10 Pollinator-Friendly Plants That Can Help Save the Bees

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"Spring is here, and with it comes pollen. So let’s make the most of it and learn how we can use it to help the bees. "

Climate change has been making it harder and harder for animals to survive, as research shows many can’t adapt fast enough to survive—bees, included. With the unpredictable, extreme temperatures we’ve experienced in recent years, our pollinating BFFs are struggling to survive. That’s why there’s no better time than now to plant pollinator flowers for bees in your garden.

Our food system relies heavily on these buzzing insects and their pollinating powers. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), one-third of the food we eat comes from crops pollinated by honey bees, including apples, melons, broccoli, and almonds. Without them, we also wouldn’t have beeswax wraps to store our food, honey to sweeten our tea, or bee pollen itself to add to our smoothies.  

Now, we’re not far from a bee-free reality. Some bee species, like the rusty patched bumblebee, have already been deemed endangered. If they’re no longer seen in a particular region, then it’s safe to say that “they’ve either moved elsewhere or died,” Peter Soroye, a PhD student at the University of Ottawa in Canada, told National Geographic.

The bumblebees can’t take the intense heat. Pair this with the increased use of pesticides that leads to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), and the bees are almost certain to face a sad fate. 

Luckily, there are a few different ways that we can help save the bees. One way is to plant more pollinator flowers for bees in your garden without using pesticides. After doing so, simply sit back and watch the bees come to you. Use this map as a guide to decide which of the plants below will thrive in your area.


10 Pollinator Flowers for Bees

1. Lavender

pollinator friendly plants

Thrives In: Zones 5-8

According to a 2013 study, Lavender is actually one of the most popular flowers among the bees. It can last several years in its preferred environment of intensely dry soil and ample sunlight. Also, it will make your garden smell amazing

2. Sunflowers

pollinator friendly plants

Thrives In: Zones 2-11

Sunflowers are great for impressing your neighbors and attracting a whole bee club meeting at your garden. Their size makes them very plentiful for bees in search of nectar. They’re also great wild bee magnets

3. Bee Balm

pollinator friendly plants

Thrives In: Zones 4-9

Bee Balm, as the name suggests, is extremely popular amongst the bees. It’s a perennial, which means it will continue to grow in your garden year after year with minimal effort from you. Just make sure it’s in a sunny location and keep its soil moist.

4. Basil

pollinator friendly plants

Thrives In: Zones 3-8

Basil thrives in the sun—as do the bees—making it a very attractive source of food and pollen for our pollinator friends. Just make sure you’re planting your basil in soil that’s moist yet well-drained to ensure healthy growth.

5. Yarrow

pollinator friendly plants

Thrives In: Zones 3-8

It’s hard to find a blooming yarrow plant that isn’t covered in bees. Yarrow comes in many distinct colors and makes for the perfect addition to any garden. It’s also an excellent option for any gardening enthusiast who forgets to attend to plants from time to time, as it doesn’t require fertilizer and only needs to be watered during times of severe drought.

6. Echinacea

pollinator friendly plants

Thrives In: Zones 3-8

Echinacea is known by many as the central ingredient in immune-boosting tea varieties. To nurture a healthy Echinacea plant, give it a lot of sunlight and rich, well-drained soil. Treated right, it can produce up to 100 blooms that bees will be sure to flock to.

7. Zinnia

pollinator friendly plants

Thrives In: Zones 2-11

Zinnia flowers are particularly adored by honeybees and bumblebees. Smaller bees and solitary bees, however, can also often be spotted on these little flowers. They provide a burst of color to your garden from midsummer all the way through the first tough frost of the year.

8. Rosemary

pollinator friendly plants

Thrives In: Zone 6 and Zones 7-10

Rosemary produces tiny flowers that draw in the bees. In fact, people often struggle to keep them away from flowered rosemary bushes. Bonus: By having an endless stock of rosemary right in your garden or herb space, you’ll never run out of seasoning.

9. Verbena

pollinator friendly plants

Thrives In: Zones 7-11

Verbena is a fan-favorite in the bee community. These beautiful, long-blooming flowers require 8 to 10 hours of sunlight per day and they’re not picky about their soil. So long as it’s well-drained, your Verbena should thrive.

10. Milkweed

pollinator friendly plants

Thrives In: Zones 3-8

Milkweed is commonly known as the Monarch Butterfly’s favorite food, but what many don’t realize is that they’re also big bee attractors. As a wildflower, Milkweed will flourish in dry soil and lots of sunlight.

Curious about a zero waste lifestyle? Want to know what the “circular economy” really means? Subscribe to Brightly’s top-rated podcast, Good Together. Every 30-minute episode features daily, actionable tips to help you live your life more sustainably.

Spring is here, and with it comes pollen. So let’s make the most of it and learn how we can use it to help the bees.

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