Logo   (Since 1999)


Home       Food Articles       Food Trivia       Today in Food History       Recipes       Cooking Tips       Videos       Food Quotes       Who's Who       Food Trivia Quizzes       Crosswords       Food Poems       Cookbooks       Food Posters       Recipe Contests       Cooking Schools       Gourmet Tours       Food Festivals & Shows

You are here > Home > Food Articles

GARDENING >  Attracting Bees and Butterflies To Your Garden




  Food Facts & Trivia
  Cooking Contests
  Recipe Categories


Culinary Posters and Food Art

Attracting Bees and Butterflies To Your Garden


Dear EarthTalk: I’d like to have a garden that encourages bees and butterflies. What’s the best approach?
Robert Miller, Bakersfield, Calif.

Attracting bees and butterflies to a garden is a noble pursuit indeed, given that we all depend on these species and others (beetles, wasps, flies, hummingbirds, etc.) to pollinate the plants that provide us with so much of our food, shelter and other necessities of life. In fact, increased awareness of the essential role pollinators play in ecosystem maintenance—along with news about rapid declines in bee populations—have led to a proliferation of backyard “pollinator gardens” across the U.S. and beyond.

“Pollinators require two essential components in their habitat: somewhere to nest and flowers from which to gather nectar and pollen,” reports the Xerces Society, a Massachusetts-based non-profit that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat. “Native plants are undoubtedly the best source of food for pollinators, because plants and their pollinators have coevolved.” But, Xerces adds, many varieties of garden plants can also attract pollinators. Plant lists customized for different regions of the U.S. can be found on the group’s website.

Bee Pollinater
We all depend on these species and others to pollinate the plants that provide us with so much of our food, shelter and other necessities of life.               Credit: iStockPhoto

Any garden, whether a window box on a balcony or a multi-acre backyard, can be made friendlier to pollinators. Xerces recommends providing a range of native flowering plants that bloom throughout the growing season to provide food and nesting for bees, butterflies and other pollinators. Xerces also says that clustering flowering plants together in patches is preferable to spacing individual plants apart. “Creating foraging habitat not only helps the bees, butterflies and flies that pollinate these plants, but also results in beautiful, appealing landscapes.”

Along these lines, gardeners should plant a variety of colors in a pollinator garden, as color is one of the plant kingdom’s chief clues that pollen or nectar is available. Master gardener Marie Iannotti, an gardening guide, reports that blue, purple, violet, white and yellow flowers are particularly attractive to bees. She adds that different shapes also attract different types of pollinators, and that getting as much floral diversity of any kind going is a sure way to maximize pollination.

Another way to attract pollinators is to provide nest sites for bees—see how on the website. The group also suggests cutting out pesticides, as these harsh chemicals reduce the available nectar and pollen sources in gardens while poisoning the very insects that make growing plants possible. Those looking to go whole hog into pollinator gardening might consider investing $30 in Xerces Society’s recently published book, Attracting Native Pollinators: Protecting North America’s Bees and Butterflies, which provides a good deal of detailed information about pollinators and the plants they love.

Gardeners who have already encouraged pollinators can join upwards of 1,000 others who have signed onto Xerces’ Pollinator Protection Pledge. And the icing on the cake is a “Pollinator Habitat” sign from Xerces stuck firmly in the ground between two flowering native plants so passersby can learn about the importance of pollinators and making them feel welcome.

CONTACTS: Xerces Society,, “Bee Plants,”

May 2013
EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E - The Environmental Magazine ( Send questions to: . Subscribe:




    GARDENING         High Nutrition Vitamin Garden         Caribou Grounds For Your Garden         Dangers from Deer         Home Grown Strawberries         Birdfeeder Basics         Attracting Bees and Butterflies To Your Garden         Tips for First Time Gardeners         Cool Weather Vegetable Crops         Six Container Gardening Tips         Tomato Gardening Tips   
Home       About Us & Contact Us       Vegetable Articles       World Cuisine       Food Timeline       Food Links

Please feel free to link to any pages of from your website.

For permission to use any of this content please E-mail:

All contents are copyright © 1990 - 2014 James T. Ehler and unless otherwise noted.
All rights reserved.

You may copy and use portions of this website for non-commercial, personal use only.

Any other use of these materials without prior written authorization is not very nice and violates the copyright.

Please take the time to request permission.








From Amateur & Basic Cooking Classes to Professional Chef Training & Degrees
More than 1,000 schools & classes listed for all 50 States, Online and Worldwide

FREE Food & Beverage Publications
An extensive selection of free magazines and other publications for qualified Food, Beverage & Hospitality professionals