Designing A Bee-Friendly Garden: Focus On Purple And Blue Blooms To Achieve Impressive Results
Author: Christy Erickson from SavingOurBees
Bees play a central role in our ecosystem, as they are the most effective pollinators available to keep some of our favorite foods growing well. Many bee species have been suffering sizable population drops in recent years and this trend concerns experts who are evaluating how this could impact our food supply. Individual gardeners can help counter these trends, and planting flowers in certain colors is a good place to start.
A bee’s eyesight is quite different from a human’s.
Bee Culture explains that these insects have some very unique aspects to their eyesight. Bees can see ultraviolet light that humans cannot, and many flowers have additional patterns and colors that are helpful to bees but are invisible to us. In fact, some of these additional colors and patterns act as “bulls-eyes” to help the bees know where their nectar is.
These insects have three photoreceptors like humans do, but the combination of colors they can see is different. While people see combinations of red, green, and blue, everything bees see is a variation of green, blue, and ultraviolet light. This means that they cannot see red, but they are able to see orange, yellow, and a combination of ultraviolet light and yellow termed “bee’s purple.”
Purple, blue, yellow, and white flowers are the most popular with bees
Bees are attracted primarily to flowers that are blue, violet, purple, white, and yellow based on their eyesight. In addition, as Science 2.0 notes, purple blooms are often favorites because they tend to have more nectar than other choices. Blue often comes next on the nectar scale, so gardeners anxious to attract bees to their yard may want to focus on those colors during their planning.
If you are a beginning gardener or are working with a small space, creating a gardening plan around bloom colors provides an easy, solid starting point. Purple and violet choices are plentiful, with coneflowers, lavender, blue giant hyssop, Joe-pye weeds, and crocus being popular flowers that tend to attract bees. Catmint offers a purple-bluish bloom, and borage is another great pick in the blue arena.
White blooms may seem plain to us humans, but they do beckon numerous species of bees. For example, Bee Friendly suggests trying out some lily of the valley or cotoneasters in your garden to see who pays a visit. Yellow blossoms are often a hit with bees too, especially sunflowers, black-eyed Susans, cosmos, calendula, and goldenrod.
Incorporate a colorful variety, but avoid red blooms
Many bee-friendly flowers are available in a variety of hues, so you can use these to fine-tune the color scheme in your bee garden. Geraniums and salvia are typically available in white, pink, or purple, and both sweet Williams and asters can be purple, blue, or pink.
Bee balm, heliotrope, and foxglove are also available multiple colors and are great additions to a garden. Quite a few of these bee-friendly blooms come in red as well, but bees cannot see red as they do not have a photoreceptor for it.
Creating a garden to attract bees doesn’t have to be a complicated venture. There are many options to choose from, and an easy place to start is to focus on bloom colors such as purple, violet, blue, yellow, and white. You can mix and match bee-friendly varieties to fit the space you have available, whether it is big or small, and know that you are making a difference. Many bee species are facing population declines due to environmental issues, but making an effort to support them via your personal garden can help them flourish.
[Photo via Pixabay]