet across. The bees will find them easier that way.

Oh, this plan leaves enough space for a veggie garden and some grass. The clover is on the list to make the grass more bee friendly!

Enjoy yourselves, manana!

Common Name Scientific Name Start of flowering  End of flowering Width
Bigtooth Maple Acer gandidentatum April May  25'
Peach Prunus persica April April 18'
Apple Malus domestica April May 25'
Black Locust Robinia pseudoacacia May June 30'
Linden 'Green Spire' Tilia cordata June July 30'
Shubs and Perennials
Fragrant Sumac 'Lowgrow' Rhus aromatica April May 6'
Dandelion Taraxacum officinale April May 6"
Blackberry Rubus spp. May June As pruned
Chives Allium schoenoprasum May June 10"
Woodland Sage Salvia nemorosa May July 18"
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia June July 3'
Red-Flowering Thyme Thymus praecox June July Creeping
Catmint Nepeta x faassenii June August 18"
Melissa, Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis June August 18"
Fireweed Epilobium angustifolium June September 3'
Oregano Origanum vulgare June September 2'
Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea June September 2'
Milkweed Asclepias spp.  July August 2.5'
Peppermint Mentha piperita July August 3'
Russian Sage Perovskia atriplicifolia July September 4'
Bluebeard Caryopteris x clandonensis July September 4'
Blanket Flower Gaillardia aristata June October 10"
Anise hyssop Agstache foeniculum July October 3'
Garlic chives Allium tuberosa September September 12"
Stonecrop Sedum spectabile September September 12"
Aster Aster spp. September October 2'
Goldenrod Solidago spp. September October 4'
Lawn Addition
Dutch White Clover Trifolium repens May August Creeping


  1. Why not Borage (Borago officinalis)? My bees love it.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Borage is good stuff, but I was focusing mostly on perennials. I also wanted to narrow the list down so that it wasn't overwhelming.