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It is true that bees in need will visit most wildflowers to rest their weary wings and power up on their pollen, but just like us, bees have their favourite flowers and a preference for their very favourite plants. But it’s not just bees being picky – there is a bit of a science to it!
Bees love wildflowers!
There's no denying bees love wildflowers, so below we look at ten wildflowers bees love. And as flower lovers ourselves and members of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust - we can all agree they have great tastes and are worth the extra effort! Bees are attracted to bright and pleasant-smelling flora, but they also have some prerequisites for the perfect pollination process.
Flowers with easy-to-land petals are wildflowers bees love!
Tubular / bell-like flowers with flat petals top of our fluffy friend's favourite flowers list. The flat petals make the ideal landing strip, and tubular / bell-like blooms offer cover while they feed. Although all these wildflowers look different, they’ve all got bees absolutely buzzing!
Our top 10 list of wildflowers bees love:
We’re so glad bees love Foxgloves because we’re a big fan of them here too! Foxgloves are biennial wildflowers that, when sown, will reward you with blooms for two whole years. With so many flowers blooming along one tall stem, there’s so much for bees to choose from – it’s a bee buffet! Foxgloves in your garden make for a vibrant and versatile addition to your garden and will also provide a hive of entertainment as bees flock to them.
Teasel, when in flower, is great at attracting bees as it becomes a dome of small purple petals with spikey leaves that are handy to land on and hold on to! Whilst this wildflower is great for bees when it isn’t in bloom, it’s also great for birds, particularly Goldfinches, who feast on its seeds. So, if you’re looking for a wildflower that attracts bees and much more, this is a great wildflower to sow!
Scabious is a recent addition to the RHS Plants for Pollinators list, and what an addition it is! It is a little lilac wonder with an almost flat and round surface. It's the perfect target to land on; no wonder it is often described as looking like a pincushion! Sometimes called ‘Butterfly Blue’ scabious is excellent at attracting bees and other pollinators who love its bright petals.
Clover is a great pollen source for bees and an easy wildflower to find if you leave your lawn unmown, as it often cultivates naturally in unkempt lawns. It’s particularly handy for those bees who are a little bit more tired than the rest as it grows close to the ground, offering them a shorter journey to sanctuary.
5. Oxeye Daisy
Oxeye Daisy makes the perfect landing pad for any bee as their bright yellow centre is a welcome sight for tired, hungry (and perhaps hangry!) bees. The British Beekeepers Association suggests that bees travel up to 5 miles to find food, so a signpost like a brightly centred Oxeye Daisy is a welcome sight.
6. Musk Mallow
Another new addition to the RHS Plants for Pollinators list for 2019, Musk Mallow, is a light pink perennial that sits open and welcoming for bees to land on. Its easy-to-access pollen makes it the ideal flower for attracting bees, and its sweet musky scent invites them to pop in for more than just a pit stop.
Bluebells are typically found in shaded and damp woodland areas, so if a bee happens to find themselves there too, this is one of the first wildflowers they will gravitate too. Bees can fit perfectly into their bells and benefit from a few moments of respite to get revitalised for their next trip.
We’re not bees of course, but even we think this wildflower looks pretty inviting! Almost resembling some sort of sea anemone, Knapweed is a hot favourite with bees due to its bright colours and open appearance. There are different varieties of Knapweed – Greater and Lesser, but to a bee, they’re all the same – delicious!
9. Vipers Bugloss
The electric blue blooms of Vipers Bugloss are irresistible to bees, and as its stamens stick out, they’re extra easy to get to. Offering a pop of colour to your meadow, you can be sure that this wildflower is a tourist attraction for bees far and wide.
Cowslip is the only all-yellow wildflower on our list; it's a ray of sunshine and a great pollen source for bees. With its tubular flora, it’s another firm fan favourite of bees, who, in particularly hot weather, can enjoy solace, shade and top-notch pollen under its butter-yellow canopy.
Of course, there are lots of other wildflowers that bees love - you can find them all on the RHS Plants for Pollinators list and if you’re planning to sow some - all of our wildflower mixes contain wildflowers approved on the RHS Plants for Pollinators list.
When you are finished with our ten wildflowers bees love, look at our Wildflower 101: FAQs about wildflowers.