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Bees make honey; we all know that. But are bees attracted to honey if you leave it out to bring them to your garden?
Bees make honey for food so by placing it in your garden, you’re bound to attract bees. These tiny creatures can’t get enough of the stuff and it’s just one of the many ways you can invite more of these pollinators to your garden.
However, if you’re a beekeeper then you may have considered using honey as a food source for bees but this might not be the best option as using something like sugar water is often much more affordable.
In this guide, we’ll look at why bees are attracted to honey as well as looking at some other great ways to bring bees to your backyard.
Table of Contents
Bees collect pollen and nectar and they use this to make honey. They do it by packing the nectar into the cells of the honeycomb and allowing it to dry out. The bees will then flap their wings to create a warm breeze to speed up the process.
While humans have been cultivating honey for thousands of years, it was never actually intended for us. In fact, bees make honey as a food source for their queen and for the hive.
Bees survive on eating honey and they make enough so that, over the winter when they cannot forage, the hive will still have plenty of food. But there are times that the hive will run out of honey over the colder months and it’s then down to the beekeeper to provide alternative sustenance.
Other people want to use honey to attract bees to their gardens and this is a viable way of doing it. But it’s also a pretty expensive method, especially when there are so many other ways to bring our winged friends to your doorstep.
If you do want to use honey to attract bees, you could try adding a drop of certain essential oils, like anise or lemongrass, which will further attract bees. You will certainly bring in a lot of bee attention when using honey.
Honey is one of the greatest ways to attract bees but let’s face it, it’s hardly the cheapest food item on the market. If you want to bring in swathes of bees but don’t want to break the bank then there are some other things you can do.
What you plant in your garden can make a big difference as to what animals and insects come to visit. There are some plants that you’ll want to avoid if you’re looking to attract bees and these include things like cucumber, citronella, wormwood, and geraniums, among others.
But there are far many more plants that attract bees. Let’s take a look at what some of these are before explaining why bees love these flowers so much.
- Bee balm
- Anise hyssop
- Black-eyed Susan
There are, of course, a whole host of other plants and flowers that attract bees but these are some of the most common. It’s really important to plant native plants as this ensures the survival of native species and will do far more to attract local wildlife than anything else will.
So why are bees so attracted to flowers? Well, the answer is quite simple…
…bees are pollinators and they need flowers to collect pollen and transfer it from one plant to the next. Many plants rely on pollinators like bees and if it weren’t for them, the plants simply wouldn’t be able to exist or reproduce.
This might not sound as though it means much to you and I but in reality, we would also cease to survive without our friendly little pollinators. It is estimated that as many as 85% of crops in the US rely on bees and other pollinators, otherwise, they would die out. This would mean a massive shortage of food for us so it’s not hard to see why bees are important. By including flowers in your garden, you’re not only attracting bees but are contributing to helping the entire ecosystem thrive.
What’s truly amazing is that, over time, certain plants have evolved in order that bees are more attracted to them. These little creatures love anything that has tubular or open flowers as this allows much easier access to pollen and nectar. Some plants have also evolved strong scents and colors as this is something that really draws bees in.
There are even some flowers that send signals to the bees which draw them in. There’s no way that we could pick up on this as, without UV light, those signals are undetectable by humans. An example of a flower that behaves in this way is the sunflower.
Unlike humans, bees have super advanced eyes that allow them to see a much wider range of color than we can. This means that they are able to spot an array of flowers and the more you have in your garden, the more the bees will be attracted. What really surprises you, however, is the fact that bees can use this supervision to distinguish one flower from another as they are flying around.
A lot of people believe that simply having a birdbath in the garden will be more than enough to attract bees. While the water will draw them in, they’re not usually about to use birdbaths as they’re too deep.
Instead, you can make a bee bath which is much shallower and has somewhere for the bees to stand as they access the water. The best thing to use here would be a shallow tray and place some flat stones on it before filling it with water. If you place this among the flowers, it’s sure to bring in more bees.
Buy A Bee Feeder:
Most people pride themselves on having a pristine garden but this doesn’t have to be the case if you’re looking to attract bees. Yards that are manicured to within an inch of their life don’t have any nice areas for bees to hide out or get comfortable so they’re unlikely to stop by.
However, if you let your garden, or at least part of it get a little wilder then you’ll find that you get lots more bee visitors. You want to aim for something that resembles a meadow with open space and lots of wildflowers and grass that’s been allowed to grow.
If you’re cringing at the thought of not mowing the lawn, you don’t have to worry. Just leaving a small patch in an inconspicuous corner can be enough. In addition to this, something like a pile of leaves or brush will create that wild environment that bees love.
Just like us, bees need somewhere to shelter from the elements. There are lots of ways you can provide shelter even if there isn’t a hive in sight. Things like rotting stumps and vegetation are perfect but you can also buy a bee shelter and pop this in the garden.
If you fancy a DIY project then it’s entirely possible to make your own bee box. You’ll need a small wooden box which you should paint in a color that’s going to get the bee’s attention. Things like bright purple or blue and white can work very well.
Inside the box, you will need to build a system of nesting tubes. These can be made by rolling up craft paper or you can buy them at garden stores and online. Make sure that the entire box is filled with tubes and that each one has an opening large enough to allow the bee to get in.
When you’re done, you’ll need to turn the box onto its side and then hang it somewhere in the backyard. Ensure that you choose a suitable location that’s sheltered but is easy enough for the bees to spot.
Using chemical products in your garden such as pesticides is an easy way to keep certain creatures under control. But when you use these products, you’re also repelling bees as they are sensitive to the ingredients and are bound to keep away.
Where possible, stop using pesticides in your garden and opt for more natural methods that are suited to the pest you’re looking to get rid of.
If you absolutely have to use them, then we would advise only using pesticides at night as bees won’t be as active then so probably won’t notice.
We have written articles on the suitability of certain types of sugar for bees and it’s clear that white sugar is the best option. Some types of sugar are not at all appropriate for bees and should be avoided. A good example of this is brown sugar as the molasses are not healthy for the bees.
However, if you find that your bee colony isn’t thriving over the colder months due to a lack of honey reserves, then you will need to take matters into your own hands.
One of the most simple and affordable ways to do this is by making sugar water at home. What’s more, sugar water can be used by those without a beehive and can be simply placed outdoors to attract bees. If you’re a real nature lover then you’ll be pleased to know that sugar water will also attract a whole host of other critters including hummingbirds.
Anyone who knows even the smallest tidbit about nature knows that bees and honey go hand in hand. But while we’re all familiar with the concept that bees make honey, many of us often wonder whether we can attract bees with honey.
The reality is that bees are very much attracted to honey since this is one of their primary food sources. However, if you want to attract bees to your garden, honey probably isn’t the most cost-effective way. Planting native flowers and creating an environment that is attractive to bees will still bring in a lot of these creatures.
If you’re looking for a viable food source for your bees then you could use honey but sugar water is far more affordable.