Best herbs for bees.

Doing Our Part to Save the Bees with 5 Simple Herbs


Let’s be honest – we live in a society that consists of bandwagons.  And that’s fine.  We all need to forge our own little space on this giant rock.  But if you’re someone like me, a fairly simple person, then this past year was slightly nauseating.  That being said, I do have a bandwagon that everyone can join.



Doing Our Part to Save the Bees

I’m sure you’ve read about it, or at the very least you’ve scrolled past an article or two on Facebook in the last few years.  But this is SUPER important!  Why?  Because regardless of our race, creed or any other boundaries that society places on us, we all need sustenance to survive.  And that my friends, is why everyone should hop on this bandwagon.

A Few Stats About Bee Decline

In North America alone, bees help to pollinate at least 90 commercially grown crops (90!!).  In fact, there are a few crops, such as Almonds, that are entirely dependent upon bee pollination.  Basically, every third bite of food that you eat is because of bees.  ? That’s why we neeeeed bees!!




The rapid decline of the bee population over the last 10 or so years can be traced back to many things.  Three of the main concerns are the loss of habitat, pesticides, and mites.

Quite frankly, it’s exhausting to read all the reasons why bee populations have been declining.  With so many different points of view, groups are quick to throw blame to push their agenda.  We can point fingers at farmers and their chemicals, suburbanites growing lawns instead of native plants and those darn mites (ugh, they’re the worst).

Honestly, no one is perfect or exempt so instead of pointing fingers (there’s always 3 pointing back, yes?), let’s work for nature and be an example for our children and everyone watching.  Hello, neighbor, I see you…?




Where Do I Begin?

If you have a ton of perennials and native plants in your yard then kudos to you – keep on going!!

If you have a small area for planting and want all summer color then give these annuals a try:

  • Marigold
  • Zinnia
  • Salvia
  • Penta

But one of my favorite ways to provide nectar for the bees is to grow herbs.  Yes, herbs!  They are wonderful when blended into your existing landscape.  I used to leave a 4′ x 3′ area open in my landscape off my kitchen door for easy access.  They are also easy to grow in containers, so for anyone who lives in a villa or apartment and only has a small area available to them, you can still help save the bees!

Like all herbs, these five perennial herbs require well-drained soil that is evenly moist.  In other words, make sure you don’t have any standing water and only water when the soil is dry a couple inches down.  An established herb rarely requires any extra moisture though containers will need to be watered regularly.

While herbs are typically grown to harvest for cooking, our goal is to provide nectar for bees – so trim only when needed and allow the plant to produce its flower.  If possible, plant a large selection of perennial and annual herbs so you have flowers from spring to fall.


Here are My 5 FAVE Perennial Herbs for Bees:

Chives – These close relatives to onion, garlic, and leeks have a far more delicate flavor than their family members.  They produce lavender flowers in the early spring that give bees a jump start to nectar hunting!




Lavender – Whether you’re partial to the South of France, drizzly England or Grandma’s closet, there’s nothing quite like the scent of lavender that evokes strong emotions.  You’ll love rubbing up against this beauty and bees will flock to this spectacular summer bloomer!  There are a number of varieties that are not hardy in the St. Louis region, so when buying lavender, be sure to choose a variety that is hardy in zone 5 or 6.




Mint – Mint, oh mint.  There is no plant easier than mint to grow and no plant (okay, maybe a few) quite as territorial as mint.  So, while bees will love the flowers of mint, it is best planted in a container so you can control it.  You should take note though that when you allow your mint to flower, the stems can become tough and the leaves can become bitter.  You may benefit by the ‘two for you and one for me’ – or vice versa – rule if you want to use mint in your drinks or cooking.




Rosemary – Rosemary is a borderline hardy herb for St. Louis.  My rosemary typically survives 2 to 4 years, at which time we almost always have a cold winter that kills it off, and I have to replace it.  The delicate lavender flowers of rosemary are a favorite of bees.




Thyme – Thyme unveils its blush colored flowers in the summer for bees to nosh on.  While thyme loves being planted in the ground, I prefer to grow it in a tall container simply because I have dogs and removing dog fur from thyme leaves for cooking?  Not a fun task!




Regardless of what flowers you plant for the bees, be sure to have continual blooms from spring to winter.  Remember, bees don’t go out to pollinate our food, they go out in search of nectar and the result of flying from flower to flower is pollination.  We should seriously be thanking them for the food they help provide us!




Further Reading:

White House Briefing Room

University of Maryland

Honeybee Conservancy

Bee Informed Partnership