Bee Gardening: Ultimate Guide From A Beekeeper

Having a bee-friendly garden is not only highly beneficial for pollinating insects, but also satisfying and fun. Let me try to give you some insight on the topic from a beekeeper's perspective.

David Horstmann

— 21 min read

The ultimate guide to bee gardening from a beekeeper

New to Bee Gardening? You’ve come to the right place

Are you interested in creating a vibrant and thriving garden while also helping the environment? If so, bee gardening might be the perfect choice for you! I would like to share some valuable insights on this subject, based on my personal experiences as a beekeeper.

I’m here to help you unleash a buzzing and blooming bee paradise with a truckload of creative ideas! But first, a bit of grey theory about the basics of pollination. Sorry about that, but it is essential to recognize the vital role that the pollination process plays in bee gardening.

What is Pollination?

Pollen is a powdery substance that is produced by the male parts of seed plants, the stamen. It contains the plant’s male reproductive cells. They are essential for fertilizing a female flower’s reproductive cells, called the pistil. The pollen is transported by various means. It can be carried by wind, water, or by animals such as bees to the female flower parts. This is called pollination.

Two bees covered in pollen in a courgette bloom in my garden

How Bee Gardening can help with Pollination

As gardeners and bee enthusiasts, we can help support the environment by various means. This can include planting a variety of flowers that bloom throughout the growing season. We can provide nesting sites for solitary bees and other important pollinators. And of course we want to avoid the use of pesticides. By taking these steps, we can help ensure that bees continue to play their critical role in pollinating our food crops and supporting our ecosystems.

How to create a Bee-Friendly Garden

Understanding the basics of pollination and its significance in sustaining our environment can help guide your efforts in creating a thriving bee garden. There are a few things you can do to create a bee-friendly environment. Here are some basic bee gardening tips to get you started.

Choose the Right Location for your Bee Garden

The first step to creating a bee-friendly garden is to pick the right location. Just like bees and their beekeepers, plants need need plenty of sunlight to thrive. Choose a spot that gets the most sunlight possible each day. You’ll also want to make sure the soil is well-drained and fertile.

Bees prefer gardens that are sheltered from strong winds. They also like easy access to nectar and pollen sources.

When choosing plants for your bee garden, it’s important to consider the bloom time. Bees need a steady supply of nectar and pollen throughout the growing season. Choose a variety of plants that will bloom at different times. This will ensure that your garden is always buzzing with activity.

Bee Gardening Inspirations
Bee-friendly haven created by Midjourney

Provide Shelter

Bees need shelter to protect them from predators and extreme weather conditions. You can provide shelter for pollinating inscects of all kind by creating various habitats in your garden. This can be as simple as leaving a patch of soil bare for ground-nesting bees or installing a bee hotel for solitary bees.

Instead of cleaning your garden up very tidy you can leave some dead plant material. Dead leaves, twigs, and other organic matter can provide shelter for pollinators overwintering or seeking a place to lay their eggs. Instead of raking up all of your leaves in the fall, leave some in a pile or under shrubs and trees.

Add a Watering Station

Make sure there is a source of water in your garden. You can create a watering station by filling a shallow dish with water and placing rocks or twigs in it for thristy insects to land on. Maybe if you have spare time and the space you could add a little pond somewhere? Or add a fountain to your garden to provide water? Adding a water station would not only provide assistance to pollinating insects but a diverse range of animals such as insects birds or amphibians. Be sure to change the water frequently to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. You don’t want to breed those!

Bee-friendly garden watering station

Watch out! This is important!

When selecting plants, it’s important to consider whether they are native to your area. Do not introduce plants that are not native to your area. This could cause problems and potential harm to your environment.

And just as important is the proper choice of type of flowers and seeds. Plant breeding has transformed into a lucrative industry. Nowadays, garden centres predominantly offer contemporary hybrids called cultivars as ornamental plants.

These cultivars are specifically bred to possess particular characteristics like compact size, larger and diverse blooms, distinct colors, or double blossoms. They are mass-produced through vegetative cutting, resulting in genetic uniformity.

Consequently, they do not rely on pollinators, produce minimal or no nectar or pollen, and are mostly incapable of reproduction. Make sure you have that in mind when choosing bee flowers.

Native plants and wildflowers are often better suited to the local climate and soil conditions anyway. Furthermore, they are more likely to attract native pollinators. By planting a mix of local plants that bloom at different times of the year, you can ensure that there’s always something to keep your insect friends interested.

Flower ideas for bee gardening

How to choose the best Flowers for Bee Gardening

The easiest way to attract bees and other insects to your garden is by planting flowers that draw them in. Local insects will prefer local plants! Make sure the flowers you plant are bee-approved. There’s literally thousands of flowers, shrugs, bushes and trees to choose from.

Selecting the Right Plants

Bees and other foraging insects are attracted to flowers that are rich in pollen and nectar. It’s important to choose plants that provide these essential nutrients.

Make sure you choose flowers that bloom at different times throughout the growing season. This ensures that bees always have access to a diverse range of nectar and pollen sources from early spring to late fall.

Let me suggest a variety of flowers that you can cultivate in your bee-friendly garden. I have chosen flowers that are easy to plant, grow and maintain.

Maybe you don’t own a garden or want to to some bee gardening on your balcony? All the plants I’ve chosen can also be grown in pots or containers.

Bee Gardening in Early Spring

The bees rely heavily on the early spring season, which marks their emergence from hibernation and their need for sufficient energy and resources. To support them during this crucial period, it is recommended to maximize the presence of blooming plants. Here’s a couple of early spring flowers you could try with:


Crocus flowers are a delightful sight after the long winter months. They’re a sign that winter is coming to an end. These small, bulbous plants produce vibrant and colorful blooms that emerge from the ground. Sometimes they even through a blanket of snow. Crocus flowers come in a variety of shades, including purple, yellow, white, and striped varieties.

Their cup-shaped flowers open wide to reveal a bright yellow or orange center, attracting early foragers from the bee colonies. Crocuses are often planted in gardens, lawns, and even rockeries, creating a charming carpet of color.

Personally, I would scatter crocus across your lawn. When they emerge, they signal the arrival of spring and the promise of warmer days ahead.


Daffodil flowers, with their vibrant hues and joyful presence, are a true symbol of spring. These iconic blooms are often associated with renewal and new beginnings. They bring a burst of sunshine to gardens and landscapes. Daffodils feature trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of yellow, white, or even a combination of the two.

But be aware: Bees do not like hybrid daffodils! If you are interested in learning more, here’s a very good article about the issue.

How to plant Daffodil

Daffodils are known for their resilience and ability to thrive in various conditions. They are excellent for planting on slopes or banks, as their deep root system helps with erosion control. Their bright blooms cascading down a slope also creates a stunning visual impact.


A delightful sign of winter’s end, Snowdrops bring a sense of freshness and purity to the landscape. These small, bell-shaped blooms emerge from the cold, snow-covered ground, earning their name. Snowdrops feature pristine white petals that enclose delicate green markings, creating an enchanting contrast.

They often appear in clusters, creating a carpet-like effect. Graceful, drooping blooms add a touch of elegance to gardens and woodland areas. Known for their early blooming nature, snowdrops brave the chilly temperatures to herald the arrival of spring.

How to plant Snowdrops

Snowdrops are best planted in locations that mimic their natural woodland habitat. They like borders and edges and tend to sit below trees.

Flowers for Bee Gardening in Late Spring and Summer

Summer is a crucial time for bees. If you’re doing it right, your bee-friendly garden will have an abundance of blooming flowers for pollinators to forage. In the summer months, bees are trying their best to collect sufficient food reserves for the wintertime.

Additionally, summer is the time when the bees reproduce by swarming and thus splitting their hives in two. Make sure you support their needs. They can use all the help they can get! Here’s a selection of bee flowers you could plant for the summer.


Lavender produces an abundance of nectar and pollen, attracting a wide variety of bees and other pollinators. It blooms from mid to late summer, providing a reliable source of food.

Lavender’s tubular flowers and long blooming period make it an attractive option for both honeybees and bumblebees. Additionally, lavender is a hardy plant that can tolerate dry, hot conditions. This makes lavender an excellent choice for bee-friendly gardens in warmer climates. Lavender might be my favourite plant for bees. I love to see how hundreds of bees gather on the lavender flowers in summer.

A bumblebee sitting on a Lavender flower in my garden

Lavender plants thrive in warm, sunny locations with well-drained soil. They thrive in rock gardens, slopes and banks. Feel free to grow them in containers. I have seen an example where someone has built a rack filled with little containers with blooming lavender. You don’t have to plant all your lavender flowers in the ground, there’s a lot of space for creativity.

Butterfly Bush

Butterfly bush is also known as Buddleia davidii. Butterfly bushes produce large, fragrant flowers that are attractive to bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. They are hardy and easy to grow. This makes them a popular choice for bee-friendly gardens.

Butterfly bush flowers
This one grows at our holiday house (altough it shouldn’t)
Butterfly bushes are good for pollinating insects
All kinds of pollinating insects love the butterfly bush

But take caution: It is important to note that butterfly bushes are considered invasive in some areas. It is important to check with local authorities before planting them. This is for example the case here in Switzerland, where I keep my bees.


Lupine is a great bee-friendly plant for summer. It produces large, showy flower spikes, blooming from late spring to early summer.

Lupines also come in a variety of colors, including blue, purple, pink, and white, making them an attractive addition to bee-friendly gardens. Additionally, lupines are a hardy plant that can tolerate a range of conditions, including dry, hot summers.

However, it is important to note that some species of lupine are toxic to livestock. Please research the specific variety before planting in areas where livestock may graze.


Sunflowers are a great bee-friendly plant for summer. They produce large, showy flowers that are attractive to bees and other pollinators. Sunflowers bloom from mid-summer to early fall.

They come in a variety of sizes and colors, from small dwarf varieties to giant sunflowers that can reach up to 16 feet tall. Additionally, sunflowers are a hardy plant that can tolerate a range of conditions.


Goldenrod flowers are vibrant and captivating. They add a burst of color to any landscape. These cheerful blooms are known for their golden-yellow hue, radiating warmth and joy. With clusters of tiny, daisy-like flowers atop long, slender stems. Bees love Goldenrod.

It is a resilient plant, often found in meadows, fields, and gardens. Goldenrod attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators with its abundant nectar. Beyond its beauty, goldenrod also holds medicinal properties and has been used in herbal remedies for centuries.

Whether in a wild setting or cultivated in a garden, goldenrod brings a touch of sunshine and natural elegance wherever it grows.

Flowers for Bee Gardening in Fall

In fall, bees are taking the last efforts to fill up the bee hive with resources for their hibernation.  The availability of nectar and pollen will start to decrease. Some flowers begin to fade and go dormant. With your support, the bees might find just what they are looking for. With the following bee plants for fall you’re helping them a great deal.


I have a bit of a personal connection with sedum flowers. My parents used to have them in the garden of our house. I remember observing all the different insects that came foraging on them.

Sedum flowers, also known as stonecrop, are a delightful addition to any garden or landscape. These versatile plants come in a wide array of species and cultivars, each with its own unique characteristics. Sedums are admired for their succulent leaves, which range from pale green to vibrant hues of pink, red, and even purple.

How to plant Sedum plant

Sedums are well-adapted to various growing conditions and can thrive in both sunny and partially shaded areas. Their ability to tolerate drought and poor soil makes them a popular choice for rock gardens.

Not only do sedum flowers add a touch of beauty, but they also attract a variety of pollinating insects. This contributes to the overall ecosystem. With their low-maintenance nature and visual appeal, sedum flowers are a wonderful addition to any garden.


Yarrow, scientifically known as Achillea millefolium, is a versatile and hardy perennial herb that has been cherished for centuries. This plant’s feathery, fern-like leaves and clusters of tiny, delicate flowers create a beautiful and timeless display. Yarrow flowers can be found in various colors.

Yarrow is adaptable to different soil types. It can thrive in full sun or partial shade, making it an excellent choice.


Astilbe, commonly known as False Spirea, is a graceful and elegant perennial plant that adds a touch of sophistication to any garden or landscape. With its feathery plumes of flowers rising above lush, fern-like foliage, astilbe creates a stunning visual display.

These flowers come in a range of colors, adding a splash of vibrancy to shaded areas. Astilbe is highly valued for its ability to thrive in moist, shady conditions. It is an excellent choice for woodland gardens or along the edges of water features.

Astilbe for Bee Gardening

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, astilbe also attracts all kinds pollinators. It is low-maintenance nature and has the ability to thrive in challenging environments. Astilbe is a beloved plant for those seeking beauty and resilience in their gardens.

Flowers for Bee Gardening in Winter

Do Bees even visit flowers and forage in winter? That might be the first question that comes up. The short answer is: Yes, they do. Weather permitting, bees go forage and collect nectar and pollen as early as January and February. If you want to help the bees during these harsh times – here’s a couple of plants for the cold winter months.


Erica flowers are a charming and enchanting addition to any landscape. These evergreen shrubs produce delicate, bell-shaped flowers that bloom in a range of hues. They can show shades of white, pink, purple, and even red.

Blooming Erica

Erica flowers are known for their profusion of tiny, clustered blooms that create a carpet-like effect when in full bloom. They are prized for their ability to thrive in poor soil and harsh conditions. They are an excellent choice for rock gardens and areas with low fertility.

In addition to their aesthetic appeal, Erica flowers also attract bees and other pollinators. With their compact size, alluring colors, and resilience, Erica flowers bring a touch of beauty and resilience to any garden or natural setting.


Camellia flowers, known for their exquisite beauty, are a true delight to behold. These evergreen shrubs produce elegant, showy blooms that range in color from pure white to various shades of pink and red. The flowers are characterized by their perfect symmetry and glossy petals. They are great addition to any landscape or garden.

Camellia is one of the flowers for bee gardening

Camellias are revered for their long blooming season. They often grace us with their presence during the cooler months when other flowers may be scarce. The showy, vibrant blooms of camellia flowers are rich in nectar, making them an abundant and reliable food source for bees. The large, open flowers of camellias are easy for insects to access.

Same thing as with daffodils: Bees only like certain types of Camellia (Camellia sasanqua for example), so you have to put a bit of research in. Make sure you choose varieties that produce a lot of pollen.

Winter Jasmine

Winter jasmine, scientifically known as Jasminum nudiflorum, is a captivating flowering shrub that brings a burst of color to any wintery landscape. This deciduous plant is known for its bright yellow flowers. They appear in late winter or early spring, before the leaves on the trees emerge.

The blossoms are small, star-shaped, and abundant, creating a cheerful and vibrant display. It is a hardy plant that can withstand cold temperatures. This makes Winter Jasmine a valuable addition to gardens in cooler climates.

Winter Jasmin Bee Flower

Winter jasmine thrives in full sun or partial shade and can adapt to a variety of soil types. It is often used to provide a splash of color to walls, fences, and trellises. Its long, arching branches can be trained and supported.

The Convenience of Honeybee Wildflower Seed Mixes for Bee Gardening

If you want, you can make Bee Gardening very easy for you. Instead of revamping your entire garden, you can also just make a dedicated corner of your garden as bee-friendly as possible. This can be easily achieved by using honeybee wildflower seed mixes.

These thoughtfully curated blends eliminate the need for extensive research and planning. Wildflower Seed Mixes come with a diverse selection of bee-attracting flowers and herbs. conveniently packaged together.

By sowing these seeds, you can effortlessly contribute to the conservation of bees, promoting biodiversity and enjoying the beauty of a vibrant, buzzing garden.

Avoiding harmful Practices when Bee Gardening

To me, the importance to be mindful of our actions in the environment cannot be understated. We have a profound impact on our surroundings, be it positive or negative. Please, don’t be a negative impact!

Insecticides harm bees and insects

One of the most significant threats to bees and other pollinators is the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. I would never use those. Never ever! I make a conscious effort to avoid using pesticides and insecticides.

If you’re serious about bee gardening, don’t use chemicals. Instead, you’d plant companion plants that attract beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings. They feed on harmful pests like aphids and mites. In nature, there’s always a solution for everything, you just have to put a bit of research in.

Why not leave some areas of your garden wild and untamed? This provides habitat for ground-nesting bees and other beneficial insects. Your wild garden may provide benefits to toads, various birds, or even deer, depending on the size of the area you can keep undisturbed.

A wildflower bee garden, bee-friendly and thriving

By taking these steps, we are able to create a bee-friendly garden that supports a healthy ecosystem. Not only does this benefit bees and other pollinators, but it also helps to improve the health and productivity of our garden overall.

Promoting Bee Habitats in Urban Areas

As someone who deeply cares about our environment, I believe it is important to promote bee habitats in urban areas. With the loss of natural habitats due to urbanization, it is crucial to create spaces that can support bee populations. In this section, I will discuss two ways to promote bee habitats in urban areas: bee hotels and natural habitats.

Bee Hotels

Bee hotels are a great way to support native bee populations and promote pollination in gardens and outdoor spaces. Unlike honeybees, solitary bees do not live in colonies, and they do not produce honey or beeswax. But just like honeybees, they are important pollinators, helping to fertilize plants and crops. Bee hotels offer a safe and secure habitat for solitary bees to lay their eggs and raise their young.

These hotels can attract a variety of bee species, including mason bees, leafcutter bees, and carpenter bees. They are typically smaller than honeybees, and they are less aggressive, making them safe to have around children and pets.

By providing a habitat for these important pollinators, bee hotels can help to support the health and diversity of our ecosystems. It is important to note that bee hotels do not attract honeybees, as they prefer to live in larger colonies.

A Bee Hotel in a Garden

To make a bee hotel, gather materials such as untreated wood, bamboo, and reeds. Cut the materials to size and drill holes in the wood or bamboo. The holes should be of different sizes, ranging from 2mm to 10mm, to accommodate different species of bees. Once the holes are drilled, bundle the materials together and hang them in a sunny spot. Make sure the bee hotel is protected from wind and rain.

Promoting Natural Habitats

Creating natural habitats is another way to promote bee populations in urban areas. By planting native flowers, shrubs, and trees, you can provide bees with a source of food and shelter. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and soil, making them more attractive to bees.

To create a natural habitat, choose plants that are native to your area. Native plants require less water and maintenance, making them easier to care for. Plant a variety of flowers, shrubs, and trees to provide a diverse range of food sources for bees. Create a mix of sunny and shady spots to accommodate different species of bees.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some bee-friendly flowers to plant in my garden?

There are many bee-friendly flowers to plant in your garden. Some popular options include lavender, sunflowers, coneflowers, bee balm, and wildflowers. These flowers are rich in nectar and pollen, which are essential for bees to survive. It’s important to choose flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year so that bees have a constant source of food.

How can I create a bee-friendly environment in my backyard?

Creating a bee-friendly environment in your backyard is easy. Start by planting a variety of flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year. Be sure to provide a source of water for bees, such as a shallow dish or bird bath. You can also create nesting habitats for bees by leaving dead wood or hollow stems in your garden.

What types of plants attract bees to a garden?

Bees are attracted to plants that are rich in nectar and pollen. Some popular options include fruit trees, herbs, and wildflowers. It’s important to choose plants that bloom at different times throughout the year so that bees have a constant source of food.

What are some bee-friendly garden ornaments or gifts?

There are many bee-friendly garden ornaments and gifts that you can give to help support bees. Some popular options include bee houses, butterfly feeders, and wildflower seed packets. These gifts can help create a welcoming environment for bees in your garden.

How can I make my yard a suitable habitat for bees?

To make your yard a suitable habitat for bees, start by planting a variety of flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year. You can also create nesting habitats for bees by leaving dead wood or hollow stems in your garden. Providing a source of water for bees is also important.

What are some ways to encourage bees to visit my garden?

One way to encourage bees to visit your garden is to plant a variety of flowers that bloom at different times throughout the year. Providing a source of water for bees is also important. Avoid using pesticides and herbicides in your garden, as these can be harmful to bees.