In the Yard

Rhonda Hayes is a garden writer, photographer and blogger. She also volunteers as a Hennepin County Master Gardener. Rhonda chronicles her gardening adventures and advice at her award-winning blog, The Garden Buzz. She is a frequent contributor to Northern Gardener magazine and the Star Tribune Home + Garden section. At Your Voices, she writes about life around the city lakes, occasionally veering off the garden path with essays on the silly and serious issues of the day.

Top Ten Bee-Friendly Tips: #3-Plant an Herb Garden and Let Half of It Bloom

Posted by: Rhonda Hayes Updated: May 12, 2014 - 12:38 PM

For years I’ve been saying that herbs are the best plants anyone can grow. They’re easy and forgiving. They’re tasty and fragrant. They’re beautiful. And one more thing, they’re great for bees.

Plant an herb garden and let it grow for a while. Pinch and pluck the leaves for any number of uses, like cooking or cosmetics, eat the flowers, eat the foliage, go for it, because most herbs love to be sheared and pruned; the act of harvesting actually makes them grow fuller and bushier.

Then do something for the bees. Stop snipping and picking half of the herbs, or more if you’re feeling generous, and allow them to bloom. Herbs are always trying to bloom, you’ll see their stems start to lengthen like in the case of oregano or sometimes the leaves grow smaller and even change shape, as does basil or mint. Pretty soon the flowers will be covered with bees.

Bees love herb blooms because many consist of lots of little florets, perfectly shaped for browsing and foraging. When bees can work over a large number of blooms in a small area, it helps them to save energy while increasing the amount of nectar they can consume. Herbs save them from making extra trips back to the hive and that’s a good thing.

Bee on fennel flowers

Yes, herbs are easy to grow. But some gardening publications will say they thrive on neglect. It is true that established plants can survive without much attention, but whether planted in the ground or in containers a new herb garden needs care at first; lots of sunlight, well-drained soil and adequate water. (And no matter what you see on Pinterest, you can’t grow herbs in Mason jars. Without a hole for water to drain, they will quickly rot.)

Here’s a list of herbs to start your bee-friendly garden. Get bzzzzy!

Lemon balm                              

Lavender

Anise hyssop

Hyssop

Borage

Germander

Sage

Savory

Chamomile

Rosemary

Dill

Thyme

Dandelion

Basil

Oregano

Fennel

Mint

 

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