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 are attracted to bright and pleasant-smelling flora, but they also have some pre-requisites for the perfect pollination process. Tubular / bell like flowers with flat petals top the list for bees’ favourite flowers – with flat petals making the ideal landing strip and tubular / bell like blooms offering cover while they feed. Although all these wildflowers look different, they’ve all got bees absolutely buzzing!
We’re so glad bee’s 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, in particular Goldfinches who feast on its seeds. So, if you’re looking for a wildflower that attracts bees and much 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! Scabious is a little lilac wonder that has an almost flat and round surface – the perfect target to land on, no wonder it is often described as looking like a pin cushion! Sometimes called ‘Butterfly Blue’ scabious is excellent at attracting bees and other pollinators who love its bright petals.
Clover is a great source of pollen for bees and is an easy wildflower to find if you leave your lawn unmown, as it often cultivates naturally in unkept lawns. It’s particularly handy for those bees who are little bit more tired than the rest as it grows close to the ground, offering them a shorter journey for sanctuary.
Oxeye Daisy’s make for 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 will travel up to 5 miles to find food, so a signpost like a brightly centered Oxeye Daisy is a very welcome sight.
Another new addition to the RHS Plants for Pollinators list for 2019, Musk Mallow is a light pink perennial that sits open and welcome for bees to land on. It’s easy to access pollen makes it the ideal flower for attracting bees alongside its sweet musky scent that 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 definitely not bees, 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 exactly the same – delicious!
The electric blue blooms of Vipers Bugloss are irresistible to bees and as its stamen’s 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.
The only all-yellow wildflower on our list, Cowslip is a ray of sunshine and great source of pollen 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 like - 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.