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Colusa County Master Gardener’s: Pollinators – Bees


Published: February 10, 2016 • By: UCCE Colusa County Master Gardeners

Nearly all ecosystems on earth depend on pollination of flowering plants for their existence and survival. When most people look at a flower, they notice the shape and smell of the flower, but few take a moment to consider why the flower appears and smells as it does. Take a stroll through your neighborhood or hike in the hills, and experience the shapes and smells of flowers surrounding you.

Bees are the most important pollinator of agricultural crops, backyard plants and wildflowers. People are most familiar with the European honey bee (Apis mellifera). The honey bee is just one species of bee in this incredibly diverse group. Native bee species come in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes, and lifestyles that enable them to pollinate a diverse plant world.

How to attract bees to your garden

A habitat garden provides wildlife with known resources for survival: food (nectar, pollen or fruit), water, shelter and a place to raise their young (bee box).

Plan your garden with a variety of plant types that will bloom from late winter to early fall. Diversify your plants. Having a large diversity of plants ensures that pollen and nectar are accessible for a variety of pollinators. Bees need both nectar and pollen from flowers to meet its nutritional needs.

Plants that attract bees

Alyssum, bee balm, black-eyed susan, chrysanthemum, coneflower, daisies, forsythia, geranium, hollyhock, hydrangea, jasmine, lantana, marigold, pansies, petunia, pincushion flower, roses, salvia, sage, snapdragon, sunflower, sweet pea, yarrow and zinnias. There are more plants than I can list that attract bees.