Latest: best plants for bees

(due to be updated in January 2019)


This report provides the findings from the 4th year of our formal research which aims to quantify the relative attractiveness of ‘bee-friendly’ garden plants.  

Note: These findings build on the method described, in, detail in the 2014 research paper available at

The scope of the study in 2017 included: 

·       75 plants including

o   62 perennials, 3 biennials and 10 annuals

o   18 plants that are new to the study with a particular focus on annuals

The additional plants take the four-year scope to a total of 97 plants studied, of which 71 plants have more than one year’s data.

This year we saw 68% more honey bees which caused  those plants that attract honey bees to dominate the rankings and so have now split the ranking into honey bees and wild bees. Here are the 'top 30' plants in each category.

Our conclusions are:

  • The primary finding is still that plants are not equally attractive to bees, even when you focus on ‘bee-friendly’ plants, and the variation is significant for anyone wanting to maximize the amount of bee-food that any area of land can provide.
  • Healthy plants with more flowers attract more bees: the old gardeners adage of ‘right plant for the right place’ is important, not only for a sustainable garden, but also for the direct impact on the pollinators each plant may support
  • Generally native and non-native plants continue to appear equally attractive to bees and, except where some specific bees and plants have a more unique inter-dependency; most bees do not care about the origin of the plant as long as the plant’s structure allows them to reach the nectar or pollen.
  • NEW - It’s important to provide a range of different plants to attract both honey bees and wild bees and to limit adverse competition in times of bee-food shortage.

Our full 2017 report is here;