Honeybees and their many relatives make life sweet for us. Without bees many of our favorite foods and flowers would not be available. From apples to ornamentals to zuchinni, we rely on bees for pollination. According to the USDA, one-third of our diet is made possible by insect pollinators, and approximately 80 percent of that pollination is due to bees. By creating a wildlife garden design with long blooming, drought-resistant Salvias and other flowers for bees, home gardeners can provide the nectar and pollen that these tiny pollinators need to survive.
Drought is causing shortages of many flowering plants on which bees survive. Food loss, both through drought and climate change, is one of many factors that bee researchers say is likely contributing to honey bee deaths.
The Haagen-Daz Honey Bee Haven of the University of California, Davis, in July 2014 reported that "few plants show their value as bee plants for hot, dry gardens better than the salvias." UC Davis even includes red-flowering species among its bee favorites, although some bee researchers say that bees mostly can't see reds.
Many factors affect honeybee choices, including markings on flowers that are called "beelines." These marks contain ultra-violet colors that humans can't see. Like lit-up runways, they guide bees to the pollen and nectar they need. Perhaps this characteristic enables bees to access red flowers.
This list offers honey bees' favorite flowers in many colors grown at Flowers by the Sea, one of the nation's best online plant nurseries.