PLANT the right flowers in your garden and they will come!

The Honey Bee

The Honey Bee

Right, I’ve been banging on about this for far too long so here is a shout out to all of you who are fortunate enough to own a garden and therefore are able to do something about it. Whether you live in the country or the city, have a garden or a window-box, you can give the bees what they need – pollen and nectar. The pollen (high in protein) is for the young ones and they concentrate the nectar from flowers to make honey in their hives.

The honey bee and the humble Bumble bee are responsible for pollinating a whopping 70% of our favourite fruit and vegetables, boosting crop yields in farms across the UK and in our own gardens. “It is estimated that one third of the food we consume each day relies on pollination mainly by bees but also by insects, birds and bats” (

Bumble Bee

Bumble Bee

The Bumble bee is also a pollinator of food crops

Honey is good for you

  • It includes vitamins B6, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and contains minerals; calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc.
  • Honey is a much healthier choice than processed sugar
  • It has a low Glycemic index – sugars are gradually absorbed resulting in better digestion
  • It boosts your immune system with natural anti-oxidants
  • It helps keep cholesterol levels in check
  • In cosmetics it hydrates and rejuvenates your skin

But Bees are in danger!

As a consequence of pesticides and insecticides used in intensive farming, lethal parasites, and a huge reduction in flower-rich habitats, bee numbers have fallen by about 50% in the last 25 years across the US and UK.

98% of wild flower meadows, invaluable for bees, have been lost over the last 80 years.

A worker bee will fly up to 3 miles from the hive to collect pollen and nectar from plants so don’t imagine you will be planting for no reward! Also urban honey can be of a higher quality than rural honey due to the wide diversity of planting in our cities’ parks and gardens.

RHS recommended plants for attracting bees into your garden (common plants in bold)



Borage (Borago officinalis); buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum); Californian poppy (Eschscholzia californica); candytuft (Iberis spp.); China aster (Callistephus chinensis); larkia (Clarkia spp.); cornflower (Centaurea cyanus); cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus); forget-me-not (Myosotis spp.); Gilia capitata; godetia (Clarkia spp.); heliotrope (Heliotropium arborescens); love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena); mignonette (Reseda odorata); Nemophila menziesii; Phacelia spp.; poached egg plant (Limnanthes douglasii); sunflower (Helianthus annuus); sweet sultan (Amberboa moschata); zinnia (Zinnia elegans).


PIC 3 Hollyhock

French honeysuckle (Hedysarum coronarium); hollyhock – single flowered (Alcea rosea); honesty (Lunaria annua); wallflower (Erysimum spp.).


PIC 4 Dahlia

Agastache foeniculum; Alyssum spp.; Anchusa azurea; Arabis spp.; Aubrieta spp.; bellflowers (Campanula spp.); catmints (Nepeta spp.); cranesbill (Geranium spp.); dahlia single-flowered cultivars; fleabane (Erigeron spp.); Geum spp.; globe artichoke (Cynara cardunculus); globe thistle (Echinops ritro); golden rod (Solidago spp.); Gypsophila paniculata; Helenium spp.; hellebores (Helleborus spp.); ice plant (Sedum spectabile); Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium caeruleum); Japanese anemone (Anemone × hybrida); lambs’ ears (Stachys byzantina); leopard’s bane (Doronicum spp.); Liatris spicata; lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.); Michaelmas daisies (Aster spp.); oriental poppy (Papaver orientale); Monarda punctata; Persicaria amplexicaulis; Rudbeckia spp.; Salvia × superba; scabious (Scabiosa spp.); sea hollies (Eryngium spp.); Sidalcea malviflora; thrift (Armeria maritima); Veronica longifolia; white horehound (Marrubium vulgare); Verbena bonariensis.


Allium spp.; autumn crocus (Colchicum spp.); Crocus spp.; fritillaries (Fritillaria spp.); glory of the snow (Chionodoxa spp.); grape hyacinth (Muscari spp.); hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis); Siberian squill (Scilla siberica); snowdrops (Galanthus spp.); snowflakes (Leucojum/Acis spp.); winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis).


Asparagus; brassicas left to flower; broad bean; hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis); marjoram (Origanum spp.); marrow and other cucurbits; mint (Mentha spp.); rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis); runner bean; sage (Salvia officinalis); thyme (Thymus spp.).



Almond (Prunus dulcis); apple, including ornamental Malus; barberry (Berberis spp.); blackberry; blackthorn (Prunus spinosa); Boston ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata); box (Buxus sempervirens); brooms (Cytisus spp.); Caryopteris; Ceanothus spp. (Spring-flowering types); cherry, including single-flowered ornamental types; cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus); Christmas box (Sarcococca spp.); Clematis cirrhosa; Cotoneaster spp.; currants, red, black, white and ornamental Ribes spp.; daisy bush (Olearia spp.); Daphne mezereum; dogwood (Cornus alba); Enkianthus campanulatus; Escallonia hybrids; false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia); firethorn (Pyracantha cultivars); Fuchsia spp.; gooseberry; gorse (Ulex spp.); hawthorns (Crataegus spp.); hazel (Corylus avellana); heather (Calluna vulgaris); heathers (Erica spp.); Hebe spp.; holly (Ilex aquifolium); horse chestnuts (Aesculus spp.); Hypericum spp.; Indian bean tree (Catalpa bignonioides); ivy (Hedera helix); Japanese quince (Chaenomeles speciosa and C. × superba); Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum); Koelreuteria paniculata; lavender (Lavandula spp.); lime (Tilia spp. but T. ‘Petiolaris’ and sometimes T. tomentosa, T. tomentosa ‘Orbicularis’ and T. cordata nectar is toxic to bumble bees); loganberry; Lonicera × purpusii; Mahonia aquifolium; maples (Acer spp.); mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia); orange ball buddleia (Buddleja globosa); pear and ornamental Pyrus spp.; Perovskia atriplicifolia; plums; Potentilla fruticosa; raspberry; rock rose (Helianthemum spp.); rose – single-flowered species and cultivars (Rosa spp.); snowberry (Symphoricarpos spp.); strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo); sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus); sweet bay (Laurus nobilis); Tetradium daniellii; Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia); Weigela florida and hybrids; willows, male forms, especially goat willow (Salix caprea).


Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis); birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus); burdock (Arctium lappa); charlock (Sinapis arvensis); chickweed (Stellaria media); clovers (Trifolium spp.); coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara); dandelion (Taraxacum officinale); devil’s bit scabious (Succisa pratensis); field scabious (Knautia arvensis); figworts (Scrophularia spp.); hemp agrimony (Eupatorium cannabinum); horseshoe vetch (Hippocrepis comosa); knapweeds (Centaurea spp.); knotgrasses (Polygonum spp.); lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria); mallows (Malva spp.); marsh marigold (Caltha palustris); meadow clary (Salvia pratensis); meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria); poppies (Papaver spp.); purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria); red deadnettle (Lamium purpureum); rose bay willowherb (Chamerion angustifolium); teasel (Dipsacus fullonum); thistles (Cirsium spp.); toadflax (Linaria vulgaris); traveller’s joy (Clematis vitalba); valerian (Valeriana officinalis); viper’s bugloss (Echium vulgare); white bryony (Bryonia dioica); white melilot (Melilotus albus); yellow melilot (M. officinalis); yellow trefoil (Trifolium dubium).



Here are some plants that are actually toxic to bees and/or contaminate honey.

  1. Rhododendron
  2. Azalea
  3. Incarvillea (Trumpet flower)
  4. Oleander
  5. Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel)
  6. Lilium orientalis (Stargazer Lily)
  7. Helliconia
  8. Amaryllis

References: RHS,

WHERE TO BUY HONEY – my selection