Herbs provide a valuable source of food for bees and other pollinating insects. Since bees have lost much of their natural habitat, growing a few herbs is a really easy way to enjoy fresh flavors and help our bees.
You may or may not have space for a large kitchen herb garden, but most people can squeeze in a few herbs at least somewhere, even if they only have a yard, balcony, hanging basket or doorstep for pots. You could create a container herb garden, or a window herb garden.
Of course, herbs not only help pollinators, they have many uses for humans too: cooking, medicinal uses, fragrance, not to mention their beauty and versatility in the garden. Also, a pot of herbs makes a lovely gift and can be prepared easily at home. Home-made gifts such as these are increasingly appreciated – and not only by gardeners. This is a great way to help bees and give an environmentally friendly gift to a neighbor.
There is a great variety of wild and cultivated herbs out there and many herbs are among the best plants for bees. Here is a list of herbs and how they can benefit bees:
Pretty herb loved by a variety of bees and hover flies.
Another great butterfly plant.
Borage refills with nectar every 2 minutes … this is exceptionally fast. No wonder all kinds of bees love it!
Good for the bees, but cats like it too!
Chives are easy to grow from seed. They start out with just a few stems, but soon fill out.
Another excellent flower for bees – refills with nectar approximately every 45 minutes. Bumblebees and solitary bees feed on it, as well as honey bees.
Also popular with seed-eating birds and hover flies, as well as bees.
Attracts bees and butterflies.
Choose different varieties for a prolonged season. You can propagate more plants from cuttings, but ensure you take quite a few as they may not all ‘take’.
In the past, beekeepers would rub a handful of lemon balm inside the hive after hiving a new swarm, in order to help the swarm settle and to encourage them not to leave the hive.
Another fragrant, excellent culinary herb loved by bees and other pollinators.
Gorgeous shrub loved by bees and other insects.
Bees love the flowers and some beekeepers apply mint oil diluted with water to their beehives to deter the wax moth.
Excellent early food source for bees. It is reputedly helpful in repelling ‘pest’ invertebrates, despite the fact that bees enjoy foraging on it.
The sage family of plants are wonderful for bees and other pollinators.
Thyme can also be used to create a small patch of lawn; the fragrance and look are beautiful. Butterflies like thyme too.
Often referred to as ‘bee balm’. Long tongued bees especially, enjoy this pretty herb.
Quite pretty flowers loved by bees, in appearance, slightly resembling the nettle. The fragrance is not very pleasant, but the bees do love it!
Note–If you are purchasing ready grown herb plants rather than growing from seed, please try to purchase from an organic supplier to ensure they have not been cultivated with the use of an insecticide that is toxic for bees – particularly a neonicotinoid.