This One Weird Shrub! Bees LOVE it!
May 16, 2018 8:53 PM   Subscribe

There's this weird shrub, which is swarming with hundreds of bumblebees. I love bumblebees and I want to plant one of these in my own yard. What kind of shrub is it? I'm near Seattle. Pic 1, 2, 3.

It doesn't have any smell that I can discern, it's evergreen, and kind of stiff and bristly. Seems very low-care.
posted by The otter lady to Science & Nature (13 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
posted by carterk at 9:12 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]

That looks like it! Thank you!
posted by The otter lady at 9:20 PM on May 16

Bumblebees love lavender too. Grows like a treat here in Seattle, smells lovely.
posted by rouftop at 9:33 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]

Ceanothus (California Lilac) also grows abundantly in Seattle and attracts hordes of bees. It’s the broccoli-clumpy shrub with the blue-purple flowers.
posted by matildaben at 9:58 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]

I love lavender but while it'll grow like a weed a mile away, it doesn't like my own yard, though I've tried... I also love ceanothus and maybe this is a good year to add one! Thank you!
posted by The otter lady at 10:04 PM on May 16

Bees also need water. If there isn't a water source near by you might consider a bird bath to keep them happy.
posted by Mitheral at 11:02 PM on May 16 [2 favorites]

I love lavender but while it'll grow like a weed a mile away, it doesn't like my own yard, though I've tried...

Lavender prefers an alkaline soil. If you want to get a bit scientific about understanding the soil pH as seen by plant roots in various places around your garden, you can do test plantings of hydrangeas, which will bloom pink in alkaline soils and blue in acidic ones.

Or you could just dig up the patch where you want to put your lavender and work in a bit of lime or dolomite and see if your lavender plants do better.
posted by flabdablet at 5:32 AM on May 17 [3 favorites]

I grow globe thistle and the bumblebees like it a lot.
posted by theora55 at 6:30 AM on May 17

I have a catmint plant and bumblebees seem to like it. It grows easily, is a perennial, and has cute little lavender flowers.
posted by dust.wind.dude at 8:10 AM on May 17

If you grow any kale or related veggies, let at least one plant flower, and ALL the pollinators will thank you. We counted over 15 different types of pollinators on a flowering kale last week - from bumbles to any number of teeny-tiny wasp-ish things, to a number of flies? I think? Anyway - they love it!
posted by dbmcd at 9:16 AM on May 17 [1 favorite]

Was visiting a friend last week who has borage growing in her yard. It was full of bees. This is SoCal though, and she cautioned me that while she started with one plant it has really taken off, so it's apparently mildly invasive if you don't keep on top of it.

Years ago I threw down a "Mixed Salad" see packet in my garden. I never got around to harvesting whatever came up and it bolted, the bees really loved that too.
posted by vignettist at 9:47 AM on May 17

For another easy bush: we had a ton of bees on our camelia plant last weekend. It flowers early for the bees, and sometimes again in fall. They really like it. (Portland, Oregon climate. We do nothing for the tree, and it's happy with that arrangement.)
posted by hydra77 at 11:06 AM on May 17

I've found that bees also like oregano and parsley. Usually you want to pick the parsley before it flowers, but sometimes I don't need parsley and it bolts.
posted by fiercekitten at 10:30 PM on May 17

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