Planting for Pollinators

by Bedford 2020

What do apples, almonds, blueberries, citrus, melons, pears, plums, pumpkins, and squash have in common? They all need pollinators.

Photo by Karen Sabath, local beekeeper
Photo by Karen Sabath, local beekeeper

Most gardeners are familiar with the important role that bees and other pollinators play in fertilization of plants in their garden. Pollinators transfer pollen from one flower to another, fertilizing the plant and starting the process of fruit and seed production. Good pollination results in hearty fruits with viable seeds. Pollinators are so important that growers often rent honeybee hives to ensure that they will have a successful harvest.

Unfortunately bee populations are declining. While there are many factors, it is thought that habitat loss, disease, bee parasites, and inappropriate and excessive pesticide use contribute to the loss of pollinators.

How Gardeners Can Help

You know how much pollinators do for your garden, now you can do something for the pollinators. In addition to eliminating use of chemical fertilizers and toxic pesticides on your lawn and in your gardens, you can also plant for pollinators by following these tips.


  • Choose a variety of plants that will provide blooms from early spring to late fall.
  • Choose plants of various heights, colors, shapes and sizes  to attract different pollinators.
  • Choose colors that bees love: blue, purple, and yellow :
  • Flat or shallow blossoms, such as daisies, zinnias, asters, Queen Anne’s lace, will attract the largest variety of bees.
  • Long-tongued bees will be attracted to plants in the mint family such as nepeta, salvia, oregano, mint and lavender.
  • Long-tongued bumblebees are attracted to flowers with hidden nectar spurs such as larkspur, monkshood, monarda, columbine and snapdragons.


  • Plant wildflowers and native species . According to the Penn State Center for Pollinator Research, bees are four times more attracted to native plants than non-native plants.
  • Avoid double blooms.  Modern hybrid flowers that have been modified to produce large, double blooms have less nectar and pollen than flowers with one ring of petals.
Enjoy your beautiful flowers and the pollinators in your garden!


  • Plant big patches of each plant species .
  • Include plants that feed caterpillars .
  • Create habitat  by leaving dead wood, piles of dry grasses and sticks, a muddy area, or uncovered ground areas free of weed mesh or heavy mulch.
  • Consider backyard beekeeping .


Limit or eliminate your use of pesticides and chemicals in your yard, they will kill pollinators. Click here to take the Pledge to limit pesticide use on your property.

Queen bee in the hive, photo by Karen Sabath

This fantastic eco-regional guide produced by the Pollinator Partnership is a great resource when planning a pollinator garden in our area: Selecting Plants for Pollinators: A Regional Guide for Farmers, Land Managers and Gardeners in the Eastern Broadleaf Forest (Oceanic Province).