Tips to Create Gardens That Will Benefit Bees

Tips to Create Gardens That Will Benefit Bees

According to “The Super Bowl of Beekeeping” an article by Jaime Lowe in the Aug. 9, New York Times Magazine, “About one in every three mouthfuls of food we eat wouldn’t exist without bee pollination.” While local gardeners may not be feeding the world from here in Alameda, the Island City does have a farming history and it does host a lot of fruit trees.  

So providing pollen for bees, which is essential for the growth of seeds and fruits, is a big deal. Whatever the size garden, there are many ways gardeners can help promote, protect and feed our precious pollinators. 

  • Grow colorful native plants; local attracts local. Bees especially like blue and purple flowers!
  • Plant large clusters of the same plant to create easily visible “landing areas” for the bees.
  • Plant flowers that have different blooming seasons, to provide pollen from spring through fall.
  • Grow plants with flowers of diverse shapes and sizes to attract a variety of pollinators. 
  • Eliminate pesticides. They kill bees as well as the beneficial insects that eat the undesirable ones. 
  • Intentionally create some messy garden areas to provide essential nesting sites. Leave some open, uncovered dirt for bees that nest in the ground, not in hives. Drill holes in dead tree trunks, logs and downed branches to make bee “condos.”
  • Provide clean water in a shallow dish or bird bath. Half-submerged rocks make good perches for bees. 

Native plants that tend to grow well in a pollinator garden in Alameda include: bee balm, hyssop, goldenrod, lupine, milkweed, penstemon, coneflower, sage and sunflower. Other excellent pollinator plants include: basil, borage, oregano, marjoram, rosemary, lavender, catnip, Mexican sunflower, Calendula, Seaside daisy and California poppy.

Now that fall is almost here, consider these plants that will bloom through the this season: cilantro, cosmos, sneezeweed, coreopsis, Frikart’s aster, salvia, apricot mallow, gumplant, blanketflower, red buckwheat, borage and bulbine.
For more information about pollinator plants that attract bees and butterflies visit:;;www.; and

Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) is a network of gardeners in Alameda who grow food and donate fresh produce to neighbors who face food insecurity. Find the schedule for ABG’s monthly education meetings at 

ABG’s Project Pick is always looking for fruit trees to pick and volunteers to help pick and deliver the fruit to the Alameda Food Bank. To help, email info@alameda or leave a message at 239-PICK (239-7485).