Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

Sunflowers - good for bees as well as birds

Sunflowers are not an obvious plant for bees and there is very little written about them in this context but they appear to be quite beneficial. Sunflowers are a really popular plant for any family with small children because they are so easy to grow from seed and so dramatic. But I think adults really enjoy them too which explains the proliferation of different types sold in recent years. In most garden centres you will find at least 4 different varieties: giant ones, red ones, multicoloured etc.

The bees dont really care what colour they are and so far I am not finding any seed varieties that are likely to be sterile (and therefore deficient in nectar or pollen).

I grew a big clump of them at the entrance to Rosybee this year just because I wanted a big splash of colour and some height at the back of our newly planted entrace bed. I planted them out very late - around the end of June - and they didnt really get into full flower before mid August but I notice there are still a few flowers now in early November as the frost has not got them yet.

I have observed bees on them every sunny day since they flowered so they have made it onto my recommended list.