Catching The Buzz

Bees are our friends and allies, and right now they need our help. The stewardship that bees have always provided the natural world is foundational to human and ecosystem health.

Fully 75% of the world’s plants and about 30% of human food crops depend on bees and other pollinators to reproduce. Unfortunately, our farming and landscaping methods are doing so much damage to bees that many types of bees are facing extinction here at home and around the world.

The Rusty Patch Bumblebee, Minnesota’s new state bee was recently listed as an endangered species. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, “Rusty patched bumble bees once occupied grasslands and tall grass prairies of the Upper Midwest and Northeast, but most grasslands and prairies have been lost, degraded, or fragmented by conversion to other uses.” The Rusty Patch is a good indicator species.

We know that as Rusty Patch bumblebees disappear, so too do many other bee species facing the same pressures. In addition to facing a loss of habitat, bees and other pollinators are very vulnerable to a wide range of harms from pesticides.

Herbicides kill flowering plants that bees rely on. Insecticides that kill pests also kill bees and butterflies. Fungicides that kill plant diseases also sicken and kill bees that make their home in the soil.

All the various forms of pesticides that we use on a massive scale in agriculture and horticulture are decimating bee populations. As the bees go, so too does our opportunity to live in a functioning, healthy ecosystem.

The GOOD NEWS is, we all have a huge opportunity to help Rusty and all his pollinator pals. By planting bee-lawns, pollinator patches, prairies, and food forests and by supporting organic farmers we can protect and grow the population of Rusty Patch Bumblebees and hundreds of other important pollinators.

The easiest way to protect pollinators in your home landscape is to replace your regular lawn with a bee-lawn!

Bee friendly lawns are grown with blooming ground cover plants such as clover, thyme, and self-heal combined with no-mow fescue grass. Bee lawns are visually appealing with blossoms throughout the season, while also providing food bees and other pollinators.

If you want a bee lawn, let us know by filling out the contact form below. We can install a bee lawn for you! We offer moderate and rapid transition options.

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, here’s a great method to grow your own Bee Lawn at home:

  • Aerate and over-seed your existing lawn using a core aerator and bee lawn mix three times per season, early spring, late summer, early fall.

  • Aerator can be rented from Reddy Rents and Bee Lawn seed mix can be purchased from Twin Cities Seed.

  • Run the aerator over the lawn 2-3 times over all parts of the lawn. Seed according to instructions on the bag, usually about 4 lb/1000 sq ft

  • Mow less. The best approach is to mow only one time at the end of the season in late August.

  • Eliminate pesticides, fertilizers, and turn off your irrigation. Bee lawn plants do better without pampering.

  • Anytime you mow, keep your mower deck height adjusted as high as it will go and keep your blade sharp. Never mow shorter than 3.5” in a bee lawn.

  • This moderate transition takes 1-2 seasons till the lawn is thick and filled with blooms for bees.

  • Moderate transitions can be started at any time during the spring, summer, or fall.

The Minnesota Legislature recently set aside funding to encourage homeowners to grow bee lawns. You can sign up here to apply for a grant and take advantage of this opportunity to pollinate the community!

Feeding Our Local Pollinators

The best lawn is a garden. Planting selections from this Bumble Bee Bonanza Buffet will convert your lawn into a bee-safe habitat!


Bee Lawn: pollinator habitat plants under 8” tall that are walkable, mow-able, lawn or ground cover ready

Sun or Shade

  • White Clover: 3-4”, excellent ground cover, cover crop, or lawn plant. Blooms spring, summer, & fall. Feeds over 50 species of bees.

  • Self-Heal: 3-10”, purple blooms, member of the mint family. Blooms spring, summer, & fall.

  • Blue Violet: 4-8”, blue blooms. Valued native plant, important part of a shady bee lawn. Blooms spring.

  • Black Medic: 2-4”, great for honeybees. Lovely yellow blooms spring, summer, & fall.

  • Good Time Charlie: 2-6”, honeybees love the purple flowers. Blooms spring, summer, & fall. Bees love this plant we have called creeping Charlie. Nobody likes a creep though so we renamed our friend, Good Time Charlie.

  • Dandelion: 4-8”, very important nectar source in the early spring. Blooms spring, summer, and fall.

  • Wood Sorrel: 2-4”, yellow flowers. Blooms spring, summer, and fall.

  • Prairie Pussytoes

  • Scilla: 2-4”, blue flowers above slender stems. Plant bulbs in the fall. Blooms very early spring.

  • Fescue Grass: 4-8” Sheep’s Fescue, Red Fescue, Hard Fescue, and Chewing’s Fescue are all species that when combined work very well at forming a no-mow turf that will mix with and support all the blooming bee lawn plants. You’ll want to limit mowing to once per season or less.

Full Sun

  • Crocus: 3-5”, purple-white flowers. Plant bulbs in the fall. Blooms very early spring.

  • Thyme: 1-2”, pink flowers. Drought tolerant ground cover. Blooms in summer.

Tonight’s Special

Trees for Bees

  • Linden: Early spring blooms very important source of pollen. Leaves are edible for people, especially in the spring when they are most tender.

  • Redbud: Excellent understory tree that honey and bumble bees love. Red-purple blooms are on bare stems are spring delight.

  • Maple: Early spring blooms very important source of pollen. Silver, sugar, Norway, red and Canadian maples are all great additions to the landscape. Silver maples do better in the city or in low wet areas, sugar maples do better in well drained soils.

  • Catalpa: Stunning white spring blooms bring in an abundance of bees. Catalpa looks like a tree that only Dr. Seuss could have imagined. Huge leaves, blooms, and BEANS!

  • Hawthorne: Beekeepers know this tree is a source for one of the finest honeys in the world. Spring blooms important pollen source in drier years.

  • Black Locust: Famous for producing a fragrant, floral honey. Black locust are one of the honey bee’s favorite trees.

  • Willow: Very early blooms are incredibly important for bees. Sometimes blooms in Feb or March in years with early spring. Perfect example of how wind pollinated trees are important food sources for bees.

  • Mountain Ash: White spring blooms are visually stunning and highly attractive to pollinators. Orange fruit in the fall attract native and migrating birds. Not susceptible to emerald ash borer.

  • Fruit Trees: Bees love fruit trees. Pollination services performed by bees allow people and the rest of the wild kingdom to eat the fruits of bee’s labor.

  • Pears: Plant pears in pairs to promote pollination. Parker and Summercrisp are good pairing.

  • Plums: Bumble bees love plums and so do people. Plant the MN native wild plum to feed native bees.

  • Apples: of Choose your favorite flavor of apple to grow at home and feed the bees while you feed your family. Bees love apple trees!

  • Cherries: Several varieties of cherry tree for MN climate. Food for bees and people!

  • Serviceberry: Flowers in early spring followed by spring berries. Bees and birds adore serviceberry.

  • Chestnut Crabapple: Larger fruiting crabapple. Spring buffet for bumble and honey bees.

Side Dishes

Medium Height Habitat: Pollinator habitat plants under 36” tall, perfect for the urban garden setting.


  • Purple Prairie Clover: 8-24”, blooms purple in summer. Frequented by many butterflies and bees.

  • Yarrow: 2-4’, blooms white, yellow, pink, red. Summer blooms, smells wonderful.

  • Butterfly Weed: 18-24”, blooms orange. Monarch habitat plant, summer blooms loved by bees too.

  • Calamintha Nepeta Marvelette: 12-18” tall. Drives honeybees wild. Blooms in summer white to light purple.

  • Cat Mint Walker’s Low: 12-18” tall. Drives honeybees wild. Blooms summer & fall. Purple-blue blooms.

  • Sedum Autumn Joy: 12-18” tall. Blooms pink-red in late summer & fall.

  • Rudbeckia: 2-3’ tall. Blooms yellow in summer. Aka Black Eyed Susan.

  • Red Clover: 18-20” Blooms in purple red. Excellent cover crop.

  • Hairy Vetch: 12-24” Blooms in purple. Excellent cover crop.

  • Partridge Pea: 12-36” Blooms in yellow, native self-seeding annual.

  • Prairie Sage: 2-3’ Yellowish disk flowers bloom in summer.

  • Borage: 2-3’ Blooms in stunning blue in summer. Self-seeding annual.

  • Oregano: 10-18” White-pink flowers. Good ground cover. Blooms summer & fall.

  • Chives: 10-12” Purple blooms. White blooms on garlic chives. Blooms in spring.

  • Golden Alexander: 12-36” Golden yellow blooms in spring and early summer.

  • Slender Mountain Mint: 24-36” White blooms over fine textured foliage in summer.

  • Little Blue Stem: 18-24” Perfect spreading short prairie grass for bee gardens.

  • Sweet Grass: 12-24” Excellent rain garden or moist soil spreader. Smells like spring.


  • Virginia Bluebells: 18-24” tall. Delicate texture. Amazing blue blooms in the spring.

  • Hosta: 18-36” Old fashioned favorites and new varieties. Beloved by bumble bees. White to purple. Spring to summer.

  • Columbine: 18-36” Red blooms on soft texture plant in Springtime. Spreads by seed.

  • Celandine Poppy: 12-24” Brilliant yellow blooms in Spring. Self-sowing woodland favorite.

  • Cardinal Flower: 24-36” Bright cardinal red blooms Summer to Fall. Attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

  • Blue Lobelia: 24-26” Deep blue blooms late summer to late fall. Spreads readily by seed. Attracts hummingbirds.

  • Wild Geranium: 12-24” Must have, purple-blue blooms in the spring. Good for mason bees.

  • Ostrich Fern: 2-4’ Large feather-like fronds growing in a vase shape. Wonderful in a massing or as a specimen.

  • Pennsylvania Sedge: 6-12” Elegant arching dark green foliage. Excellent for massing in woodland gardens.

  • Blood Root: 6-9” White blooms and unique broad foliage. Harbingers of spring. Native to deciduous woodland.

  • Foam Flower: 6-12” White or pink delicate blooms in May. Heart shaped leaves. Rabbit and deer tolerant.

  • Virginia Waterleaf: 12-30”, strong spreader, good for bumble and honey bees.

  • Heartleaf Aster: 12-24” Abundant blue flowers. Fantastic bee forage in Fall. Found along woodland margins.

Chef’s Highlights

Shrubs for Bees

  • Forsythia: up to 8’ tall. Yellow blooms on bare stems are dramatic in the spring landscape. Important pollen and nectar source in early season.

  • Pussywillow: up to 12’ tall. Very important early season pollen source.

  • Dogwood: up to 10’ tall. Dogwood love low-wet areas and shorelines. White spring blooms. Often reblooms summer and fall.

  • Spirea: up to 6’ tall. Spirea are covered in bees when they bloom. Deadhead spent blooms to encourage reblooming. Spring-summer-fall.

  • Hazelnut: up to 10’ tall. Bees work the male shrub’s catkins for pollen in the spring. Excellent nut producing shrub for the MN landscape.

  • Chokecherry: up to 12’ tall. Spring bloomer, forms stands of fruit producing shrubs that attract birds. Bitter cherries are delicious when they turn dark purple / black.

  • Sand cherry: up to 8’ tall. Bees love all cherry blooms, purple sand cherry has a wonderful dark colored leaf to provide contrast in the garden setting. Great accent against the house, spring bloomer.

  • Raspberry: up to 7’ tall. Bees love raspberry blooms and help raspberries be much more productive. Try black cap raspberries for a wonderful native fruit delight. Spring-summer-fall.

  • Willow: up to 12’ tall. Very early blooms are incredibly important for bees. Sometimes blooms in Feb or March in years with early spring. Perfect example of how wind pollinated shrubs are important food sources for bees.

Main Courses

Tall Height Habitat: Pollinator habitat pants over 36^ tall Great along fences.


  • Bee Balm: 2-3' Lavender-pale pink flowers growing in dense, round clusters. Summer blooms amassing a flurry of bee activity. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

  • Aster: 4-5’ Gorgeous purple-blue flowers with yellow centers. Autumn blooms attract butterflies.

  • Tickseed Coreopsis: 2-4’ Small bright yellow blooms over threadlike foliage. Perfect for smaller pollinators. Summer bloomer.

  • Zig-Zag Goldenrod: 2-3' Brilliant yellow flowers along slight “zigsag” stem in Fall. Native to woodlands and woodland margins.

  • Cup Plant: 6-8’ Large bright yellow flowers in July-September. Leaves form "cups" along stems that collect water. A favorite of Goldfinches

  • Large Beardtounge: 2-4' Lavender flowers are 2” long tubes, in spring and early summer, aesthetically stunning.

  • White and Yellow Sweet Clover: 2-6’ White or yellow, summer to fall. Honey bee favorite. Legume fixes nitrogen.

  • Prairie Sunflower: 1-4' Sunny yellow faces 3” diameter, blooming in Late Summer to Mid Fall. Bees flock to the first course, birds follow to enjoy later in the season.

  • Field Thistle: up to 7’ tall. Attracts hummingbird moths on purple blooms in summer and fall.

  • Yellow Coneflower: 5’ tall. Yellow blooms bring in the butterflies, summer to fall.

  • Sunchoke: 3-10’ Yellow blooms Late Summer to Fall. Native sunflower, important for pollinator forage and nesting. Seeds are a rich food source for birds.

  • Pale Purple Coneflower: 3-4' Pink-purple flowers on erect stems, blooms in mid Summer. Attracts butterflies,

  • Prairie Blazing Star: 2-4’ Abundant and spectacular magenta-purple flowers feather from a sturdy stalks, Summer to Fall. Butterfly magnet. Plant with Big Bluestem to protect from wind.

  • Foxglove: 3-4' White bell shaped flowers in Summer. Native to open woods and prairies of eastern Minnesota.

  • Lupine: 1-3’ Long, pealike clusters of blue-purple flowers in Late Spring to Early Summer. The only caterpillar host plant for the endangered Karner Blue butterfly.

  • Veronicastrum: 3-6’ White candelabra-like spikes of densely packed small blooms that open from the top down mid-summer. Found in wet meadows and forest borders.

  • Ironweed: 4-6’ Magenta flowers are a rare color in late summer. Strong, sturdy stem with excellent posture. Native to marshes and wet prairies. Host plant to the American Painted Lady butterfly.

  • Anise Hyssop: 2-3' Abundant purple/lavender-spiked flowers in Summer. Leaves and flowers emit potent licorice fragrance.

  • Verbena Bonariensis: 3-4' Purple blooms in spring, summer, fall. Self seeding annual.

  • Fennell: 3-5’ tall. Blooms yellow in summer. Self-seeding annual.

  • Big Blue Stem: 5-8’ Fine, blue-green foliage that serves as a backdrop to taller wildflowers - turning a rich, rust-colored hue in fall providing. Supports floppy plants, provides visual interest between bloom periods and in winter. Female bumble bee queen nest at the base of bunch grasses where they will be protected until they emerge in the spring. Stalks shelter pollinators in larval stages and are overwintering habitat for a variety of wildlife.


  • Touch-Me-Not: 3-5’ self-seeding annual impatien. Bees will sometimes spend the night inside touch-me-not blooms.

  • Filipendula: 3-5’ White - pink flowers in summer stand above broad textured foliage.

  • Solomon’s Seal: 2-5’ White flowers in spring hang under graceful arching foliage.

  • Goat’s Beard: 4-6’ White flowers in early spring. Fine textured foliage is wonderful against hosta.

  • Tall Hosta: 3-4' Old fashioned favorites and new varieties. Beloved by bumble bees. White to purple. Hosta Plantaginea is a wonderful fragrant variety. Spring to summer.


Mega Monarch Magnets

  • Joe Pye Weed: 5-8’ tall. Monarchs adore this summer-fall bloomer. Joe Pye is great in a rain garden or low-wet spot in the garden. Grows well in full sun or part shade.

  • Meadow Blazing Star: 4-6’ tall. Monarchs line up all day for this full sun - part shade favorite. Purple blooms look like starbursts. If you want to see monarchs, this is a guaranteed winner.

  • Common Milkweed: 2-6’ tall. Pink blooms in summer are bees favorite. Milkweed is essential breeding ground for monarch butterflies. A must-have in the monarch butterfly garden.