Hello, I have just moved into a new house in the south east. I have an empty border that gets lots of sun that I would like to turn it into something the bees will love. It would be really helpful as I am new to gardening, if anyone could suggest any shrubs and flowers that will help the bees.



  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,806

    Anything highly scented-my immediate thought is lavender-virtually trouble free.

  • higgy50higgy50 Posts: 184

    Hi Midget25,

    Firstly well done for wanting to do something for the bees and wildlife! You have an amazing adventure in front of you!

    I moved house myself about two years ago and have been creating a wildlife friendly garden ever since. Within this last two years I have seen the number of bees, butterflies and all types of other wildlife increase dramatically! I have to say that this is a really rewarding style of gardening.

    A wild flower lawn/area is a must if you can fit it in and my top annual wildflower for insects has to be the Corn Marigold in my experience.

    In the perennial borders you can't beat Astrantia and Verbenas in my opinion. If you have room then Buddleia is great shrub/small tree, which will attract lots of bees & Butterflies.

    I recently posted my top ten plants for bees & insects in my own garden on the RSPB Forum. You can view the list here if it is of interest?:-

    The 'Greenfingers' section on this RSPB Community website has lots about planting for wildlife as does this site if you search for it....

    There is also some information about wildlife gardening and wildflowers etc on my blog which again might be of some use or interest to you?

    If there is anything of particular interest chuck me a message via the blog or on here and I'll try and help out if I can?...


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,788

    Hi, well done you for wanting to help the bees - all the gardeners in you neighbourhood should thank you.  There are loads of suggestions on here, so you can have a look and see which you like and which will suit your sunny border.

    One important thing to think about is to make sure you have suitable flowers blooming in the early spring for the bees that are about then, when there are not so many sources of food for them. Bumble bees do not store up supplies of honey to see them through the winter as honey bees do. This site has loads of information and some lists to click on.

    Good luck, and on behalf of all gardeners, thanks for helping the bees image


    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • lydiaannlydiaann Posts: 207

    On our return to the UK last August we moved into a new place in the East Midlands and were upset to see that the bee problem was not just confined to N. America.  We cut out 5 new beds (herb, veg, fruit, ornamental and wildflower) with the idea that the latter 2 would be for pollinating insects.  Sadly, although the wildflower border did extremely well, on our return 3 weeks ago from a short break, we found that the majority of plants were prostrate on the lawn (heavy storms).  However, Hubby fashioned a rather odd-looking support system and they have continued to flower nicely and attracted lots of bees of all kinds.  In the ornamental bed, I followed Sarah Raven's advice and looked out for the plants/bulbs/seeds that had the logo on the pack; the single flower dahlias, the lupins, the achillea are all doing the job beautifully - my new apples trees (2, planted 6 metres apart) have been cross-pollinated very successfully.

  • Gracie5Gracie5 Posts: 125

    The open flowered Dahlia's are a magnet in my garden. The advice above is spot on and the list is endless on what you can plant. Very good luck and well done on gardening for Bees and in turn other beneficial insects..

  • In my (admittedly limited) experience, bees seem to go for smaller flowers such as lavender and heather.  I believe that if you are looking for roses which bees prefrer you should go for the simple, single flowers such as rosa rugosa rather than the very dense petals of a modern rose, as the easier it is for them to get to the pollen-bearing stamens in the middle, the more they like it.

    Oh, and it goes without saying that you should avoid chemical pesticides etc. as much as possible, because even those that claim to be harmless to beneficial wildlife may have effects which are as yet unrecognised.  I choose my words carefully!


  • LunarzLunarz Posts: 93
    In my garden, scabious is the bees' number one favourite, then salvias and lavenders plus hyssops and open flower dahlias (don't use any plant that is pom pom shaped or overly complex as the insects can't get to the pollen) for hover flies (as important as bees for pollination) and insects it's mexican fleabane, any type of daisy type flowers and lobellia. For butterflies it's buddleja which they adore. Generally, any wildflower is great too. Don't use pesticides or herbicides and plant lots of flowers and you'll soon have lots of bees and insects that will then attract lots of birds. Good luck - I've been wildlife gardening for two years now and it's incredibly rewarding image
  • Gracie5Gracie5 Posts: 125

    I am about to replace my very tall Buddleia's for the newish Buddleia 'buzz' series. I already have one and it's the perfect size and easy to manage. Just to say also that blue coloured flowers seem to be the preferred colour for Bees and Butterflies.

  • I like Buddleia too but it can be a bit invasive if you don't keep an eye on it.  They can self-seed all over the place and they put up root runners too.

    I would like to get some blue cranesbill (geranium pratense) for my garden.  We have some in pink and the bees seem to like it, but I am also a big fan of blue flowers.  The cranesbills are easy to look after and are good ground cover.  I like this one:

    I've recently planted some blue salvia and some Russian sage (Perovskia)

    Maybe if we ask nicely we can persuade the RHS website to include a search option for "bee & butterfly-friendly"?

  • They like sage and oregano (marjoram), most herb flowers.

    The RHS has a list, arranged by season which is something to bear in mind - keep the food sources available throughout the year.

  • Thank you everyone you have given me a great place to start, and some very useful information reguarding plants to use. I will keep you posted with hopefully my success over the season.image

  • CatdudeCatdude Posts: 3

    For a list of plants that bumble bees like search for bumble bee conservatioN (can't remember the exact name of the web site).

    As someone has already said, the key is getting something in flower all year (crocus early on through to asters later perhaps).

    Golden rod - now the rain has stopped I counted approximately 200 insects - mainly honey bees - at one time this afternoon on a patch of Golden rod approx 3 x 1 feet. Not, perhaps, the prettiest plant going but pretty much maintenance free and good at tbhis time of year.

    Also attracting the bees today in my garden is buddleia, majoram, fennel and some of the smaller (very invasive) sunflowers which are just starting to open.

  • ElusiveElusive Posts: 992

    In my garden the bees are always on the Dahlia/Lavender and Cosmos. The first two especially.Everytime I look at the Lavender there are multiple bees on it which is lovely to see.

  • Gillian53Gillian53 Posts: 112

    This year I put up some solitary bee houses and drilled logs to provide homes for the bees that were congregating on our sunny wall. This then started an interest in all the visiting bees so I widened all the borders of the front lawn and only planted 'bee friendly' plants. The most popular with the bumble bees seem to be the Hyssops, Salvias and Penstemons. I have tried to plant things that will flower early such as pulmonarias and will soon be putting early flowering bulbs in.

    I think the neighbours thought I was mad when I would stand outside for ages watching the solitary bees fill in the tubes. Now they think I'm crackers when I take my cuppa out to watch the Bumbles.


  • Pennine PetalPennine Petal Posts: 1,541
    The bees love my climbing hydrangea and the low growing pink sedums. I pass an ivy on my way to work, it has highly scented tiny flowers in the autumn. And the bees love it. I also have a very pretty hardy geranium with small white lowers with pink lines. Not sure of the variety but will post a photo when the rain stops. I sit watch the bees going inside the flower. It is quite mesmerising watching the insects at work.
  • Gillian53Gillian53 Posts: 112

    When I arrived home from work yesterday it was raining really hard. There were a number of bumbles on and dangling from the flower heads of my large sedum. Sadly they were soaked through and very still. Coaxed them gently onto a piece of kitchen roll to soak up excess water, fed them a dilute sugar solution and put each under a glass for 5 minutes until their wings dried and they could separate them. The rain stopped,the sun came out and they were ready for off.

    The neighbours think I'm really mad now!

  • We have been having some landscaping work done in the garden and they had to pull out some overgrown heathers under a golden Leylandii-style cypress. They disturbed what the thought at first was a wasps' nest but fotunately for them it turned out to be 'bourdons', which my dictionary translates as bumble bees.  These bees are about honey-bee size, but shorter and fatter, and they seem to be sociable, whereas most bumble bees I am used to are solitary.

  • Pennine PetalPennine Petal Posts: 1,541
    Wow Gillian, what a fantastic thing to do! It must have been very satisfying to see them fly off.
  • Hi All, in June this year I started a FREE classified Ads website and Forum called The aim is to try and bring down the high start up costs of beekeeping, something that deters some people from taking up the hobby.

    I am also running a competition in association with Paynes Bee Farm to give away 2 Poly National Hives with Frames so please check out the website its free to enter the competition and the website could help reduce the start up costs for anyone thinking of becoming a Beekeeper.

  • Gillian it is not mad to support the bees everyone should try. The bees really like my pumpkin flowers at the moment which is a lovely sight to show the children. So if your mad then I must be to as I sit and watch the bees to.
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