Before you dig them in, make sure you start with few bee-friendly bulbs.
Plant bulbs that attract bees this autumn because spring will be here before you know it! By the end of February, honey is in short supply in the bee’s hives. Survival for bees and their queen is dependent on getting nectar and pollen as early as possible. You can make it easier for bees to find food when you plant a wide variety of bee-friendly bulbs that will start blooming in early spring and continue throughout the summer. Bee’s are attracted to nectar with large amounts of sugar and flower colors that are white, yellow or blue. You’ll be rewarded with buzzing bees, small and large, in a landscape planted with their favorite bulbs.
Early Spring Flowering Bulbs that Attract Bees
Snowdrops (Galanthus spp.): These first flowers of spring are so exciting to see… especially when the nodding white flowers are found under an early spring snow. Bees are just starting to look for nectar at this time-- when the temperatures are starting to warm but before the dandelions are blooming. Good for shade.
Crocus (Crocus spp.): Short and hardy crocus are all time favorites. Plant abundantly in groupings so the bees won’t have far to travel to sip nectar and spread a dusting of golden pollen. Plant in sun to part shade… in the garden or lawn.
Siberian Squill (Scilla siberica): Siberian squill will run a blue river through your garden or lawn, so plan accordingly. The tiny bulbs are easy to plant and reward you in numbers as they naturalize through the years. Heavenly blue or deeper violet flowers nod daintily on slim stems and grassy leaves… only about 6” tall. Very hardy.
Mid-Spring Flowering Bulbs that Attract Bees
Red Crown Imperial (Fritillaria imperialis): These incredible Crown Imperial plants create some attention in the garden. The plants (with flowers) mature from 2 to 3 ft. tall with quirky clusters of bell-shaped red or orange flowers that face downward. With the added green, spiky leaves on top, it is reminiscent of a cockatoo. What a unique choice for northern gardens with good drainage. Plant in full sun. Deer and squirrels resistant.
Grape Hyacinth (Muscari spp.): Bees love this bulb with blue-purple flowers in grape-like clusters. The narrow, grass-like foliage is so welcome in spring and the scented flowers are the cherry on top of the sundae. Plant in gardens or in containers, too.
Hyacinth (Hyacinth): You can usually smell the sweet perfume of a hyacinth before you see them. They bloom the same time as daffodils and come I a rainbow of colors including pink, rose, apricot, lavender, blue and deep purple, cream and white. Once the leaves start to emerge, it takes about three weeks for flowers to open. Plant bulbs in full sun, light shade or half day of sun.
Checkered Lily Fritillaria (Fritillaria meleagris): Right out of ‘Alice in Wonderland’s’ mid-spring garden--a bit of whimsy as the purple and lilac checkered flowers unfolds. At only 10” tall, they are a perfect choice for walkways or the front of garden beds. Adaptable in a range of full sun to half shade. Best of all, bees love them and deer & squirrels don’t.
Late-Spring Flowering Bulbs that Attract Bees
Allium (Allium spp.): So many allium…so little time. So, there’s no excuse not to plant a few. Bees aren’t picky as far as the size of flowers—from the dainty, chive flowers to the jumbo purple globes of Allium ‘Purple Suze’. Plant bulbs abundantly in sunny locations—in a large grouping or in smaller pockets throughout the garden and throughout the seasons. Bumblebees love them!
Dutch Iris (Iris x hollandica): These classic Iris flowers bloom in bright colors of dark purple, lilac blue, sunny yellow and bright white. The shape of the flower provides a special place to land for pollinators. If you want flowers for your vase, you’ll have to plant extras so both you and the bees will be satisfied.
Wood Hyacinth (Hyacinthoides hispanica): As woodland flowers, and also known as Spanish bluebells, they will naturalize to paint large swaths of blue flowers in late spring.
The bell shape of the flowers and their positioning on the flower spike make it easy for bees to find the nectar. The flower stems grow up to 18” tall from April to early May.