Do Bees Like Sunflowers?

Written On: by Theo The Beekeeper

If you have sunflowers and are interested in bees, you might have wondered if bees appreciate pollen and nectar from sunflowers. Like most flowers, sunflowers are very attractive to bees, especially because they are yellow and bees prefer flowers that are yellow, white, blue, or purple.

Bees do like sunflowers, and they like them because sunflowers carry nectar and pollen that the bees use for food. Bees are fans of yellow flowers especially, so sunflowers are a great choice for bees as far as food sources go. Bees pollinate the sunflowers in their visits between flowers, making the relationship beneficial for both the flowers and the bees.

Bees like flowers because they smell sweet because of their nectar, and also because of patterns on the surfaces of the flowers that lead bees to pollen sources. Flowers are all about food for bees. Some bees are generalists, meaning that they will feed on many different types of flowers, while others are specialists, meaning they only feed on a few select types of flowers.

Bee hovering in front of a sunflower
Bee hovering in front of sunflower.

Why Are There Bees on My Sunflowers?

If you see a bee sitting on or buzzing around one of your sunflowers, you might be wondering what it’s doing there. Usually, when bees are near sunflowers, they are foraging for either nectar or pollen, or sometimes both.

Adult bees drink nectar as a source of sugar to keep their metabolisms running. They also collect pollen in pollen baskets on their hind legs to bring back to their larvae, as pollen is an important source of protein for growing larvae. When bees are hovering around sunflowers, or any kind of flower for that matter, they are typically either drinking nectar from the flower or pushing pollen into their pollen baskets to bring back to their nests.

Why Do Bees Like Flowers?

Bees like flowers because they supply food for bees. Bees are attracted to the colors and smell of the flowers because these features indicate how much nectar and pollen the bees will find in each individual flower.

All bees feed on flowers in one way or another, and it’s not so much that they like flowers but that they need flowers in order to survive. Bees collect both nectar and pollen to feed themselves, their larvae, and even their queens, in the case of social bees. Plants are the only natural sources of such substances, and so bees depend on them for food and their own survival.

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Why Do Bees Like Sunflowers?

Bee feeding on the center of a sunflower
Bee feeding on the center of a sunflower.

Bees like sunflowers because of their color and size. Because sunflowers are usually yellow and bees are attracted to the color yellow, they appreciate sunflowers more than some other flowers. You might notice that bees are more attracted to bright yellow sunflowers than the more reddish orange varieties of sunflower. This is because bees actually cannot see the red part of the light spectrum, making reddish colors unattractive to them.

Bees also like sunflowers because they are so large. Sunflower heads have many tiny flowers in their centers, each of which holds its own supply of nectar and pollen. This means that each sunflower has an incredible amount of nectar and pollen that is available for the bees’ consumption. Because the nectar and pollen is so readily available, bees can smell that sunflowers have a lot of nectar and pollen, and are attracted to these flowers.

What Other Types of Flowers do Bees Like?

Bees like many types of flowers, but especially blue, purple, yellow, and white flowers. They are less attracted to red and pink flowers because they actually cannot see colors of those wavelengths.

Bees like the smell of flowers, so just like humans, they are attracted to flowers with a strong floral smell. Sometimes bees are even attracted to floral perfume because they get it confused with flowers!

Bee balm is possibly the most popular plant for bees, with lupines, marigold, peonies, mint, and chives also attracting bee activity. Some bees are not at all picky about what flowers they feed on, making them generalists, while others are specialists, meaning that they only feed on one or a few species of plants.

As long as you keep a diverse garden full of blue, purple, yellow, and white flowers, you should be able to attract bees of all species to come to your garden and pollinate your flowers. Even herbs and vegetables can attract bees as well.

What Other Insects Like Sunflowers?

Many insects besides bees like to feed on sunflowers, and can also pollinate them. Hover flies and other small flies like bee flies enjoy the nectar and pollen that comes from sunflowers. Even butterflies like to land on sunflowers and feed on them. Altogether, these insects combined function as pollinators for the sunflowers, helping them to reproduce.

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Should I Let Bees Near My Sunflowers?

Some people might be afraid of bees, especially if they have allergies to bee stings. However, bees can be very beneficial for your garden and the natural ecosystem that it holds, so it’s important to give bees plenty of flowers and space in your garden so that they can do their important pollination work.

Pollination is the reason that bees and other insects are important for sunflowers. Sunflowers are primarily cross-pollinating plants, meaning that they require pollinators to help them pollinate themselves. Pollination is the action in which pollen is transferred from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. This is how flowers reproduce, via pollen that is transferred from male to female part and triggers reproduction and seed production.

Without pollinators like bees, sunflowers would have great difficulty reproducing and might even die off. Bees pollinate sunflowers when they forage for nectar and pollen because the pollen sticks to their body hairs while they are visiting the flowers. At each flower a bee visits, some new pollen sticks to their hairy body, and some old pollen falls off onto the new flower. This is how pollination happens when bees are performing it. Bees do not pollinate on purpose, but rather as a side effect of their foraging activities.

Why is Pollination Important for Sunflowers?

Pollination is important for sunflowers just like it is for all plants. Pollination is essentially how plants survive and reproduce, meaning that without it, there would be a great lack of plants. Sunflowers might not be able to survive as a species if pollination did not occur. This makes bees and other insects very important for sunflowers.

Author

Theo The Beekeeper

When I was a kid, my dad used to keep bees around the small farm we had, and I absolutely loved helping him. In the past few years, we’ve picked up the hobby again, and I’ve been doing a lot more research. This website is the accumulation of things I’ve learned along the way! You can learn more about my journey and the resources I’ve developed on my about page.

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