This year I seriously thought about starting bee keeping, but decided that this just isn’t the year. Maybe when the twinadoes are older and able to actually listen and follow when I say “no touch!”. So for now I’ll be happy with my Mason bees and doing what I can to attract bees to my yard with flowers, plants, and herbs.
I thought it would be fun to do a few posts on just that, attracting bees to your yard using what you grow. Because I started some herb seeds this week, that’s what I will write about first. When I lived in apartments and didn’t have a yard for a vegetable garden (except for a patio tomato plant or two) I would grow herbs. They don’t take up a lot of room, most do well in containers, and they actually serve a purpose. Perennial herbs that always found their way to my herb box were thyme, sage, oregano, rosemary and chives. Basil, parsley, and cilantro were the staples for my annual herb box.
Ever since the herb box from my first apartment I’ve always had fresh herbs. It’s so nice to be able to walk out the door and snip what you need rather than buying them at the store in those plastic containers. I was shocked when I saw how much they sell them for.
Back in my apartment days attracting bees was not even on my radar. It wasn’t until I really started getting into gardening and reading up on bees, their importance, and how they are declining that I made a conscious effort to grow a large variety for that sole purpose. Luckily, my list of herbs, which has grown since then, are great at attracting the pollinating rock stars.
Mint…oh my mint. Is it a coincidence that mint and mojito both start with “m”? It’s quite invasive so be prepared to keep tabs on it or you will have a yard that is all mint. Go to a nursery and you will be amazed at the varieties, such as chocolate and pineapple, of this wonderfully smelling herb. Lemon balm is simply deliciously smelling, I mean can you really go wrong with a natural lemon scent? I used to have a cat that would lay in the lemon balm during the summer, he was the best smelling cat ever!! Cat mint and cat nip are also under the mint family, not as pleasant in scent but fun for the cats.
So may varieties of basil, but for me, I stick with Thai, lemon, and Italian Genovese. I go through basil like crazy! What’s not to love about this stuff? Sometimes I do have to make a conscious effort to leave a few stems to flower though…
Rosemary. Here in the pacific northwest it can be a little temperamental. I have some plants that have made it through the winter, where another that sits right next to it does not. No matter, it’s just one of those great herbs to have. The flowers are really pretty so I definitely don’t mind letting this one bloom. I have one plant that is fairly large, in the summer when you get within a foot of it you can hear the buzzing noise of all the bees. Such a beautiful noise.
Dill is so useful to me, I wish I could grow it year round. When I plant dill I really just scatter seeds here and there with no rhyme or reason. It looks so pretty mixed in with flowers that I try and grow some just to let flower, but most get used in the kitchen.
Thyme. This is such a hardy herb and it can be divided into smaller plants when the plant gets big. Wherever the plant extends and sits on dirt it will grow roots, you can then separate that part from the main plant, giving you a whole new plant. Use it fresh or dried, you see it in so many recipes. This is another herb with several varieties, smell the lemon thyme sometime, again… natural lemon, how can you go wrong? The flowers are small and delicate, but pretty. Bees will be all over this plant.
Oregano is one of the few herbs I prefer to use dried rather than fresh. Though not as bad as the mint, it does like to spread out. Once it goes to seed you will soon see little oregano plants everywhere!! Of course I definitely don’t mind that.
Lemon Verbena, though not technically an herb, should be mentioned here. It’s actually a flowering shrub that smells like lemon (notice my love of lemon scented plants?). I cannot go a growing season without this wonderful shrub, I’ve even managed to winter one over.
This is just the list of herbs that I grow, there are a few others that bees love such as borage and St. John’s Wart that I didn’t mention. Look online or chat up your local nursery for other ideas, not just for herbs but other plants, flowers, and shrubs.
Next up…flowers that make bees buzz!!