Plants for Minnesota Bees

Bees rely on flowers to supply them with the food they need to survive. Some flowers (e.g. tomatoes) provide only pollen, the main source of protein for bees. Other flowers (e.g. clovers) provide both nectar and pollen, thus providing both protein and carbohydrates.

There are hundreds of different bee species in Minnesota. Different types of bees prefer different flowers. Some of these preferences are due to the physical size or shape of the bees and the flowers. Some flowers have long tubes with nectar at the bottom. Long-tongued bees are the only bees able to reach the nectar. Other preferences are based on nutritional needs. Some bees are only able to raise their young with pollen from particular plants. These bees are called "specialists". Other bees are "generalists" and will collect pollen from a wide range of plants.

There are also seasonal differences in the activity of different bee species. Many bee species forage as adults for only a few weeks out of the year, with different species emerging throughout the spring and summer, into early fall. The rest of the year, the young are developing in nests that are underground or in cavities. Each bee was provided with a pollen ball, a mixture of pollen and nectar, left there by their mother. They will emerge the following season. Many other bee species, including honey bees and bumble bees, are present through the entire spring, summer and early fall.

Providing a diverse array of plants will help ensure that you support a diverse array of bee species. Do your best to provide blooming flowers from April to September.

Information about listing of plants for Minnesota bees

This list is not inclusive of all plants that bees will visit in Minnesota.
These are flowers that are particularly attractive to bees and can be easily integrated into most landscapes.

Early = March to May, Mid=June to July, Late=August to September

Plants for Minnesota Bees

Scientific nameCommon nameHabitSunNativeBloom timeHoney beesOther bees
Crataegus crus-galliHawthornTreeFull sunXEarlyXX
Geranium maculatumWild geraniumHerbaceous plantShadeXEarlyX
Penstemon grandiflorusLarge beardtoungeHerbaceous plantFull sunXEarlyX
Salix discolorPussy willowShrubFull sun, Part-ShadeXEarlyXX
Coreopsis lanceolataLanceleaf coreopsisHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-Shade, ShadeXEarly to MidXX
Hydrophyllum virginianumVirginia waterleafHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-Shade, ShadeXEarly to MidXX
Lupinus perennisWild lupineHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeXEarly to MidX
Zizia aureaGolden AlexanderHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeXEarly to MidX
Amorpha fruticosaFalse indigoShrubFull sun, Part-ShadeXMidXX
Aruncus dioecusGoatsbeardHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-Shade, ShadeXMidXX
Echinacea angustifoliaPurple coneflowerHerbaceous plantFull sunXMidXX
Lobelia siphiliticaBlue lobeliaHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeXMidX
Pycnanthemum tenuifoliumSlender mountainHerbaceous plantFull sunXMidXX
Agastache foeniculumAnise hyssopHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeXMid to LateXX
Asclepias incarnataSwamp milkweedHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeXMid to LateXX
Borago officinalisBorageHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeMid to LateXX
Chamaecrista fasciculataPartridge peaHerbaceous plantFull sunXMid to LateXX
Cirsium discolorBicolor thistleHerbaceous plantFull sunXMid to LateXX
Dalea purpureaPurple prairie cloverHerbaceous plantFull sunXMid to LateXX
Eupatorium maculatumJoe-pye weedHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeXMid to LateXX
Helianthus spp.SunflowersHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-Shade, ShadeXMid to LateXX
Hylotelephium telephiumAutumn joy sedumHerbaceous plantPart-Shade, ShadeMid to LateXX
Liatris asperaRough blazingstarHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeXMid to LateXX
Monarda fistulosaBeebalmHerbaceous plantFull sunXMid to LateXX
Nepeta x faasseniiCatmintHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeMid to LateXX
Origanum vulgareOreganoHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeMid to LateXX
Ratibida pinnataYellow coneflowerHerbaceous plantFull sunXMid to LateX
Silphium perfoliatumCup plantHerbaceous plantFull sunXMid to LateXX
Trifolium hybridumAlsike cloverHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeMid to LateXX
Vernonia fasiculataIronweedHerbaceous plantFull sunXMid to LateXX
Veronicastrum virginicumCulver’s rootHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeXMid to LateXX
Solidago rigidaStiff goldenrodHerbaceous plantFull sun, Part-ShadeXLateXX
Symphyotrichum lateriflorumCalico asterHerbaceous plantFull sunXLateXX

Agapostemon metallica on Symphyotrichum sp.

Agapostemon metallica on Symphyotrichum sp.
Photo by Karl Foord

Apis Mellifera on Dalea purpurea

Apis mellifera on Dalea purpurea
Photo by Heather Holm

Bombus auricomus on Monarda fistulosa

Bombus auricomus on Monarda fistulosa
Photo by Karl Foord