Bee-friendly Aromatic Plants: Photo Credit, fotolia
Bee-friendly Aromatic Plants: Photo Credit, fotolia

Bees are extremely important to an aromatic garden; they pollinate many aromatic plants, especially herbs, establishing a mutually beneficial relationship between insect and plant. Bees need the nectar and pollen gathered from these plants and herbs to to provide both carbohydrates and protein, respectively, to the bees.1 The plants and herbs need the bees to pollinate them in order to continue the next generation of plants and herbs. Bees love plants that are of certain colors, shapes, accessible, and that are fragrant. Although there are many bee-friendly plants, this article will briefly look at some of the plants and herbs that may attract bees to your aromatic garden.

Traditional Aromatic Herbs for a Bee-friendly Garden

No matter the size of your garden, herbs are both easy to grow and a simple way to attract bees. Bees love the fragrance and flowers of the following herbs:

  • mint – peppermint (Mentha x piperita) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) are probably the two most common species of mint found in herb gardens.

  • Sage – common sage (Salvia officinalis), clary sage (Salvia sclarea), lavender sage (Salvia lavandulifolia), Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), pineapple sage (Salvia elegans)2 – in fact, bees love all species of sage!

  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) – this strongly lemon-scented herb attracts bees with its overpowering aroma.

  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) – an early season bloomer, rosemary produces pale blue flowers that are irresistible to bees. Here in Arizona, rosemary can bloom in the New Year, providing early signs of spring if the weather is warm enough to entice bees out.

  • Lavender – true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia), lavandin (Lavandula x intermedia) and many other lavender hybrid species attract bees year-round, depending upon your location.

  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) – another traditional herb that is bee-friendly.

Bee-friendly Plants Used in Aromatherapy

In addition to herbs, there are other types of aromatic plants that will attract bees to your garden. These include:

  • rose (Rosa spp.)3 – there are many species and subspecies of rose that bees find friendly; think fragrance and color! Depending upon the species, rose is used to produce an essential oil, absolute, and concrete for aromatherapy and perfumery purposes.

  • Borage (Borago officinalis) – this pretty, tiny blue flower produces a carrier oil for aromatherapy and, although not that fragrant when compared to some other species, bees love it!

  • Geranium (Pelargonium spp.)3 – Just like rose, there are many species and cultivars of geranium – both attractive to bees and those which are used in aromatherapy (although Pelargonium graveolens is the traditional species for essential oil extraction).

  • Calendula (Calendula officinalis)4 – single-headed flowers are best, as bees don’t do well with double forms of flowers species (often cultivars and hybrids). Calendula is used to create an infused oil for aromatherapy.

  • Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)4 – choose varieties for a bee-friendly garden carefully, as some sunflowers are pollen-less. Sunflower seeds are cold pressed to produce a carrier oil for aromatherapy.

  • Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus)4 – a gorgeous, vivid-blue flower that attracts bees – and produces a hydrosol for aromatherapy.

Learn More About Aromatic Plants with Sedona Aromatherapie

There are many different plants that are used in aromatherapy and which attract bees to your garden. To learn more about aromatherapy, consider one of the Sedona Aromatherapie home study courses!


  1. North Carolina State University Co-operative Extension PDF Booklet, Bee-friendly Flowers, accessed March 14, 2016

  2. Sedona Aromatherapie Sage Aromatherapy Course, 2012, Sedona: Arizona

  3. The British Beekeepers Association PDF Booklet, Pollen and Nectar Rich Plants for Your Garden by Season, accessed March 14, 2016

  4. Honey Love Urban Beekeepers website, Top 30 Flowers for Bees, accessed March 14, 2016

  • Author is a UK-certified aromatherapist, published author in aromatherapy, an approved education provider for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), an aromatherapy business owner, and Chief Editor for the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal.

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