Bees are wonderful and hardworking creatures. But due to climate change and landscapes which are being cleared off, the bees’ population is in danger. Before it comes to extinction, let’s all help the bees to have a home.
You can do this by simply planting the bees’ favourite flowers in your garden. The only question is, how will you know what their favourite flowers are? The best way to find out is to identify the type of bee species in your location. Since I’m living in Australia, this article will focus on the top flowers that attract true blue Australian native bees.
A quick bee history, there are 1,600 identified native bees in Australia. Native bees’ sizes vary on their species’ type and their colours can range from black, metallic green, red and yellow. But there are some species that have a black colour with blue circular spots.
Since it is spring, the ideal flowers to plant that certainly can attract Australian native bees are the following:
Bottlebrush is an interesting flower to plant in spring due to its hairbrush-like appearance. This flower can grow from 3 feet tall; while for its tree, it can grow up to 25 feet tall and 10 feet wide.
Other than red, bottlebrush can grow with pink or yellow flowers.
The proper way to care for bottlebrush is planting it under full sun and keep the soil moist regularly. Bottlebrush is known to grow near the rivers of South Australia and some dry areas in Victoria and New South Wales.
With butterfly bush bountiful masses of blooms, it isn’t surprising why bees and other nectar feeder fell in love with this plant. Aside from its blooms, butterfly bush also has long, pointed trusses. This plant’s size may vary depends on the species you have planted. But an average butterfly bush can grow up to 12 feet tall and 15 feet wide.
The good thing about butterfly bush is it can be planted in any kind of soil and requires low-maintenance in fertilising. This is because fertiliser can cause the leaves to grow longer with fewer blooms. For watering, you only need to water it regularly.
Also, you must plant it under full sun exposure. Though it can grow under shades, expect it to grow with fewer blooms.
Clover is a perennial plant that can grow in three colours: crimson, red and white. Both are attractive to bees, except for honeybees as they don’t like the red clover. The interesting part of this flower is it can either grow in infertile soil or places with a high presence of irrigation such as the pasture and lawn.
In spring, the best species to plant is the white clover. To ensure good seedling, you must prepare the soil condition by maintaining its fertility (medium to high, and have good levels of sulphur, phosphorus, and potassium). Also, keep it well-drained and fertilised.
White clover commonly grows up to 6 inches tall and consists of 20 to 40 blooms.
Cut-leaf daisies are perennial herbs that are known for being colourful and robust. It can grow up to 30cm (height) with 3 feet diameter. During spring, the foliage has a light green colour while the blooms’ head can range from lemon, whites, mauve, and purple to pinkish colour.
The best way to plant this is under full sun exposure and with light watering. Make sure to always follow the light watering because when exposed with too much water, powdery mildew can be a huge problem. For the soil type, you can plant this either in light-sandy loams or heavy clays.
This is normally found in North South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland.
Gum BlossomThe gum blossom is like the bottlebrush, it doesn’t have the typical petals. The bloom consists of stamens. This is the main reason bees and other nectar-feeding animals love this. Its colour ranges from white, purple, lime, pink, vermilion and red.
The gum blossom species on the photo above is called ‘Eucalyptus macrocarpa’. This plant is popularly known to grow in the sand plains of Western Australia, but some species can be found in Western Sydney.
The flowers have a striking colour red with a diameter of 100mm. If bees love the flowers, most people’s attention is on its large leaves because it has a size of 12cm long and 8cm wide. Its colour is silvery-grey with an ovate-elliptical shape.
You can plant this in areas with partial to full sun exposure. Watering-wise, it has a low requirement as this plant has tolerance to drought, wind, heat, and humidity. The one problem that you must watch out for are pests. The common pest that can infest this plant is aphids. Once you notice it, you must do some complete pest control.
LavenderIf you live in urban areas, woodlands or forest, the type of bees that will regularly visit your garden is the blue-banded bee. To ensure they will enjoy their visit, offer them your luscious lavender garden.
You can grow lavender by planting it under full sun, mulch using small sized bark, and on low to average fertile soils. When it comes to watering, you only must water it regularly when starting. But do it once or twice in a week when it mature.
Lavender grows between 1 to 3 feet tall and wide. The two things that you must watch out with this plant are mould and weeds. Once you find any, no matter the size or shape, remove it immediately.
When you hear about Rosemary, you will immediately think of cooking. This is certainly the same thing for bees as lavender is a fragrant treat for them too.
Lavender is a woody perennial herb known for its evergreen needle-like leaves and blue blossoms. You can grow this plant on soil with high levels of pH, well-drained and loamy to sandy soil type. Rosemary grows approximately 4 feet wide and tall.
To avoid getting the rosemary skinny and leggy, you need to prune it regularly.
Spring is all about having fun under the sun. So, why not add sun-inspired flowers that you and the native bees would love! Sunflower is the best option as this is easy to grow and is a useful ingredient for various food products. Not to mention, fast growing as this can reach up to 6 feet tall in just six months or less.
The length of the growing period lies on the species, for small sunflower species it usually grows between 10 to 12 weeks. While for the larger species, it can grow longer (12 to 16 weeks). Its best to check the label of the seeds or do research to know the exact length of the growing period.
The best way to plant this is by creating a seedbed and to dig a hole with 2cm depth. Upon showing of seed, you need to mulch it to retain its moisture. Mulch has a huge impact on growing sunflowers. If you put green manure, the sunflower will grow bulky and bushy. But if you prefer a heavy seed crop, just add 2 handfuls of poultry manure.
The exciting part of this process is once your spring-inspired flowers bloom perfectly you can expect bees to flock to it.
Gardening is a fun activity. But the fun and excitement grows as your spring-inspired flowers bloom perfectly. This is the time that bees will start to visit your garden. If you don’t want to wait longer for the bees to notice your garden, you can always move a beehive close to your garden. If you are interested, here’s a quick guide on how to move a beehive properly.