A plea for Bees

The decline of the honey bee is increasingly well documented. But there are many other bee species that are essential in the pollination of plants and the production of food crops, and they are also under threat. There are a number of causes. The Varroa mite and certain agricultural pesticides like Bayer's Clothianidin, a neonicotinoid, are cited as primary suspects, together with loss of habitat due to modern farming practices..

We used to have 27 species of Bumble Bee in the UK. 2 have become extinct in the last 70 years and several more are on the critical list. Much needs doing beyond the garden gate, but there is plenty we gardeners can do. Wherever you live in the UK, you should be able to attract at least 6 bumblebee species to your garden, and perhaps as many at 10.

Think about your choice of plants. Native wildflowers and cottage garden style plants are the best (see full list below), while doubles, exotics and annuals such as Busy Lizzies and Begonia are the worst. Try and provide bee friendly habitats and nesting sites and join http://bumblebeeconservation.org/about-bees/.

List of Plants recommended by the RHS


Borage (Borago officinalis)
Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum)
Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica)
Candytuft (Iberis species)
China aster (Callistephus chinensis)
Clarkia (Clarkia species)
Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)
Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)
Forget-me-not (Myosotis species)
Gilia capitata
Godetia (Clarkia species)
Heliotrope (Heliotropium cultivars)
Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena)
Mignonette (Reseda odorata)
Nemophila menziesii
Phacelia species
Poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii)
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Sweet sultan (Amberboa moschata)
Zinnia (Zinnia elegans)

Biennials and perennials

French honeysuckle (Hedysarum coronarium)
Hollyhock - single flowered (Alcea rosea)
Honesty (Lunaria annua)
Wallflower (Erysimum species)
Herbaceous perennials
Agastache foeniculum
Alyssum species
Anchusa azurea
Arabis species
Aubrieta species
Bellflowers (Campanula species)
Catmints (Nepeta species)
Cranesbill (Geranium species)
Dahlia - single-flowered species and cultivars
Eryngium species
Fleabane (Erigeron species)
Geum species
Globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus)
Globe thistle (Echinops ritro)
Golden rod (Solidago species)
Gypsophila paniculata
Helenium species
Hellebores (Helleborus species)
Ice plant (Sedum spectabile)
Jacob's ladder (Polemonium caeruleum)
Japanese anemone (Anemone × hybrida)
Lambs' ears (Stachys byzantina)
Leopard's bane (Doronicum species)
Liatris spicata
Michaelmas daisies (Aster species)
Monarda punctata
Oriental poppy (Papaver orientale)
Persicaria amplexicaule
Rudbeckia species
Salvia x superba
Scabious (Scabiosa species)
Sea hollies (Eryngium species)
Sidalcea malviflora
Thrift (Armeria maritima)
Verbena bonariensis
Veronica longifolia
White horehound (Marrubium vulgare)

Bulbs and corms

Allium species
Autumn crocus (Colchicum species)
Crocus species
Fritillaries (Fritillaria species)
Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)
Grape hyacinth (Muscari species)
Hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis)
Siberian squill (Scilla siberica)
Snowdrops (Galanthus species)
Snowflakes (Leucojum and Acis species)
Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Vegetables and culinary herbs

Brassicas left to flower
Broad bean
Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis)
Marjoram (Origanum species)
Marrow and other cucurbits
Mint (Mentha species)
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Runner bean
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
Thyme (Thymus species)

Trees and shrubs

Almond (Prunus dulcis)
Apple, including ornamental Malus
Barberry (Berberis species)
Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata)
Box (Buxus sempervirens)
Brooms (Cytisus species)
Ceanothus species (spring-flowering types)
Cherry, including single-flowered ornamental types
Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus)
Christmas box (Sarcococca species)
Clematis cirrhosa
Cotoneaster species
Currants, red, black, white and ornamental Ribes species
Daisy bush (Olearia species)
Daphne mezereum
Dogwood (Cornus alba)
Enkianthus campanulatus
Escallonia hybrids
False acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia)
Firethorn (Pyracantha cultivars)
Fuchsia species
Gaultheria shallon
Gorse (Ulex species)
Hawthorns (Crataegus species)
Hazel (Corylus avellana)
Heather (Calluna vulgaris)
Heathers (Erica species)
Hebe species
Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
Horse chestnuts (Aesculus species)
Hypericum species
Indian bean tree (Catalpa bignonioides)
Ivy (Hedera helix)
Japanese quince (Chaenomeles speciosa and C. x superba)
Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum)
Koelreuteria paniculata
Lavender (Lavandula species)
Lime (Tilia species) - note Tilia tomentosa ‘Petiolaris’ nectar is sometimes harmful to bumblebees
Lonicera × purpusii
Mahonia aquifolium
Maples (Acer species)
Mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia)
Orange ball buddleia (Buddleja globosa)
Pear and ornamental Pyrus species
Perovskia atriplicifolia
Potentilla fruticosa
Rock rose (Helianthemum species)
Rose - single-flowered species types (Rosa species)
Snowberry (Symphoricarpos species)
Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)
Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)
Sweet bay (Laurus nobilis)
Tetradium daniellii
Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)
Weigela florida and hybrids
Willows, male forms, especially goat willow (Salix caprea)

Wild flowers

Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis)
Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)
Burdock (Arctium lappa)
Charlock (Sinapis arvensis)
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Clovers (Trifolium species)
Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Devil's bit scabious (Succisa pratensis)
Field scabious (Knautia arvensis)
Figworts (Scrophularia species)
Hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum)
Hogweed (Heracleum sphondylium)
Horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis comosa)
Knapweeds (Centaurea species)
Knotgrasses (Polygonum species)
Lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)
Mallows (Malva species)
Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)
Meadow clary (Salvia pratensis)
Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
Poppies (Papaver species)
Purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria)
Red deadnettle (Lamium purpureum)
Rose bay willowherb (Epilobium angustifolium)
Teasel (Dipsacus fullonum)
Thistles (Cirsium species)
Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)
Traveller's joy (Clematis vitalba)
Valerian (Valeriana officinalis)
Viper's bugloss (Echium vulgare)
White bryony (Bryonia dioica)
White melilot (Melilotus alba)
Yellow melilot (M. officinalis)
Yellow trefoil (Trifolium dubium)