Spring Focus: Bumbling Bees Bring Beauty to the Season

Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey for UC ANR

Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey for UC ANR

Spring is the season of gardens, flowers, thriving green vines and herbs in pots. The gardens humans plant attract helpful pollinators from afar, such as hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. These pollinators have a series of favorite plants that people can plant to spread the pollen between flowers and give the pollinators a sweet nectar treat. 

In nature, a variety of flowers draw buzzing hummingbirds to a garden. According to almanac.com, plants that have bright colors and a tubular shape like bee balms, perennials, and foxgloves are especially attractive to pollinators. Red and orange colored petals seem to appeal to the birds the most. Hummingbirds are also interested in impatiens, more commonly known as touch-me-not. An interesting fact about the impatiens is where their name comes from – the touch-me-not name is derived from the exploding seed pods that burst open upon being touched.

The flowering plants that bees are attracted to greatly differ from the hummingbird’s preferences. Plants like mint and chive, which both attract bees, should be planted in pots, according to countryliving.com. They grow very fast and can choke out other flowers. An interesting plant that bees enjoy is the borage plant or Borago officinalis. People can even eat the leaves, stems, and flowers from the borage plant that taste faintly of cucumber. Other flowers that attract the bumbling bugs are sunflowers, black-eyed Susans, snowdrops, petunias, zinnias, and peonies.

Butterflies are beautiful “flower-frolickers” that come in various colors – as do their preferences. According to countryliving.com, flowers like butterfly bush, marigolds, and globe thistle entice the fluttering beauties. Butterflies are additionally attracted to flowers rich in nectar and pollen, like wildflowers. Flowers with tight, slim nectar tubes and a strong fragrance also tend to bring butterflies to them.

Pollinators like hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees do great things for the environment, carrying pollen across the country to plant and help the growth of new flowers and plants. By planting these flowers, more of the insect will grow, as will new plant life.