Bee on oregano bud 1

Many culinary herbs will attract bees to your garden. Grow herbs and you will get double-duty attracting pollinators and bringing flavorings to the kitchen. Many herbs can be harvested cut-and-come-again, leaves, flowers, and seeds. That means you can enjoy many of these herbs all season without replanting.

Bees in the garden are a good thing. Bees pollinate about 75 percent of all of the food crops in the world. Herbs can be planted in an herb bed or spread out to the corners of your vegetable beds to make sure bees stop along the way to visit your vegetable crops as they move from one herb to another.

Bee attracting herbs

Here are several herbs that attract bees to the garden and also can be used in the kitchen.

HerbPart usedUse
AniseSeeds, leavesLicorice flavor for baked goods, soups.
Bee BalmLeaves, fresh and driedShred leaves and petals for green salads. Use flowers in sandwiches.
BorageLeavesShred leaves for cucumber flavor in salads or sour cream.
FenugreekLeaves, fresh and dried; seedsUse leaves as a vegetable, cooked with potatoes, spinach, or rice.
Lemon balmLeaves, fresh and driedTea; lemon-mint flavor also used in cooking fish and poultry.
MintsLeaves, fresh and dried; flowers for salads and garnishesFlavor carrots, eggplant, peas, potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini. Use in marinade, jelly, and sauce.
Oregano and MarjoramLeaves, flower knotsUse in Italian cooking, for pasta sauces, pizza, and roasted vegetables. Greek dishes: souvlaki, baked fish, Greek salad. Mexican dishes: beans dishes, salsas.
SageLeaves, fresh or dried; flowers as garnishFlavoring for meats and poultry. Good with apples, dried beans, cheese, onions, and tomatoes.
Sweet BasilLeaves freshCompanion to tomatoes in salad, sauce, soup. Also with fish and seafood and roast veal and lamb.
ThymesLeaves and sprigs; flowers for garnishesWithstands long, slow cooking–stews, casseroles, soups; enhances other herbs.
Winter SavoryLeaves and sprigs; flowers for garnishes and salads.Flavoring in long-cooked meat and vegetable dishes and stuffings, often with green and fava beans.

More tips at How to Start an Herb Garden.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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