SBKA Plants for Honey Bees

compiled by Tim Newcombe


A BIG thankyou to those (below) who contributed to the survey.

David Jones, John Chambers, Chris Boylan, Bill Wealsby, Mike Sanderson, Steve Turner.

Note that

  •  Flowering periods are variable
  •  Plants require optimum conditions in order to thrive , the right blend of soil, position and sun, so could be unsuccessful without these criteria.
  •  Bees require continuous and varied food, both pollen and nectar, throughout the season (+ water and propolis!)
  •  This list is not meant to be comprehensive. The aim is to find plants which we know locally to be attractive specifically to honey bees. Most internet information refers to bee friendly plants. As we know the honey bee has a relatively short proboscis to other bees (and pollinators), and can only obtain nectar from open, shallow flowers. Sometimes the bumble bees make a hole at the flower base which provides a short-cut to the nectaries, when honey bees can also benefit.
    (Comparative length of proboscis: Honey Bees 7 mm, Bumble Bees 7-13 mm, Small Tortoiseshell 14 mm )
  •  For much more you can go to the BBKA ‘Gardening for bees’ website page, or consult the excellent book by Kirk and Howes ‘Plants for Bees’.
  •  Inevitably mistakes have been made in this compilation. If you notice any, or could enlighten me with further details, please let me know.

Plants Symbols. P=POLLEN, N=NECTAR

Alkanet (Common Bugloss)/Anchusa officinalis (Jun-Sep) N

Allium (Jun-Aug) N

Anemone blanda  (late winter onwards) P

Anemone nemorosa (March – May) P

Anise Hyssop/Agastache foeniculum (Jun-Oct) N

Apple/Malus pumila (Apr-May) PN

Crab Apple (Apr-May) N P

Asters / including Michaelmas Daisies (Jul-Oct )NP

Aster amellus (July-Oct)

Aster dumosus (Sept-Oct)

Field Bean/Vicia faba (Mar-July) PN

Broad Bean and Runner Bean (N only if made available by Bumblebees)

Berberis (May-June) PN

Blackberry/Rubus fruticosus (May-Sept) PN

Blackthorn/Prunus spinosa (Feb-May) PN

Borage/Borago officinalis (Apr-Nov) PN

Box/Boxus sempervirens (March-May) PN

Sweet Box/Sarcococca confusa (Dec-March)

Buckwheat (pollinator cover crop)/Fagopyrum esculentum (Jun-Aug) PN

Buddleia globosa (May-Oct) PN (difficult for honeybees to access)

Campanula (June-Oct) PN

Catmint/Nepita cataria (May-Sept) N

Choisya ternate (Spring and Autumn) ?

Clover, Sweet (pollinator cover crop)/various mellilots and (Melilotus officinalis, yellow

flowered and Meliltus albus, white flowered) (Jun-Sep)

White Clover /Trifolium repens(Jun-Sept) PN

Comfrey/Symphtyum officinale (Mar-Jun) PN ( N only if made available by BB’s)

Cotoneaster: (May-Jul) N

Cranesbill/Geranium pratense (May-Sept) PN

Crocus: (Feb-Mar) PN (cannot always reach N)

Currant/Ribes sanguinium (Apr-May) PN

Dandelion (Mar-Oct) P N

False Acacia/Robinia pseudoacacia ( June) PN (Only worked in warm weather)

False Acacia/Robinia pseudoacacia (’Semperflorens’ has longer flowering period) N

Goldenrod /Solidago virgaurea(July-Oct) PN

Hawthorn/Crataegus monogyna (Midland Hawthorn C. laevigata)( May-Jun) PN

Hazel P

Heather/ Calluna vulgaris (Aug-Sept) PN

Heath/Erica cinerea, Erica tetralix (Mar-Sept) N

Hebe (May-Jul) PN

Christmas Rose/Helleborus niger  (Dec-Apr) P

Lenten Rose/Helleborus orientalis (Spring) P

Horse chestnut (Apr-Jun) PN

Hyssop/Hyssopus officinalis (Jun-Oct) PN

Ivy (Sept–Nov) PN

Laurels below (Apr-Jun) PN

Cherry Laurel/Prunus laurocerasus

Portugal Laurel/Prunus lusitanica

Bay Laurel//Laurus nobilis

Lavender/Lavandula angustifolia (Jun-Aug) N

Lavatera (Jun-Sep) PN

Lime(Many varieties) (Jun-Jul) N

Magnolia stellata (Apr-May) P

Mahonia undulata   (Feb-Apr) P

Wild marjoram/Oregano vulgare (July-Sept) N

Mint especially Spearmint/Mentha spicata (May-Oct) N

Motherwort/Leonurus cardiac (Jul-Sep) PN

Mustard, White/Sinapis alba (agricultural variety /pollinator cover crop)May-Sep) PN

Muscari/Grape Hyacinths (Mar-May) PN

Oil seed rape PN

Papaver orientale (May-Oct) N

Pear/Pyrus communis (Apr-May) PN

Persicaria amplexicaulis  (July-Oct) N

Phacelia /Phacelia tanacetifolia (Apr-Dec) PN

Poached egg plant/ Limnanthes douglasii (Apr-Sept) PN

Plum/Prunus domestica (Apr-May) PN

Prunus subhirella autumnalis (Nov-Mar) P

Pulmonaria    (Mar-May) P (Cannot reach N)

Purple Loosestrife/ Lythrum salicaria (June-Aug) PN

Raspberry (Jun–Aug) PN

Rowan tree (especially the white one): (May-Jun) PN

Rosemary/Rosmarinus officinalis (Mar-Jun) N

Rudbeckia (July-Oct) N

Rosebay willowherb/Chamerion angustifolium (Jul-Sep) PN

Sainfoin/Onobrychis viciifolia (May-Sep) PN

Russian Sage/Perovskia atriplicifolia (Jul-Oct)

Scabious (July-Aug) PN

Scillas – Scilla siberica (Feb-Apr) PN

Sedum: ( Jul-Sept) N

Sedum spectabile

Snowberry/Symphoricarpos albus (Jun-Aug) N

Snowdrop/Galunthus nivalis: (Jan-Mar) P N

Sunflower/Helianthus annuus (Aug-Oct) PN

Sycamore (Apr-Jun) PN

Veronica longfolia (Mar-Sept) P

Viburnum tinus       (Oct-Apr) P

Violet/Viola odorata (Mar-May) N

Vipers Bugloss /Echium vulgare (Jun-Jul) N

Virginia Mallow/Sida hermaphrodita

Goat/Pussy Willow (Mar-Apr) P

Willow/ Salix. S. hastate (Feb-Mar) N P

Willows   (Feb-May) PN

Winter aconite/Eranthis hyemalis (Jan-March) PN

Perennial Yellow Woundwort/Stachys recta (Jul-Sep) N


Blue Sow thistle/Cicerbita bourgaei  (June-Aug) ?