Most sources of information on plants suitable for bees will list our native wild flowers, possibly going as far as to suggest a variety of plants for a continuous supply of flowers throughout the Spring and Summer. Bees will of course visit other flowers such as herbs and vegetables and in fact are vital for pollinating a lot of our vegetables (whether grown on farms, in gardens or in allotments).
With changing ideas on growing vegetables we can extend the growing period into early Spring and almost through Winter (using a variety of hardiness types and cropping lengths) and as well as providing food for us. Growing vegetables can provide vital food for bees at times when other flowers may not be available.
The type of flowers bees like depends on the shape of the flower and how easy it is for the bees mouth parts to reach the nectar. As long as they can reach nectar and pollen, bees will happily feed on a range of plant species you don’t normally see on lists of ‘bee friendly flowers’. Basically if you see bees feeding on it, grow more of it.
Some Traditional bee wildflowers
Geranium Pratense, Leucanthemum Vulgare, Field poppy, Gorse, Hawthorn and Bluebell
Some Garden Flowers for bees
Verbena, Lavender, Aster amellus, Agastache foeniculum, Campanula carpatica, Hyssop, Malva moschata, Monarda didyma – Bee balm, Sunflower, Borage (species), Calendula / marigold, and Foxglove
Vegetable & herb flowers for bees
Melissa (Lemon balm), Chives, Jerusalem artichoke, Kale, Brussel sprout, Onion, Garlic, Fennel, Angelica, Shallots, Leek, Origanum vulgare (oregano), Cabbage, Lettuce, Rocket and Cress