Trees for bees: the best bee friendly trees


For me plants are some of the most exciting living beings, even though they live in slow motion. They have fascinating abilities and just so much potential! That's why I studied organic farming. However, since plants are rather thin on the ground in my city, I often spend time hiking in the nearby mountains at the weekend. In the future I would love to run a farm myself.

Favourite fruit: strawberries and gooseberries
Favourite vegetable: courgettes

Which trees best support pollinators? What are the best trees for your garden? Here are 10 bee friendly trees and shrubs that will keep your garden buzzing.

A bee investigates the blossoms of an apricot tree
For bees and other insects, a constant supply of flowers is vital throughout the warmer months [Photo: Kateryna Ovcharenko/]

Our ecosystems rely on healthy insect populations. Unfortunately, insects are struggling and the statistics aren’t good. By planting bee-friendly flowers and trees in your garden, you can support bees for years to come. 

During spring, honeybee and bumblebee colonies begin to form after a long hibernation. However, they will not produce honey immediately; the colony’s main goal is to find pollen and nectar. Pollen is vital for rearing the young, and bee hatchlings require nectar to properly develop.

Do remember though: different plants bloom at different times of the year. So if you can, try to provide insects with year-round support. Here are ten trees that do just that!

1. Willows (Salix)

In addition to the honeybee, over 500 indigenous insect species and numerous moths benefit from the early flowering of the willow. An important member of the willow family, the common willow (Salix caprea), blooms as early as March and April and is a vital food source for bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies and honeybees. Nearly 60 species of wild bees visit the flowers of the Salix caprea in spring. The male willow catkins mainly provide pollen, while the female catkins are rich in nectar.

A bee clings to a willow catkin
Willow catkins provide a rich source of nutrients for countless insects [Photo: prambuwesas/]

2. South European flowering ash or manna ash (Fraxinus ornus)

The flowers of the flowering ash tree are not particularly rich in nectar, but they are rich in pollen. Between May and June, the tree is covered with white, fragrant panicles (loosely branched clusters of flowers) that are sure to attract countless bumblebees and bees.

3. Norway maple (Acer platanoides)

This pointed maple can begin to flower in early March. The early blossoms provide enough food for the insects to survive until fruit trees flower later in the year. In this way, trees like the Norway maple not only help honeybees overcome the hardships of winter, but kickstart their production of honey later in the year.

4. Fruit trees (Prunus, Malus and Pyrus)

Fruit trees are a beautiful addition to any garden and are sure to attract bees. Cherry plum (Prunus cerasifera) and blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) provide plenty of food early in the season, before other fruit trees such as sweet cherry, plum, apple and pear begin to blossom.

A bee gathers from the pink flowers of a peach tree
For bees and butterflies, the blossoms of a peach tree are a treat [Photo: Klagyivik Viktor/]

5. Horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)

The horse chestnut is known for its vibrant flowering between April and June. It blooms for a long time and not only supplies heaps of pollen, but also propolis, which bees need as putty resin for building their colonies.

6. Hybrid cokspurthorn or Lavallée’s hawthorn (Crataegus x lavallei ‘Carrierei’)

The apple thorn is a favourite of many a bee and bumblebee. Its decorative white flowers, which emerge between May and June, provide a rich food source for local bees and a beautiful focal point in the garden. 

7. Black locusts or false acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia)

When it comes to attracting insects, the black locust tree is famous. Though originally from the east coast of the United States, this wonderful tree is widespread in Europe after arriving on our shores around 300 years ago. Flowering for about two weeks at the end of May and into June, the black locust attracts insects, including bees and hoverflies, with fructose-rich nectar. The fructose helps keep the nectar liquid for longer. What is more, beekeepers will delight in coveted acacia honey that is produced from the flowers.

A bee collects from the white blossom of a black locust
Though not entirely native, this tree is vital for many insects who cannot find flowers in the summer [Photo: NazarPro/]

8. Lime tree or linden trees (Tilia spec.)

In late summer, between July and August, linden trees begin to flower. Stand under one, and you will hear just how popular it is; bees are particularly fond of them in the evening. Whichever tree blooms last is known as the silver lime. This special tree actually produces no nectar, but with a delicious scent, will still attract plenty of bees. If you do plant a silver lime, be sure to offer alternative sources of food.

9. Bee-bee tree or Korean evodia (Tetradium daniellii var. hupehensi / Euodia hupehensis)

The rich flowers of the Asian bee-bee tree bloom until August and provide insects with plenty of nectar and pollen. The pollen in particular is extremely nutritious!

10. Japanese pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum)

The Japanese pagoda continues to flower long after many other woody plants have withered. Its other name, the honey tree, certainly lives up to its name: throughout August and September, the tree fluoresces white-yellow and releases plenty of nectar to supply the local bees.

A blossoming pagoda stem
The Japanese pagoda tree is one of the last to bloom in the year [Photo: Valentin Kundeus/]

Looking for more bee friendly plants? Find 10 bee friendly herbs for the garden in our dedicated article.