Bees in Minnesota

Leslie Scharafanow

Chisago County Master Gardener

When I opened my 2014 Minnesota Gardening calendar, put out by University of Minnesota Extension, I found a great article on bees and plants that are bee friendly.   Did you know these facts?

– Some flowers (such as tomatoes) provide bees with pollen, a good source of protein that bees use to feed their young.

– Some flowers (such as clover) provide both pollen and nectar, for protein and carbohydrates. Bees convert nectar into honey.

– There are hundreds of bee species in Minnesota. Different bees prefer different flowers, depending on the physical size and shape of the bee and of the flower.

– Some bees, called specialists, are able to raise their young only with pollen from particular plants. Other bees, called generalists, can use pollen from many different plants to raise their young.

– Different species of bees emerge at different times. Each species may be present in the garden for only a few weeks.

– Honeybees and bumble bees are present throughout the entire spring, summer and fall gardening season.

To learn more about bees in Minnesota, visit The beelab article lists native plants that attract bees, including wild geranium, wild lupine, mountain mint, purple prairie clover, bee balm, coneflower and cup plant.

Insecticides, fungicides and herbicides can be very harmful to bees. For a list of garden products that are potentially harmful to bees and other pollinators, visit