Advice from the Offshoots project - 5 must have bee-friendly plants for your garden

05 October 2014

Find out what plants you can grow to attract bees into your garden.

Did you know? ... There are over 250 different species of bee in the UK and one in every three bites of food you eat is pollinated by a honey bee.

Bees are in decline in the UK and have been having a hard time recently.  The reasons for this are various but include: 

  • the use of insecticides
  • a small mite called varroa that attacks honey bees
  • a decline in their natural foraging environment
  • the wonderful British weather, which in recent years has affected their foraging
  • a general lack of understanding about bees.

There are things we can do to help however.  The simplest way is to plant bee friendly flowers in your garden, which will provide them with nectar and pollen.  Some flowers are more attractive to bees than others.  Here are 5 of our favourite bee flowers at Offshoots:

1.  Vipers Bugloss (Echium vulgare) – this is one of the best plants you can put in your garden for honey bees and is an annual.

Vipers Bugloss

2.  Poached Egg Plant (Limnanthes douglasii) – another excellent annual for honey bees.  It gives a fantastic display of flowers in early summer.

Poached egg plant

3.  Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) – a bi-annual that flowers throughout summer and is particularly attractive to bumblebees.


4.  Phacelia tanacetifolia – a super all-rounder – loved by bees but also by beneficial insects, hoverflys, lacewings and ladybirds (that will munch on any aphids in your garden).  It’s also a green manure which can be dug into the soil to improve the organic structure.

Phacelia tanacetifolia

5.  Cotoneaster – an excellent perennial shrub which is attractive to many different types of bee.


There are many different sources of information on the internet for bee friendly plants.  Two particularly good ones are:

British Beekeepers Association 

Royal Horticultural Society

If we plant our gardens with bee friendly plants, not only are we increasing the natural foraging areas for our bees, but we’re also increasing their food source and chances for long-term survival.


Our current bee project at Offshoots, Bees Beyond the Borough, is working towards the conservation of the British black honey bee.  The project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.


We have lots of bee friendly plants growing all around our Offshoots site – why not come and take a look? It’s free to visit and everyone’s welcome!


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. 

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