Bees like lavender and will be attracted to the smell and bright purple color of the lavender flowers. Bees will visit lavender to collect nectar to make honey. All varieties of lavender will attract bees including French, English and Italian lavender. If you want lots of bees in your garden in spring and summer, plant lavender.
Why bees like lavender
- Purple color of the flowers is attractive to bees
- Fragrance of the lavender smells great to bees
- Nectar in the flower attracts bees
- French, English and Italian lavender will all attract bees when they flower
Why bees are attracted to lavender
Bees are attracted to lavender because it has a strong, attractive smell and color. This is a natural way that the lavender has developed to encourage bees them to visit and pollenate the plant. Bees will visit lavender to collect nectar to bring back to the hive to make honey.
Nectar is a sweet substance made by the plant. At the same time the bees are collecting nectar, they will move pollen from flower to flower, fertilizing them.
Lavender and bees have developed a relationship in which the lavender provides nectar for bees to turn into honey and the bees will fertilize the plants by moving pollen from flower to flower. The pollen will stick to the bees’ legs as they collect nectar from the flower.
Lavender does not keep bees away
Lavender does not keep bees away, instead they are the perfect flower for your garden to attract more bees. I recently bought a bee hotel and included with the hotel to attract more bees was a packet of seeds that included lavender. The bright purple, pink or white flowers of the lavender will attract passing bees to collect nectar.
Lavender attracts bees and wasps
Lavender will attract bees and wasps but it may be difficult tell the difference. Lots of wasps look very similar to bees and will collect nectar from your lavender flowers to feed on. Small, yellow and black wasps visit flowers to collect nectar just like bees and move quite quickly from flower to flower.
Wasps are known to be predators and they will hunt insects to feed their young. The adult wasps however will feed on the sugars in the nectar of flowers including lavender. When the adult wasps are eating the nectar they will become accidental pollinators and move pollen from flower to flower.
Bees get pollen from lavender
Bees will get pollen stuck to their legs and underbodies when they are collecting nectar from the lavender flower. The pollen sticks to the bees’ body as it collects the nectar and it will travel with them when they fly from flower to flower. This is the natural process of pollination making bees essential for the lavender plant to reproduce.
After the lavender flower has been pollinated, it will set seed to produce new plants. You can collect this seed by chopping off dry lavender heads and placing them in a brown paper bag. Over a few weeks they will dry out completely, give them a shake and the seeds will drop out.
How to keep bees away from lavender
If you want to keep bees away from your lavender the best way is to remove the flower heads immediately. As soon as the flowers sprout yellow, pink or white blooms, bees will be attracted to them. If you are worried about being stung by the bees, then remove the flower heads.
I remember when I was young, my grandmother’s driveway had large lavender shrubs planted either side. Every spring and summer they were covered with bees and we were told by our parents to keep away. As expected, we would go and watch the bees anyway and nobody got stung.
Most of the time, when bees are busy collecting nectar they are not interested in stinging anyone. It is only if they themselves, the hive or the queen appear threatened. Lots of bee stings happen when bees are accidentally stepped on when they are on the ground. Keep your shoes on and keep an eye out for bees to avoid getting stung. Otherwise, you will miss out on the beautiful blooms of the lavender.
Is lavender good for bees?
Bee keepers will plant lavender near their hives to provide nectar for their bee colonies. The flavor and smell of the lavender will come through the honey in a very mild way. Small producers across Australia are starting to stock lavender honey, check out this link here for one in Tasmania.
True lavender honey is different to most honeys which are flavored with dried lavender flowers or lavender extract. As the lavender flower is edible, it can be dried and added to flavor foods. True lavender honey is rare as a large amount of lavender would need to be grown to provide enough honey for multiple bee hives to pick up the lavender flavor.
Types of bees attracted to lavender
Research by the university of Sussex has shown that more bumblebees are attracted to lavender than honey bees. This is because the nectar in the lavender flower is deeper down inside the flower making it harder for honey bees to reach. Bumblebees have a longer tongue so can more easily reach the nectar in the lavender flower. This means they can visit more lavender flowers quicker than honey bees.
For honey bees to reach the nectar in lavender flowers they need to shove their head inside the flower deeper because they have a shorter tongue. Because of the extra time it takes for honey bees to collect the tiny amount of nectar in the flowers, this research suggest that honey bees would need a whole week visiting 300,000 flowers to collect enough nectar to make a teaspoon of honey out of lavender flowers.
Honey bees will visit many flower types on their journey to make their honey and they will visit your lavender in your garden when it is in bloom. If this is the only flower on offer to the bees, they will be glad to visit your lavender flowers and collect nectar to make honey.