How To Attract Bumble Bees: Tips For Attracting Bumble Bees To The Garden

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By Mary H. Dyer, Master Naturalist and Master Gardener

Bumble bees are large, fluffy, highly social bees with black and yellow stripes. Although the big, attractive bees make only enough honey to feed the colony, they are extremely important insects that pollinate many plants, including native plants, vegetables, fruit trees and agricultural crops. All home gardeners should use strategies that maintain and encourage the presence of these beneficial insects.

How to Attract Bumble Bees

How do you attract bumble bees? Attracting bumble bees to the garden isn’t difficult and it doesn’t require a lot of time or a large growing space. Even if you have a few potted plants or a window box, you can attract bumble bees.


The most important thing is to provide the right types of flowers. Otherwise, a muddy or damp area provides drinking water for the bees, and a small brush pile with dry grass or twigs makes a good nesting habitat.

You may enjoy a neat perfectly manicured garden, but a natural area is more likely to attract bumble bees.

Plants That Attract Bumble Bees

There are several things to keep in mind when planning a bee-friendly garden.

Native species and wildflowers are important because the bees rely on the plants for pollen and nectar. Many non-native plants and ornamentals provide very little nectar. Plant a variety of wildflowers in a range of colors that bloom from spring until autumn.

Bees can’t see the color red, and to them it looks much like the surrounding green foliage. However, they are highly attracted to shades of purple, blue and yellow. Plants with flat, single blossoms are easiest for the bees to access. Although double blooms are beautiful, bees have difficulty reaching the nectar inside the flowers.

Bumble Bee Nest Boxes

Bumble bee nest boxes are square boxes that measure 15 to 25 inches in diameter. Each box has an entrance/exit hole and at least two holes for ventilation. The ventilation holes should be covered with netting to prevent ants from entering the box. They must also have some type of covering to keep the nest dry.

There are many books that provide specific plans for building and maintaining a nest box. You can also find plans online.

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