Best garden plants for honey bees

Best garden plants for honey bees

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Best garden plants for honey bees

While most people don’t typically give much thought to the plants in their garden, it’s important to understand that they can have a direct impact on pollinator health. Because most pollinators are not native to North America, and in fact many are threatened and endangered, they require specific plants that thrive in specific climates. The conditions and needs of the plants in your garden will vary widely based on the zone where you live and what the weather is like at the time.

The following guidelines can help you choose plants for your garden that will not only support the bees, but will support you, too!

Zone USDA climate zones. Garden plants and honey bee plants can vary widely in their requirements for sun, shade, water, and soil type. If you don’t have a garden plan, you can find out what zone you live in based on the region of your zip code. To find the USDA Zones in your area, check out zone maps on the USDA website.

What to plant: You should choose plants that will thrive in your area, and for you and your bees to have a safe and enjoyable experience. The criteria below will help you determine what plants will work best in your garden. Be sure to visit the Pollinator Garden Network to get information on your local pollinator plant needs.

Sun or shade: Many native plants that provide food for honey bees are in the sun or are mostly shaded. Plants that provide food for honey bees are used by many plants for nectar, and vice versa. Be sure to check to see if your plants will receive any direct sun or shade from taller plants or trees that you might have around your garden.

Water needs: You may also want to look at what your garden needs for water. Water is vital to plants, especially bees, so check for adequate water supplies in your area. To find your water requirements, check with the Water Use Calculator on the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.

Soil type: Based on the climate and soil type in your area, you’ll need to make adjustments to your garden. Certain plants are more likely to thrive in certain types of soil, and vice versa. Look for the right plants and be sure to have the right soil in your area. You can find soil info on your local USDA Plant Hardiness Zone to help you.

Beneficial insects: Pollinators like honey bees are integral to the plant-pollination process. But many plants are important to other beneficial insects, like wasps, flies, and beetles. These are great indicators of the overall health of your garden. If you have some nearby plants that support beneficial insects in your garden, these will also support honey bees. Be sure to add some native plants to your garden that provide nectar and pollen for butterflies and other beneficial insects. Check out the DNR Wildlife Gardens for many native pollinator plants.

Groundcovers: These are plants that typically grow in shade and can be used in perennial borders. They typically provide excellent flower and seed production, and many are bee-friendly. It’s also a great way to control weeds without disturbing the soil, and many groundcovers can form a natural shade over shrubs or perennials. Look at them closely for the unique benefits they provide your bees, your yard, and your environment.

Vegetables: Vegetables are an important part of any bee garden, and many bee-friendly crops are easy to grow. Try a mix of different vegetables, including some nectar-producing plants such as chives, pea vines, daylilies, onions, and beans.

Vegetables for good insects: A number of insect-attracting vegetables provide