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Our native bumble bees especially love shrubs; they have the longest flight time of the season, with the queen emerging from hibernation in early spring in search of food when most other plants are still covered in snow. Because they are a social bee and living in colonies, their workers collect pollen well into fall to prepare for winter.

Gardening for the Love of Bees


In the past few decades, development has accelerated at an alarming rate. Where there were once natural landscapes there are now massive developments and widening highways. These are not slow and gradual changes that nature can adapt to. These changes are rapid and dramatic, often depleting acres of land within a season. This degree of development has placed habit loss and fragmentation as the primary factors contributing to the decline of insect and bee populations. 


One thing that we can do as individuals is bring wild flowers and native plants back into the landscape. Floral food provides essential nutrients to help our native bee species thrive, and native plants help restore ecosystems. 


Succession of blooms and seasonality are essential when gardening for bees. The number 'three' is a good reminder; having at least three species of flowers blooming at one time and having blooming plants for three seasons; spring, summer and fall. Native bee populations, especially the bumble bee are active from early spring, well into fall. Native shrubs are also key in providing benefit to bumble bees. They offer small but plentiful blossoms early in the spring when most other plants are often still covered in snow.


The following perennials are well suited to the Muskoka region and will provide blossoms through the seasons. They will thrive in a range of soil and light conditions from partial shade to full sun and have been carefully chosen for their availability as a native plant or seed, at quality nurseries in Ontario.

Achillea millefolium, white yarrow

Agastache foeniculum, anise hyssop 

Aquilegia canadensis, wild columbine

Asclepias incarnata, swamp milkweed

Chamerion angustifolium, fireweed 

Chelone glabra, white turtlehead 

Coreopsis lanceolata, lanceleaf coreopsis 

Dasiphora fruticosa, shrubby cinquefoil 

Desmodium canadense, showy tick-trefoil 

Echinacea purpurea, purple coneflower

Eupatorium perfoliatum, common boneset 

Eutrochium maculatum, spotted joe-pyeweed 

Impatiens capensis, jewelweed 

Iris versicolor, wild blue iris 

Ilium philadelphicum, wood lily 

Liatris spicata, dense blazingstar

Lobelia cardinalis, cardinal flower

Lobelia siphilitica, great blue lobelia 

Monarda didyma, beebalm  

Monarda fistulosa, wild bergamot 

Oenothera biennis, common evening primrose 

Potentilla arguta, tall cinquefoil 

Rudbeckia hirta, black-eyed Susan 

Rudbeckia laciniata, cut-leaf coneflower 

Solidago altissima, late goldenrod 

Solidago canadensis, Canada goldenrod

Solidago juncea, early goldenrod 

Solidago nemoralis, grey goldenrod

Spiraea tomentosa, steeplebush 

Symphyotrichum cordifolium, heart-leaved aster 

Symphyotrichum laeve, smooth blue aster 

Symphyotrichum puniceum, swamp aster 

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae, New England aster 

Tiarella cordifolia, foamflower 

Verbena hastata, swamp verbena 

Verbena stricta, hoary vervain

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