Flowers for Honey Bees and Wild Bees

Learn more about the preferred flowers of honey bees and wild bees in the Prairie Pothole Region

The following factsheet is a result of work done by Clint Otto and colleagues at the USGS-Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown, North Dakota. Clint’s team developed the factsheet in part with information gathered through the Bee Integrated project that is coordinated by the Honey Bee Health Coalition. It highlights forbs that are preferred by honey bees and wild bees in the Prairie Pothole Region. This research was supported by five years of field data and over 8,000 bee-flower observations. Their future goal is to mail this factsheet to USDA (also a partner) offices within their study region.

Common name
Scientific name
Indigenous statusa
Life cycleb
Bloom periodc
Honey bees—Preferred flowering plants (listed from most preferred to least preferred)
Showy milkweed Asclepias speciosa Native P June–August
Common milkweed Asclepias syriaca Native P June–August
Lacy phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia Introduced A June–September
Lavender hyssop Agastache foeniculum Native P June–September
Charlock mustard Sinapis arvensis Introduced A June–September
Sainfoin Onobrychis viciifolia Introduced P June–September
Purple prairie clover Dalea purpurea Native P June–September
Alsike clover Trifolium hybridum Introduced A, P June–September
Rigid goldenrod Solidago rigida Native P July–September
Sweet clover Melilotus officinalis Introduced A–B June–September
Bergamot Monarda fistulosa Native P July–September
Wild bees—Preferred flowering plants (listed from most preferred to least preferred)
Lacy phacelia Phacelia tanacetifolia Introduced A June–September
Rigid goldenrod Solidago rigida Native P July–September
Purple coneflower Echinacea purpurea Native P July–September
Maximilian sunflower Helianthus maximiliani Native P June–September
Grey-headed coneflower Ratibida pinnata Native P June–September
Blanketflower Gaillardia aristata Native P June–September
Lavender hyssop Agastache foeniculum Native P June–September
Bergamot Monarda fistulosa Native P July–September
Purple prairie clover Dalea purpurea Native P June–September
Ox-eye sunflower Heliopsis helianthoides Native P June–September

aIndigenous status was determined from U.S. Department of Agriculture Plants Database (https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/) as being native to any of the States encompassing the Prairie Pothole Region. Bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare), Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense), and field sowthistle (Sonchus arvensis) were preferred by bees but are not included in this table because they are State-listed noxious weeds. Some native or introduced species listed in this table may be considered weedy—consult with local recommendations before seeding.

bAccording to U.S. Department of Agriculture Plants Database (https://plants.sc.egov.usda.gov/).

cBloom period is based on the first and last observations of the plant flowering in the 5-year dataset from data collected June–September each year.

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