Grow These 50 Pollen-Rich Plants To Help Your Local Honeybees

Even if you can’t keep a hive of bees yourself, you can still plant your garden with them in mind.

March 27, 2017
bee on butterfly weed

It’s no secret honeybee populations are hurting. Colony collapse disorder, which occurs when the majority of worker bees in a hive disappear, abandoning the queen, baby bees, nurse bees, and food, is decimating hives at an astounding rate. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, 42 percent of colonies collapsed in the United States in 2015. And a shortage of honeybees can have a very real impact on our food supply. Farmers who grow crops from strawberries to squash to almonds rely on hives of traveling honeybees to pollinate their fields. No bees means no food.

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Colony collapse disorder is the result of a combination of factors, including widespread use of pesticides, loss of habitat, climate change, and disease. Any one of these things would be tough on bees, but together they’re crippling. 

So what can you do about it? Aside from taking the plunge into organic beekeeping yourself and committing to buying pesticide-free organic food, you can start by creating a bee-friendly habitat in your yard. In addition to not using Roundup, one of the easiest steps you can take is to grow more plants that honeybees like to feast on for nectar and pollen. Here are the flowers, shrubs, trees, herbs, and—yes—weeds that will give honeybees (and native pollinators!) a helping hand.

bee on grape hyacinth flower
Spring And Summer Bulbs

Purple flowering onions (Allium spp.)
Golden crocus (Crocus x luteus)
Bishop Series dahlias (Dahlia)
Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)
Grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)
Siberian squill (Scilla sibirica)

Related: 10 Unusual Spring Flowers You Need To Grow This Year

bees flying to sunflower
Cavaillon Lucie / EyeEm/getty

Cosmos (Cosmos spp.)
California poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens)
Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)
Breadseed poppy (Papaver somniferum)
Portulaca (Portulaca spp.)
Blue anise sage (Salvia guaranitica)
Profusion and common zinnias (Zinnia spp.)

Related: 13 Annual Flowers You Can Easily Grow From Seeds

bee on butterfly weed
Perennials And Biennials

Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Lesser calamint (Calamintha nepeta)
Cornflowers (Centaurea spp.)
Gas plant (Dictamnus albus)
Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Globe thistles (Echinops spp.)
Fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium)
Blanketflowers (Gaillardia spp.)
Cranesbills (Geranium spp.)
Fall sedums (Hylotelephiumtelephium)
Knautia (Knautia macedonica)
Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica)
Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
Meadow sage (Salvia nemorosa)
Showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)
Fall asters (Symphyotricum spp.)

Related: Flowers That Promise To Bring Monarch Butterflies To Your Yard

bee gathering pollen from heather flowers

Heather (Calluna vulgaris)
Blue mist bush (Caryopteris x clandonensis)
Summersweet (Clethra alnifolia)
Winter heath (Erica carnea)
Lavenders (Lavandula spp.)
Sumacs (Rhus spp.)
Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

Related: 5 Things You're Doing Every Day That Are Hurting Honeybees

bee gathering pollen from redbud flowers

Maples (Acer spp.)
Alders (Alnus spp.)
Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Hazels (Corylus spp.)
Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Fruit trees, especially apple, plum, and cherry (Malus and Prunus spp.)
Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)
Black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
Willows (Salix spp.)
Basswood/linden (Tilia spp.)

Related: Why People Are Obsessed With Tree Blossoms


bee gathering pollen from clover

Viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare)
Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Clovers (Trifolium and Melilotus spp.)

Related: Why You Should Always Plant Flowers In Your Vegetable Patch