Native Flowering Plants that Attract Bees and Other Pollinators

native pollinator flowering plants

Native Flowering Pollinators

There are many native flowers that attract bees and other pollinators. Includes a list of native plants for North America.

The post Native Flowering Plants that Attract Bees and Other Pollinators appeared first on Big Blog Of Gardening.

new york aster
New York Aster is native to Eastern North America and is a favorite of native bees.

By now, every gardener is aware – and hopefully non-gardeners too – that bees are essential for pollinating flowers and other plants, including many food crops. Besides bees, plants are also pollinated by wind, gravity, water, flies, butterflies, birds, bats, moths, beetles, and wasps. Here, we’ll focus on insects and bees and the flowers that attract them (native trees and shrubs are also sources of pollen and nectar for pollinators).

How are plants pollinated by insects and bees?

During a plant’s reproductive phase, a pollinator rubs against the pollen-rich male part of a flower called the anther. The pollinator carries the pollen on its body within the same flower or to a nearby flower of the same species. There it rubs against the female part of the flower, known as the stigma. This fertilizes the flower, which later produces fruit and seeds. Without robust colonies of pollinators – and especially bees who outwork every other pollinator – we’d see far fewer flowers in spring and summer and have far less food to eat. In fact, one-third of all our food is the direct result of pollination by insects.

When does pollination occur?

Pollination occurs during spring, summer, and fall. Plants evolved with differing flower times, so they require pollination at different times of the year. Pollinators evolved alongside these plants over millennia, so they rely on a wide variety of blooms in your garden year-round for their food. Some bees and insects have even developed specific body shapes and traits to pollinate certain flowers.

While pollination doesn’t typically occur in winter, many species of pollinators overwinter in your garden. Don’t be in a rush to clear decaying plants in the fall, as they provide habitat for pollinators during winter.

In a single day, one worker bee makes 12 or more trips from the hive, visiting several thousand flowers. On these foraging trips, the bee can travel as far as two to five miles from the hive. Although honey bees collect pollen from a variety of flowers, a bee limits itself to one plant species per trip, gathering one kind of pollen.

Helping Agriculture’s Helpful Honey Bees, US Food and Drug Adminisration

bee on coneflower
Coneflowers, which produce the herb echinacea, attract many native bees and other pollinators.

7 facts about bees:

  • Native bees pollinate 80 percent of flowering plants worldwide.
  • Honeybees are key to the pollination of certain agricultural plants like almonds and lemons.
  • Some native bees only visit the specific plants they have evolved with.
  • Many native bees are solitary bees, meaning they don’t live in a hive. They nest in the ground or cavities in trees or rocks.
  • Some bees use only one or a small number of plant species for food.
  • There are more than 20,000 known species of bees worldwide and 4,000 are native to the U.S.
  • Some bees are smaller than a grain of rice and some are as long as 1.5 inches.

Why bees are important

Bees are considered the most important pollinators because they are uniquely adapted to gather and transport pollen. Bees rely on flowers for food to feed their young, so they actively seek out and visit flowers… Bees also forage for food close to their nesting sites, a practice called central place foraging. Bees visit one or only a few flowering species during each foraging trip, even when other flowers are available. This behavior, called flower fidelity or flower constancy, makes bees especially reliable couriers to move pollen to receptive flowers.

Ohio State University Extension, Attracting Pollinators to the Garden

All native bees are plant pollinators. Honey bees, native to Europe, are essential pollinators and are arguably the most important, especially for food crops. They actively seek flowers with pollen, unlike other pollinators who are only interested in the flower’s nectar.