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How to Attract Honey Bees

Two Parts:Planting Bee-Friendly FlowersMaking Your Yard a Bee Haven

Honey bees help your garden grow beautiful. Having bees buzzing around to act as pollinators brings life to the yard and makes flowers and other plants lush and abundant. You can attract bees by planting wildflowers, fruits, vegetables and sunflowers; letting your yard grow a little wild; and providing water and shelter for bees. Read on to learn more about how to attract honey bees.

Part 1
Planting Bee-Friendly Flowers

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    Plant flowers native to your area. Bees evolved with wildflowers, and the bees in your area will respond best to the flowers they "grew up with," so to speak. What flowers are native to your area? If you're not sure, go to a local gardening store and ask for a native wildflower mix, or do some research online before ordering seeds. If you don't want your garden to be completely wild, choose at least a few species that will complement the rest of your garden and attract bees.
    • The more wildflowers you plant, the more bees you'll attract, and the better your garden will grow. Planting wildflowers is beneficial in more ways than one!
    • Aim to plant a great diversity of flowers with a range of shapes and textures, not just one or two types. The more diverse your garden is, the better it will support different bee species as well as other beneficial insects and wildlife.[1]
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    Plant flowers with single petals. Flowers with a single row of petals, rather than flowers with more than one row, are more attractive to bees. Single-petaled flowers have more pollen than other flowers, so they provide a little more food for hungry honey bees. It's also easier for bees to reach the pollen when there is only one row of petals to crawl across.[2] Here are a few flowers bees particularly love:
    • Asters
    • Calliopsis
    • Clover
    • Cosmos
    • Crocuses
    • Dahlias
    • Foxglove
    • Geraniums
    • Hollyhocks
    • Hyacinth
    • Marigolds
    • Poppies
    • Roses
    • Snowdrops
    • Sunflowers
    • Zinnias
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    Plant yellow, white, blue and purple flowers. These colors attract bees more than pinks, oranges and reds do. Your garden doesn't have to be exclusively yellow, blue and purple, but having a good amount of flowers with these hues will keep the bees buzzing in your yard.
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    Plant flowers that bloom in sequence. If all of your flowers bloom at the same time, the bees will have a feast, then run out of food before the summer's end. Plant a variety of flowers that will bloom throughout the spring, summer, and into the fall to keep the bees in your neighborhood fed and happy.
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    Plant flowering vegetable and fruit plants. Berries, melons, squash, cucumbers, and fruit trees, especially cherry trees, all produce fragrant flowers and fruit that are attractive to bees. Bees are beneficial to these plants, so providing them in your garden will be a treat for you both.[3] Bees adore these fruits and vegetables:
    • Blackberries
    • Cantaloupe
    • Cucumbers
    • Gourds
    • Cherry trees
    • Peppers
    • Pumpkins
    • Squash
    • Strawberries
    • Watermelons
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    Plant herbs that attract bees. If you have space for a little herb garden, that's another great way to attract bees. Mints attract certain types of bees, as do sage, rosemary, thyme, bee balm, and a number of other herbs.[4] Here's a list of herbs that bees love, for your reference:
    • Bee Balm
    • Borage
    • Catnip
    • Coriander/Cilantro
    • Fennel
    • Lavender
    • Mints
    • Rosemary
    • Sage
    • Thyme

Part 2
Making Your Yard a Bee Haven

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    Let it get a little wild. If your grass is close-clipped, every stick has been picked up, and there's not a muddy spot to be found, bees will have trouble finding a home in your yard, no matter how many wildflowers you plant. Bees are wild creatures who need a wild habitat to thrive. If you want them to take up residence in your yard, do the following:
    • Allow for some open, meadow-like spaces in your yard and garden.
    • Leave an area un-mowed and let wild clover grow.
    • Leave a small brush pile and some leaves lying where they fell. Bees will use them to make a home.
    • Leave patches of exposed dirt that turn to mud when it rains. Some bees live underground and will thank you for access to the mud they need.
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    Make a bee bath. Bees have trouble using birdbaths, because they aren't able to land in deep water. They need an island to land on so they can walk to the edge and take a drink or a bath without drowning. To make a bee bath, take a wide, shallow dish or tray and line the edges with flat rocks. Pour water over the rocks and into the bottom of the tray. Place it in your garden near the flowers that attract the most bees. The bees will be able to land on the rocks and access the water.
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    Provide a bee shelter. Rotting vegetation and stumps are great shelters for bees. More and more backyard gardeners are installing hives and other bee shelters to provide nesting spots for bees. If you're serious about attracting bees to your yard and helping them thrive, this option might be something to consider. You can start by building a small bee "house" using the following method:
    • Take a small wooden box and paint it a bright color, preferably white, yellow, bright blue or purple. Use organic paint so the bees won't get sick.[5]
    • Layer the box with nesting tubes, standing them upright. You can buy them from a garden store or make your own by rolling brown craft paper around a pencil, pinching off the end and holding it together with tape, leaving the ends open.[6] Fill the box to the top with these tubes standing upright, so that the exposed holes are open for the bees to climb in.
    • Turn the box on its side. Be sure you've used enough tubes so that they don't slip out when you move the box. Hang from a tree or a post at eye level in an area sheltered from rain.
    • Dig up an area of the ground nearby to expose dirt and clay the bees can use to build their nest.[7]
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    Stop using pesticides of any kind. Bees are susceptible to pesticides and other chemicals sprayed and used in gardens. Aim to have a pesticide-free garden and use pest-ridding remedies that are natural and not reliant on chemicals. If you do spray plants, only do so after dusk, when pollinators are least active, avoid using chemicals known to harm bees.


  • Plants which attract bees often attract hummingbirds and butterflies as well.
  • Instead of using pesticides, use natural pest eaters such as spiders and ladybugs, picking off pests by hand and natural pesticides made from plants.
  • Find a local beekeeper and see if he or she would like to have their bees forage on your property.
  • Bees like shallow pools of water; provide some for them but refresh regularly to avoid stagnation and keep a watch out for mosquito larvae––you don't want to create a different problem!
  • Create bee nesting areas if you're happy to have bees living in your garden. The type of nest will depend on which bees visit your garden––bumble bees, ground nesting or cavity/wood nesting bees.
  • If vector spraying happens in your neighborhood, look into it and consider taking action against it if it may be harmful to honey bee colonies.


  • If you or a family member has a bee allergy, be extremely careful. Consider not making any efforts to attract bees or have the allergic person take extra precautions such as wearing shoes, not going near bee-attracting bushes or plants and carrying an epi-pen––this is doable provided the allergic person behaves responsibly.
  • Do not harass bees at their nest.
  • Once there are more bees present on your property, be more careful about your movements, especially walking barefoot or walking among the flowers.
  • Avoid leaving sugar water, syrup or confectioners sugar out for bee feeding. Bees need healthy sources of food, not manufactured sweetness.

Things You'll Need

  • Appropriate plants
  • Water
  • Nesting places (optional)

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