Trees can provide a life-saving source of forage for pollinators like bees, bumblebees, and butterflies. The pollen and nectar are nutrient-rich and often arrive in the months when other sources of food are scarce.
Planting bee-friendly trees for bees is an excellent way to help reverse the decline in worldwide bee numbers. But you need to choose the right species – some will provide limited nectar while others may repel insects! Keep reading as we reveal 22 of the best trees that attract bees.
What are the top trees for honey bees?
Some of the best trees you can plant for bees include the red maple, linden, hazel, serviceberry, and redbud. If you’re looking for long-blooming trees then consider the crepe myrtle or the horse chestnut.
1. Red Maple
The red maple is a tall deciduous tree that is basically a pollen factory for honeybees. It produces red flowers and fruit that bees are highly attracted to. Their brilliant red fall foliage makes them as popular with humans as they are with insects.
If you’re looking for a smaller option, consider the Japanese maple.
The linden tree, or basswood, offers a bountiful source of pollen that bees will travel long distances to get to. Its small yellowish-white flowers bloom from late spring to summer and they’re packed with an alluring fragrance.
Although the flowering season is short-lived, there are huge numbers of flowers that bees love. So much so, that Lindens are also known as “bee trees”.
The littleleaf and silver lindens are good choices to consider planting.
The hazel tree is a small to medium-sized tree that is better known for its delicious hazelnuts. It is easy to grow and offers a pollen-only source of food for honey bees during early forage, February and March.
The serviceberry tree is an American native that tolerates cold winters. Their pink and white flowers are one of the first to appear in spring, making them an excellent choice for beekeepers.
Those in the west of the United States may consider the Saskatoon serviceberry. The common and Canadian serviceberry are both popular species in the east.
Other names for the serviceberry tree include the shadbush, shadblow, shadwood, and juneberry.
No list of nectar-producing trees would be complete without a mention of the redbud tree. In early to mid-spring, its unique mauve-pink blooms sprout up all over the tree including the branches and trunk.
There are a variety of redbud species that range in size so do your research before planting one.
6. Oak tree
If you’ve got the space, oak trees can grow very large, providing a bounty of vibrant flowers filled with pollen. They are very useful trees not only for bees but also for over 500 pollinator species.
Oaks provide a food source as well as shelter from the elements. With a life expectancy of up to one thousand years, they’ll potentially help billions of insects live happier lives.
If you live next to a water source or in an area that gets plenty of rainfall, an alder tree could be a good option to plant. They don’t need bees for pollination, so bees won’t get access to any nectar from this tree. However, they offer an abundant supply of pollen in early spring when other food supplies are in short supply.
8. Crepe Myrtle
The crepe myrtle, or crape myrtle, is a honey-making factory for the hive. Its flowers have bright, multi-colored that appeal to bees.
Blossoms appear in late spring and may still be in bloom until the fall. That’s a long time to provide honey bees with nectar and pollen. As winter approaches and many plants stop flowering, crepe myrtle will keep on giving.
Crabapple trees are popular with a wide range of pollinators including honey bees and mason bees. Its flowers provide the perfect recipe for honey, loaded with nectar and pollen.
A crabapple tree is an excellent option for anyone with a small yard. It doesn’t take up much room and offers an impressive splash of color in spring. Best of all, they don’t require a lot of care but enjoy a cool climate.
10. Tulip Poplar
One of the best trees for honeybees and hummingbirds must be the tulip poplar. Their blooms are riddled with so much nectar that one 20-foot tree can produce eight pounds of nectar. Source.
The honey produced by hives adjacent to tulip poplars is dark, rich, and sought after.
11. Golden rain
The Koelreuteria, or Golden Rain tree, is a medium-sized deciduous tree that is native to eastern and southern Asia. This tree serves up a buffet of nectar for your bees, although its flowering season is relatively short-lived each year.
12. Japanese snowball
The Japanese snowbell is a graceful deciduous tree that grows to around 40 feet in height. Its snow-white, sweet-smelling flowers are bell-shaped and hang down along its branches.
Bees have roughly 3 weeks to get their fill before blooming ends. During this time, the tree produces masses of flowers that attract a tremendous number of bees.
13. Horse chestnut
Horse chestnut trees are handy for drawing in birds, butterflies, and bees. Their vivid flowers can be seen from April to June in the United States. With this long blooming season, bees can use the tree as a long-lasting source of pollen, nectar, and propolis. Also check out our guide to harvesting propolis.
14. Fruit trees
Fruit trees may provide us with healthy produce, but they’re also ideal for honey bees. Cherry, apple, pear, plum, and peach trees are all ideal trees for beekeepers and their hives. You may want to also plant an early flowering fruit tree like the blackthorn or cherry plum. That way, you extend the foraging season for the bees.
Sourwood honey is extremely popular in some parts of North America. It is revered for its enticing amber color, smooth texture, and buttery caramel flavor.
Also known as sorrel, this tree’s long white clusters of flowers are slightly fragrant and are inviting to insects like moths and bees.
The nectar provided by tupelo trees is much-loved by pollinators. While their flowers aren’t showy, they allow a colony to produce excellent honey. If you live in swampy, wet areas or sloughs then the water tupelo is a great choice. The black tupelo is better suited to sandy, well-drained soil.
17. Black Locust
The black locust is renowned for tempting bees and hoverflies throughout the United States and other parts of the world. Its aromatic blooms arrive in late spring and provide fructose-rich nectar for about two weeks.
Black locust trees allow honey bees to produce acacia honey. It is prized for its taste and high antioxidant content.
The scented flowers of the common willow tree will attract over 500 species of insect. Included in that tally are almost 60 wild bee species that use the flowers as a vital foraging source. They bloom in March and April, providing both pollen and nectar.
19. Southern Magnolia
The southern magnolia is a lovely ornamental that thrives in the Pacific Northwest and the South. They produce exceptional perfumed white blossoms that can grow a foot wide! That means a lot of nectar and pollen is on offer, which bees happily collect.
20. Sweet Gum
The sweet gum, or Liquidambar, is a large deciduous tree that is best suited to large gardens. It is a hardy tree that will tolerate a wide range of growing conditions.
The sweet gum’s flowers may be inconspicuous, but their smell attracts bees en masse.
21. Japanese pagoda
The Japanese pagoda is an impressive-looking medium to tall tree that is native to Korea, China, and Vietnam. Also known as the honey tree, it produces white nectar-laden flowers late in the foraging season.
22. Bee bee tree
The bee bee tree is a small tree that has a prolonged blooming season that honey bees appreciate. Also known as the Korean evodia, this tree grows impressive fragrant clusters of flowers that pollinators can’t resist.
Summary table: Top trees for honey bees
Check out the table below which summarizes 22 trees that are ideal for attracting bees. We’ve included the scientific name as a handy reference.
|Common Tree Name||Scientific Name|
|Red Maple||Acer rubrum|
|Eastern Redbud||Cercis canadensis|
|Crepe Myrtle||Lagerstroemia indica|
|Tulip Poplar||Liriodendron tulipifera|
|Golden Rain||Koelreuteria paniculata|
|Japanese snowball||Viburnum plicatum|
|Horse chestnut||Aesculus hippocastanum|
|Black Tupelo||Nyssa sylvatica|
|Black Locust||Robinia pseudoacacia|
|Southern Magnolia||Magnolia grandiflora|
|Sweet Gum||Liquidambar styraciflua|
|Japanese pagoda||Styphnolobium japonicum|
|Bee bee tree||Tetradium daniellii|