How to help bees at home: the best flowers for bees and more

According to a Yale University report, one in every three bites of successfully harvested food depends on pollinators like bees. Yet beekeepers across the globe have noted substantial annual population decline, with up to 50% bee losses reported in recent winters. If you’re wondering ‘how can I save the bees?’, here are a few practical ideas to protect and support your local pollinators.

Hamburg - Create a bee friendly garden at home with our guide to attracting pollinators.

Plant the best flowers for bees

A good rule when selecting the best flowers for bees is to choose native plants, ideally in a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes for greater biodiversity. There are thousands of bee species, each with unique needs – some gravitate to herbs, others to shrubs. If you have the space, juxtapose larger plants like cherry and birch trees with a border of low-growth greenery, like vibrant varieties of heather.

When selecting native flowers for your garden, look out for plants in shades of purple. This hue stands out to bees more than any other, making them naturally attracted to plants like lavender and catmint. Long-tongued pollinators like garden bumblebees also love aromatic flowers with tubular shapes, such as honeysuckle, foxgloves and snapdragons.

How to have a year-round garden

While bees are at their most active between March and September, warmer winter days may lure queens out of hiding. Provide a constant source of food in your garden throughout the seasons to protect the hive. Here are a few examples of the best flowers for bees in different seasons:

  • Spring: lilac, daffodil, crab apple, hawthorn, rhododendron, crocus

  • Summer: echinacea, snapdragon, foxglove, fennel, geranium, thyme

  • Autumn: goldenrod, zinnia, cornflower, witch hazel, lavender

  • Winter: aconite, evergreen clematis, Oregon grape, winter-flowering heather

Plan your flowering garden accordingly, and remember that seeds for summer plants should be sown in late winter, with spring bulbs planted in the autumn months.

A way to save bees: build a bee hotel

Cater to solitary species by installing a bee hotel in your garden. You can craft one of these by filling a wooden box with an assortment of hollow reeds and branches for bees to nest in. A simple and natural alternative is to drill holes into a dead tree. You can also set aside a patch of uncultivated garden for burrowing varieties and a section of clay-rich mud for mason bees, who use it to protect their nesting chambers. All creatures benefit from a fresh water source; offer bees a shallow basin with pebbles for them to land on and enjoy a drink without the risk of drowning.

How to save bees from pesticides

One of the most important things anyone wondering ‘how can I save the bees?’ can do is to avoid the use of harmful chemicals in the garden. Rather than using pesticides, add plants to the garden that do double duty as natural repellents. For example, while lavender attracts bees, it also deters flies, mosquitoes and moths. Lemongrass, basil and thyme are further examples of pest-repelling plants to protect your garden the natural way. 

By providing reliable sources of pollen, nectar and water, you’ll attract helpful pollinators to your home and garden. Doing your part to save the bees helps encourage vibrant blooms and abundant crops for generations to come.

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