8 Peren­ni­als that at­tract bees

Manitoba Gardener Magazine - - FRONT PAGE - By Heather Klein

Are you look­ing for ways to at­tract more bees to your gar­den this year? More and more we are learn­ing how im­por­tant these fuzzy lit­tle in­sects are to our eco-sys­tem. At least 30 per cent of the world’s crops and 90 per cent of wild plants rely on the cross-pol­li­na­tion ac­tiv­ity of bees and other pol­li­na­tors. There are about 25,000 species of bees in the world and they all con­trib­ute to pol­li­na­tion in some way.

The process of pol­li­na­tion in­volves the trans­fer of pollen from the male part of the plant (an­ther) to the fe­male part (stigma) of an­other. The stigma then pro­duces the seeds, nuts and fruits that we use for food. Bees ac­com­plish this lit­tle bit of magic when the pock­ets and hairs of their legs brush against the pollen which clings to them as the bee con­tin­ues on its search for more nec­tar. With­out bees to pol­li­nate plants, many would per­ish.

Bees are wild crea­tures that need a home; mak­ing your yard at­trac­tive to them will help them choose your gar­den. Bees need a break from the sun and heat so plant­ing ground cover is a great way to give them a place to hide out between feed­ing and fly­ing. A shal­low foun­tain will help them stay hy­drated – yes, bees need wa­ter, too – and avoid pes­ti­cides, as some of this deadly ma­te­rial will also kill the bees.

You will also want to have beeat­tract­ing plants that flower through the whole gar­den sea­son. We’ve come up with eight peren­ni­als that are beau­ti­ful to look at and loved by our friends, the bees.

Bee Balm ( Monarda sp.). With sev­eral species to choose from and colours rang­ing from deep reds to shades of pink, pur­ples and even white, bee balm will fit nicely into any gar­den scheme. They love the sun and will bloom pro­fusely through the sum­mer.

Pur­ple Cone­flower ( Eutrochium pur­purea). Flow­er­ing from mid­sum­mer to late fall, the pink-pur­ple flow­ers are guar­an­teed to at­tract bees to your gar­den. For an added bonus you can make a great cold and flu rem­edy from them as well.

Black-Eyed Su­san ( Rudbeckia hirta). This clas­sic rudbeckia is a big hit with the bees. Easy to grow, it will quickly es­tab­lish in a sunny spot.

Asters ( Sym­photrichum spp). The pur­ples, blues and pinks of the late­sum­mer aster is a de­light for bees and other pol­li­na­tors. With many won­der­ful va­ri­eties to choose from you will find one that suits any late­sum­mer gar­den.

Gold­en­rod ( Sol­idago spp). These late-sum­mer bloomers be­come a buzzing mass when open and are lauded as one of the best bee flow­ers. Gold­en­rod honey is ac­tu­ally a del­i­cacy, known to be darker than nor­mal honey and has a dis­tinc­tive bite.

Cat­mint ( Nepeta x faassenii). This bee-at­trac­tor has a lot go­ing for it. It is long-bloom­ing, heat tol­er­ant, re­sis­tant to pests and easy to grow. These are just a few of the perks it has to of­fer. By May, the plant fairly ex­plodes with soft laven­der flow­ers.

Snow­drops ( Galan­thus spp). Snow­drops of­ten start pop­ping up be­fore the last snow has even melted, giv­ing the bees an early op­por­tu­nity to fill up on their empty win­ter re­serves. They do well in par­tial shade which makes them a great choice to plant un­der trees.

Cro­cus ( Cro­cus spp). This is an­other early flow­er­ing plant that will pro­vide much-needed nour­ish­ment to bees. Bloom­ing in strik­ing blues, pur­ples and yel­lows, these lit­tle flow­ers have a won­der­ful ef­fect on the land­scape as well as pro­vid­ing for the bees.

Bee pol­li­nat­ing an Eastern pur­ple cone­flower.

Bee Balm.

Cat­mint.

Snow­drop.

Gold­en­rod.

Black-eyed Su­san.

Pink Mist aster.

Cro­cus.

Eastern pur­ple cone­flower.

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