While speaking with a gardening friend this past weekend, he asked me what spring blooming bulbs would be best for attracting bees. This friend of mine certainly put a bee in my bonnet, as it affirmed my thoughts on the important role bees play in our world.  Most flowers are pollinated by insects as opposed to wind, and this pollination is necessary for the reproduction of seeds and blooms on fruits, vegetables, and flowering plants. Not only is it vital to a plant’s survival, but pollen is also necessary for the reproduction of more bees, as bees feed off of pollen as a necessary protein.

Many gardeners may not think of spring blooming bulbs for attracting these pollinators to their garden, however there are 3 types of spring blooming bulbs that are, in my opinion, “the bee’s knees” when it comes to pollination. First to bloom in spring in our top 3 is the spring crocus. Our favorite crocus for attracting bees are the Ruby Giant Species Crocus and King of the Striped Giant Crocus. The purple sheen of their petals attracts these mighty pollinators, which ultimately leads them to the pollen.  Next in the spring to bloom are the grape hyacinth with dainty bell-shaped blooms which boast of a sweet fragrance that helps to attract bees to their pollen. Finishing off our top three spring blooming pollinators, are the tulips, which bloom from early to late spring depending on the variety. If you have ever looked into the center of a tulip you will notice the black anthers that are usually covered in pollen, oftentimes in such great quantities that it’s dust covers the inner petals as well. The best types of tulips for attracting bees are found in varying shades of violet. Bees are able to see the ultraviolet rays these petals produce when reflected in the sun. My favorite bee-attracting tulips are Purple Prince Single Early Tulips, Blue Ribbon Triumph Tulips, and the last to bloom Bleu Amiable Single Late Tulips.

You may be thinking after reading this, “Why in the world would I want more bees in my yard? They sting and that usually hurts when it happens!” I used to think this way, too because I was only stung as a child and the pain seemed unbearable. A couple of years ago, while working at a local garden center, I got stung 3 times in a year all by worker bees, nothing serious like a hornet, and I hardly noticed it happen. The truth is, honey bees as well as bumble bees rarely sting. When these bees are hard at work gathering pollen to make honey, they usually are much more focused on their work than you. Even if you are still somewhat afraid of bees, their role in our world is priceless and the small amount of pain you may feel after a sting is nothing compared to their worth. So let’s get out there and attract some bees!

Life is the flower for which love is the honey.
~ Victor Hugo

Keep Gardening,

Lynn Arndt
Certified Horitculturist – Guest Blogger