LBN Weekly Eco Tip #6
Native and non-invasive plants throughout Canada that you can plant in your garden (or balcony garden) to attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.
Our mission is to cultivate change through food, and what better way than to start at the source?
Learn how to help bee populations survive this growing season from the comfort of your own home!
Why are bees essential for our food systems and biodiversity health?
It is alarming, then, that Greenpeace estimates that “bee colonies per hectare has declined by 90 percent since 1962.”
Our friends over at Maisie Jane’s California Sunshine are concerned about bee populations as well, and have partnered with the Xerces Society and The Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility to help promote bee conservation.
Maisie Jane’s family owned and operated farm relies on bees to produce their delicious natural and organic nut products. They’re the bee’s knees!
How can we help from home?
If you have a backyard, community garden, or even a balcony garden, there are plant varieties that are attractive to bees and pollinators, which will help sustain their colonies and will in turn help local crops grow!
What kind of flowers do bees like?
Help feed the bees by growing flowers with plenty of nectar. Wildflowers that are native to your area, or are non-invasive, have good amounts of nectar and pollen that bees need.
Find tips and articles from the David Suzuki Foundation
Bee-friendly flowers found across Canada
This handy guide from Planting Forage for Honey Bees in Canada, by Pollinator Partnership Canada lists specific varieties of flowers that attract honey bees, including which region of Canada they can be grown in, and their soil and light preferences.
Below is a sample of flowers from the guide that can be grown anywhere in Canada!
Latin: Helianthus annuus, Helianthus maximiliani, Heliopsis helianthoides
Depending on your variety of sunflower, these giant summer flowers can grow between 1.5′ and 10′ tall! They usually prefer dry to moderately moist soil. Check to see the specific soil preferences for the sunflowers you want to grow.
Latin: Borago officinalis
This star-shaped blue flowered plant grows between 1-3′ tall in the sun or partial shade. It prefers clay, sandy, or loamy soil that is dry to moist, and well drained. You can eat both the leaves and flowers. According to Friends of the Earth UK, borage leaves taste similar to cucumber, while the flowers are sweet and honey-like.
Latin: Chamerion angustifolium
Also called Great Willowherb or Saint Anthony’s Laurel, this magenta perennial will grow up to 6′ tall! It prefers full sun, and grows best in sandy or loamy soil that is dry to moist and well drained. Fireweed is edible! Find out how to eat fireweed from Edible Alaska.
Anise or Giant Hyssop
Latin: Agastache foeniculum
The giant hyssop has recognizable blue-purple cone-like flowers. The plant grows between 2-4′ tall and prefers dry, well-drained sandy soil with sun or partial shade. Hyssop is edible! Friends of the Earth UK says “Hyssop is strong, so use sparingly. Young leaves go well with oily fish such as mackerel or sardines, with new potatoes and a salad of watercress and rocket.”
Rocky Mountain Bee Plant
Latin: Cleome serrulata
Standing up to around 3′ tall, these white, cream, or pink coloured flowers enjoy sun to partial shade in sandy or loam soil that is dry to moist and well drained.
Latin: Erigeron annuus, Erigeron compositus, Erigeron divergens, Erigeron philadelphicus, Erigeron strigosus.
These tiny daisies are a Spring staple, with different varieties found across Canada. Though they can grow up to around 3′ tall, they often prefer to stay in small clumps on lawns, in sidewalk cracks, or in sandy, sunny areas. Check to see the specific conditions your variety of fleabane prefers.
Grow Herbs for Bees
If you only have a small growing space, herbs are an excellent source of nutrition for both you and our bee friends!
Grow herbs in your garden, balcony or another space where bees can easily reach them.
Here’s a list of herbs that bees love, from Friends of the Earth UK:
- Lemon Balm
Create positive environmental change through food, and help save our pollinator superheroes all from your backyard!
Have more tips and suggestions?
Send us a message!
The David Suzuki Foundation – https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/create-pollinator-friendly-garden-birds-bees-butterflies/
Friends of the Earth UK – https://friendsoftheearth.uk/bees/best-herbs-for-bees
Planting Forage for Honey Bees in Canada by Pollinator Partnership Canada – http://www.flowerscanadagrowers.com/uploads/2017/04/planting%20guide%20-%20final%20(1).pdf
BC Farms & Food – https://bcfarmsandfood.com/plant-a-bee-attracting-garden/
Canadian Wildlife Federation – https://cwf-fcf.org/en/resources/DIY/habitat-projects/map-your-backyard/plant-for-bees-butterflies.html
Native Plants for Pollinators by Credit Valley Conservation – https://cvc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/17-uo-nativeplantsforpollinators-booklet-v8-web.pdf
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