Bees are the world’s most important pollinators. These buzzing insects carry pollen between plants so that they can fruit. Without bees, our food supply would be very different. Growing a garden full of flowers that bees like is a great way to help the ecosystem. Keep the flowers dense and a little bit unmanicured to attract the most bees. Offer a variety of flowers, too. Bees frequent mixed gardens over less diverse patches.
Bright Colors - Bees buzz right over to a garden with lots of bright colors. The colors signal that there are plenty of plants from which the bee can drink nectar. Pink, yellow, purple and orange look beautiful mixed together, but also create a series of stops for bees to bring other bees along with them, too. Some pink flowers to try are pink cosmos, germander and various buckwheats. Yellow flowers include sunflowers and gumweed. For purple dashes, try penstemon. Mexican sunflowers add glorious orange.
Landing Pads - Flowers with landing pads attract bees more than flowers that are tricky to navigate. A little petal lip or hiding spot for a bee to dip in and drink looks welcoming to the yellow and black pollinators. Snapdragons are excellent choices. When bees tap against the edges of a snapdragon, the petals open up just enough for the bee to hide inside the flower and feel protected. Pansies signal a safe landing to bees, too. Their gentle zigzag details create a landing pattern the bees follow directly to the nectar.
Scent - The same thing that attracts humans to flowers attracts bees! The sweet smell of flowers lures bees into their petals for a taste. A richly scented garden with diverse notes will bring lots of bees. (This is the same reason bees sometimes like your perfume or hairspray.) Lavender, geraniums and licorice mint are all interesting, pretty choices that emit a tantalizing mix of scent into the air.
Red Flowers - Red flowers are invisible to bees. Including them in your garden might not deter bees from entering, but red flowers rely on other pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies. These other pollinators can enjoy the rest of your garden while they're there visiting the red flowers. If they suck up all the nectar, there might not be much left to attract the beneficial bee swarms you seek. The occasional red flower mixed in your garden for a splash of color or accidental bloom is unlikely to do any harm, though.