The Wine Country Online

Bee Plants

By Frédérique Lavoipierre

Attracting bees to the garden will improve pollination of fruit and vegetables. Generally, bees go about their business and pose no threat to humans unless stepped on. Being stung in the garden is unusual, although those with severe allergies may choose to place bee plants away from doors, windows, paths and driveway areas. Those who enjoy being barefoot on their lawn may not want Dutch white clover growing in the grass, but planting the veggie garden paths with clover will fix nitrogen in addition to attracting bees to pollinate fruits and vegetables.

Blue, violet and pink are the flower colors most attractive to bees. Some flowers, such as roses and poppies, provide pollen but no nectar. And some plants, such as privet and English ivy, lure honeybees but produce strong, unpleasant-tasting honey.

For more information on attracting honeybees, The Wildlife Gardener by John V. Dennis has a good chapter on bees and bee plants.

To encourage bees, plant any of the following:

  • Any herbs, left to flower
  • Mint family
  • Thymes
  • Borage
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Bee balm (Monarda)
  • Buckwheat (many ornamental varieties)
  • White clover (but not red)
  • Honey locust
  • Fruit trees
  • Citrus
  • Curcurbits   cukes, squashes, melons, pumpkins
  • Mustard family   includes broccoli, arugula, etc.
  • Natives   California bay, madrone, manzanita, wild berry, redbud, willow, toyon, ceanothus, all sorts of native wildflowers

Frédérique Lavoipierre is a garden fature writer for Sonoma County's outstanding newspaper, the Press Democrat, and a member of Slow Food Sonoma County. Frédérique also has an interesting sideline in that she writes wonderfully descriptive garden tours for homeowners as a valuable sales tool when they list their homes for sale. You can contact Frédérique by email at