To plant to help improve bees' foraging possibiulities people often consider planting bee-friendly flowers so that there is something for bees in each of the main foraging months: April - September.
If you are looking for a quick shopping list, then the British BeeKeeping Aassociation recommends Hellebores, Salvia, Echinacia, Rudbekia, Lavender, Snowdrop, Crocus, Cosmos, Sedum and Verbena.
The following is a more detailed consideration:
Flowers for Bees
Bees need to find pollen and nectar whenever they fly. This is generally when the temperature is more than 13oC. So it is a good idea to have bee-friendly flowers flowering throughout the year.
The information below is general, but if you notice plants covered in bees then please let us know - use the contact form available via the menu saying what plant, what month and approximate location in UK. Thank you.
February – Hazel, Snowdrop
March – Hazel, Snowdrop, Crocus, Sallix (Willow), Pears, Plums
April – Oil Seed Rape, Cherry, Ribes, Hawthorn,
Apples, Dandelion, Mahonia
May - Oil Seed Rape, Cherry, Ribes, Horse Chestnut, Holly, Dead Nettle, Apples, Dandelion, Mahonia, Sycamore, Field bean, Raspberry
June – White Clover, Lime, Borage, Dead Nettle, Sunflower, Blackberry, Holly, Dandelion, Privet, Oil Seed Rape
July – Borage, Hebe, Blackberry, Dandelion, Heathers, Cotoneaster, Michaelmas Daisies, Rosebay Willow Herb, White Clover, Sunflower, Old Man's Beard, Dead Nettle, Lavender, Privet
August – Red Clover, Heather, Michaelmas Daisies, Dead Nettle, Privet, Rosebay Willow Herb, Blackberry, Borage, Dandelion, Lavender, Sunflower
September – Michaelmas Daisies, Ivy
October & November – Ivy
RHS tip: if space is tight - catmint, lavender or phacelia tanacetifolia
BBKA quick-help tip: consider planting oregano and marjoram
Top 30 plants for honey bees (according to RosyBee):
Helenium Autumnale, Calamint, Sedum Spectabile, Helenium SEF, Borage (Spring), Veronicasrtrum, Origanum Vulgare (white), Geranium Rozanne, Origanum Vulgare, Teucrium Hircanium, Aster Novi Belgil, Helenium Moorheim, Centaurea Scabiosa, Origanum Onites, Echinops Star Frost
Malva Alcea, Lavadula Eidelweis, Lavandula Sawyers, Eryngium Giganteum Melliot, Eryngium Planum, Eupatorium, Borage (over-wintered), Phacella (spring), Hyssopus, Veronica Spicata, Scabiosa Columbaria, Rudbeckia Fulgida, Echium Vulgare, Lavandula Grosso
The following shows some of the best plants for pollinators:
November - February
Chaenomeles, Clematis cirrhosa, Eranthis - winter (aconites), Lonicera x purpusii, Mahonias winter flowering e.g. ‘Charity’, Viburnum tinus.
Crocus, Erica carnea, Primroses and polyanthus – All, Pulmonaria, Rosemary, Single Snowdrops, Violets – All, Willows
Aubrieta, Doronicum, Grape hyacinth, Honesty - Lunnnaria, Fruit blossom – pear, cherry, plum, Poppies – Iceland varieties, All Primroses and polyanthus plus cowslips Rosemary, Violets – All, Wallflowers
Alliums, Aquilegia, Borage, Cowslips, Fruit blossom – apple and crab apple Hardy geraniums, Hesperis – sweet rocket, Honesty – Lunnnaria, Lychnis – Ragged Robin, Lupins (early ones), Poppies – Iceland varieties and all early singles, Ribes sanguineum, Rosemary, Strawberry
Alliums, Angelica, Borage, Catmint/Nepeta, Coriander, Delphiniums, Eryngiums eg Miss Wilmott’s Ghost, Hesperis – sweet rocket, Honeysuckle eg Belgica, Lupins, Lychnis – Ragged Robin, Marigolds – open centred forms better than multi-petalled forms, Marjoram, Poppies – all singles, Roses eg Lucetta, Sages/salvias, Scabious – all, Stachys, Thyme, Valerian – real, as well as the red form, Viper’s Bugloss
Alliums, Angelica, Borage, Buddleias, Catmint/Nepeta, Chamomile, Coriander, Dahlias – single and semi-double varieties e.g. Bishop of Llandaff and Classic Rosamunda, Delphiniums, Globe thistles/Echinops, Eryngiums or sea hollies, eg. Eryngium planum, E x tripartitum, Fennel, Honeysuckle eg. Belgica, Lavenders, Liatris, Lupins, Lychnis – Ragged Robin, Lysimachias, Knapweeds, Marigolds, Marjoram, Phlox, Poppies – all single varieties, Raspberry and Blackberry, Roses eg. Lucetta, Sages/salvias, Scabious – all, Stachys, Thyme, Valerian – real, as well as the red form, Verbena bonariensis, Veronicastrum, Viper’s Bugloss
Borage, Buddleias, Caryopteris, Chamomile, Coriander, Dahlias – single and semi-double varieties eg. Bishop of Llandaff and Classic Rosamunda, Eupatorium, Fennel, Helenium, Lavender, Liatris, Lysimachias, Knapweeds, Marjoram, Phlox, Poppies – all single varieties, Roses eg Lucetta, Sages/salvias, Sedum spectabile, Scabious – all, Sunflowers, Thyme, Valerian – real, as well as the red form, Verbena bonariensis, Veronicastrum, Viper’s Bugloss
Aster amellus, Aster novae-angliae, Colchicum, Clematis heracleifolia, Dahlias – single and semi-double varieties e.g. Bishop of Llandaff and Classic Rosamunda, Delphiniums – 2nd flowering, Eupatorium, Echinaceas – all, Fennel, Ivy flowers, Liatris, Phlox, Rudbekias – all, Sages/salvias, Scabious, particularly now the long-flowering Scabiosa atropurpurea varieties, Verbena bonariensis
Aconitum carmichaelii, Aster lateriflorus, Crocus - early varieties eg. Crocus tommasinianus and C. chrysanthus, Dahlias – single and semi-double varieties e.g. Bishop of Llandaff and Classic Rosamunda, Echinaceas – all, Ivy flowers, Rudbekias – all, Salvia leucanthina, Verbena bonariensis