Planting a garden that provides forage for bees and other pollinators is not as simple as planting plants and shrubs that bees like. It also involves understanding foraging behavior.
Bees are “concentrator” pollinators. That means that they prefer a large concentration of whatever plant they are targeting… and what they are targeting is not random. Plants release nectar and pollen differently — at different times of the day, for example — as an evolutionary adaption for attracting the exact pollinator it seeks (the one that will best advance the next generation of the species of plant). Foragers, therefore, are better served by a garden that not only has variety, but also has enough of each plant. A well designed bee garden has “plots” of plants, 3 x 3 (meters or feet) is ideal, rather than 2 single-roses here and 2 asters there, etc.
There are many great gardening websites as well as many great nurseries. So rather than re-invent the wheel, here is a list of just a few good garden selections for each season in a northern California garden. A visit to Dr. Gordon Frankie’s (UC Berkeley) site, and particularly the California Habitat Gardening page is highly recommended.
Spring (March, April & May)
Summer (June, July & August)
Fall (September & October)