Food for your Honeybees and Native Bees

Food for thought on food for bees…

Late fall is still shrub-planting season in much of North America. And throughout the month of November, many garden centers are running clearance sales to reduce stock before winter. If you live in USDA zone 5 or warmer, the ground in your area will likely remain workable at least through Thanksgiving. Now is a great time to take advantage of discounted prices on native, flowering shrubs that will support honey bees in the coming year.

A few hours of time spent on ‘last minute’ planting before winter can really help out our buzzing friends. Even one or two native, flowering shrubs can make a difference to a local colony of honey bees in your area.

Blueberry bushes, (Vaccinium corymbosum and angustifolium),  Elderberry,(Sambucus),  Summersweet, (Clethra alnifolia), Witch-alder, (Fothergilla gardenii and major), Meadowsweet, (Spirea), and native Honeysuckle, (Lonicera), (be sure not to plant the invasive Asian honeysuckle), are good native-shrub choices for many North American gardens. (For helpful information on how to plant shrubs, see this article,, at The Gardener’s Eden). There are many more beautiful, garden-worthy choices available than I can possibly list here – some unique to your area. Your local nursery will be able to give you the best advice for your climate-zone.

So get out there and plant some native, flowering shrubs if you still can. The bees will thank you for it!

Dwarf witch-alder, (Fothergilla gardenii), far right, covered with white flowers in early spring. Photo by Michaela, The Gardener’s Eden