Skip to main content

4 types of bees your garden should be attracting

National Don’t Step on a Bee Day is July 10th (right around the corner!) and that means it’s time to talk about all the good things bees can do for your garden. Although many seem intimidating, they’re actually a crucial part to the pollination process. Their presence is something to be encouraged—so long as they’re the right kinds of bees. So, what are some good bees for gardens, and how can you attract them?

A bumblebee on a flower
Sergey Lavrentev/Shutterstock


We all know bumblebees are one of the cutest insects around, but would you believe they’re actually a huge benefit to your crops, too? From native wildflowers to crops like tomatoes and peppers, bumblebees are able to pollinate a wide range of plants in your garden. They’re common in most parts of North America, emerging from their underground nest in the spring after a long winter.

Due to the fact that they don’t have a menacing appearance, bumblebees are perhaps one of the least likely bees to get stepped on. But for this Don’t Step on a Bee Day, why not make a conscious effort to let some coexist with you in your garden? We don’t mean a nest, but just giving them the space to do their job as they flitter from flower to flower. Bumblebees buzz (also known as sonicating), which is an important behavior for pollination of some flowers, like those on a tomato plant.

One of the big threats to bumblebees is the use of pesticides and loss of resources. By minimizing pesticide use and planting flowers they can feed/gather pollen from, you’ll not only get to enjoy the fruits of their labor but will also be helping the local population stay afloat.

Blueberry bees

Blueberry bees are similar in appearance to bumblebees and are a solitary species. They’re native to southern parts of the United States, and as their name suggests are important pollinators for blueberry crops. They’re most active from February to April, emerging just before blueberry plants begin to flower. They use their buzzing ability to shake the heavy pollen from the blueberry flowers loose, transferring it to other flowers in their search for more nectar.

If you grow blueberries and are hoping to attract this master pollinator to your crop, you can try planting some spring flowers nearby or in the same plot! Blueberry bees also enjoy sipping on the nectar of azaleas, clovers, eastern redbuds, viburnums, and trumpet flowers.

A mason bee nesting in a tunnel
Jaco Visser/Shutterstock

Mason bees

North America has roughly 140 species of mason bees, most of which are often mistaken as honey bees. A majority of them have a similar black and yellow striping, though some species sport a blue-black coloring. Unlike honey bees, mason bees are solitary creatures. These bees come with great pollination skills (with some species specializing in the pollination of specific crops, like the blue orchard mason bee focusing on fruit trees).

Most mason bees are actually native to North America, so it’s quite likely you’ve had some buzzing around your garden without realizing it. They emerge when the temperatures reach an average 55 degrees, and you can even encourage mason bees to visit your flowers by setting up a nesting area for them. Because they’re tunnel nesters, you can easily provide them with a bee house made of wood, thick paper straws, or hollow reeds, along with some bee food and a nearby source of mud and pollen-rich flowers that blossom in the spring. The house should be sturdy and mounted on the side of a building, fence, or tree that faces warm morning sun.

Squash bees

Like mason bees, squash bees have a similar appearance to honey bees and are solitary nesters. They’re masters at pollinating squash, pumpkins, and gourds, making them a great friend to have around if you’re growing any of these crops. They’re active in the early hours of the morning, so you have to get up bright and early to see them hard at work. The males can often be spotted darting from flower to flower searching for a mate while the females forage the flowers for pollen and nectar.

By midday, these bees are fast asleep in the wilted flowers, so take care if you choose to remove spent parts of the plant. In celebration of Don’t Step on a Bee Day, you may want to get up early to tend to the garden alongside them. Avoid using pesticides as much as possible, as doing so could kill them. (The ideal time to use the pesticide, if needed, is in the evening when the bees aren’t active.) If you want to be as friendly to these bees as they are to you, you should also avoid tilling the area around your squash and gourds. Often they make their nests under or near the plants they pollinate.

Having flowers and parts of your yard that are left to grow naturally will help encourage bee populations, too! Of course, wasps are never ideal, but bumblebees, blueberry bees, mason bees, and squash bees (along with honey bees and many others!) can be great for gardens. Before you go getting out the bee spray, do some research if there’s a species you don’t recognize. You may have a garden buddy on your hands.

Editors' Recommendations

Kiera Baron
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kiera Baron is a freelance writer and editor, as well as a budding digital artist, based in Upstate NY. She is currently one…
How to grow yarrow, one of pollinators’ favorite blooms
Add yarrow to your pollinator garden with these tips
An orange and black butterfly on white yarrow flowers

When planning an herb and pollinator garden, your mind might jump to rosemary, lavender, thyme, butterfly bushes, and milkweed, but there’s another option you might have missed. Yarrow is a hardy, easy-to-grow flower that pollinators love. With clusters of tiny flowers that can be white, pink, and yellow, these flowers have a simplistic beauty that makes them a great choice for practically any garden aesthetic. If you want to get started growing yarrow plants for yourself, this guide will tell you how.
When and how to plant yarrow

You can start planting yarrow anytime after the last frost of the year, but before the weather gets too hot. Established yarrow plants can withstand heat, but it can put extra stress on a plant that is young or has just been planted. Choose a planting site with well-draining soil and avoid low-lying areas in your garden where water tends to pool. Yarrow plants don't tolerate standing water. Yarrow flowers can tolerate shade, but they thrive in full sun. If you plant them in shade, be aware that you may need to stake them for extra support, as they tend to get leggy.

Read more
What herbs can be planted together? How to plan your herb garden
Keep these tips in mind for arranging your plants when planning your garden space
A crate full of harvested herbs

There are so many useful and delicious herbs you can grow in your garden, but figuring out how to arrange them can be tricky. Companion planting charts can help you choose companion plants if you already have a few herbs picked out, but what if you aren’t sure where to start? This guide will help you decide what herbs can be planted together in your garden. The best companion plants have similar care requirements, so find the section that best matches your garden and get ready to plant.
Herbs for dry gardens

If the area you have set aside for your herb garden is in full or majority sun with dry or well-draining soil, then you’ll likely need some drought-tolerant herbs. Rosemary and lavender are two of the most commonly planted herbs for this type of garden, and luckily, they pair well with many other herbs. Oregano, sage, and thyme make excellent companion plants for each other, as well as both rosemary and lavender.

Read more
How to grow lantana: Everything you need to know
Grow beautiful lantana flowers with this guide
Pink and yellow lantana flowers

Lantana is a beautiful and colorful flower that comes in several bright colors, including orange and pink. Not only is it lovely for humans, but it also attracts tons of butterflies, bees, and even hummingbirds. If that sounds like the perfect flower to you, then you’re in luck! Lantana is fairly easy to grow, and this guide to lantana care will answer all your questions, from where to plant it to what other plants it pairs well with. So grab your lantana seedlings and a trowel and let’s get started!
Planting lantana

Start planting your lantana after the last frost of the year has passed. Lantana is a tropical plant, and it thrives in hot, humid conditions and frost can damage it, especially if it is young or recently planted. Choose a planting location that is in full sun, with rich, well-draining soil. Lantana can tolerate some light shade, but the flowers will be brighter and more numerous if your lantana is in full sun. Lantana enjoys wet soil, but it can still develop root rot or other fungal infections if left in standing water for too long.

Read more