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Creating a Garden that Attracts Bees, Butterflies and Bats. Oh my!

In case you have been out of the news loop, two of the world’s most well-known pollinators have been disappearing in record numbers over the last couple of years. Both bees and butterflies are vital to our eco-system and agricultural industry, along with bats.

Although the cause of the disappearance of bees and butterflies has not been confirmed, there are a few speculations: pesticides that contain neonicotinoids, a nerve-poisoning pesticide, and the second theory for bees is mites are destroying their larvae.

While scientists, researchers, and politicians figure out how to stop the decline of these important insects and mammals, you can do a few things in your yard to help them.

Creating a garden of flutter usually begins at your local garden centre. Keep reading for ideas on what to plant to bring your garden alive.

‌Create a Yard of Colour to Cause Butterfly Flutter

According to Monarch Watch, the first step in creating a butterfly-friendly garden is to research what butterflies live in your part of the country. The best way is to observe butterflies in your area.‌

Butterflies feed on nectar and like colour. It is recommended that you plant flowers that will bloom at different times during the summer season. Once you choose your flowers, make sure you plant the shorter ones in front and the taller plants in the back and clump them together by species and colour because when butterflies search for food, large splashes of colour will catch their attention.

NOTE: Do NOT use pesticides in your garden, as they may be detrimental to your hard work and kill the bees, butterflies and bats you attract to your yard.
Left, different colour lilac bushes, right azalea bushes.

Lots of Flutter in Your Garden 

Lilac bushes and azalea bushes are a fantastic ways to create a flutter in your garden. Not only do the lilac flowers attract butterflies, bees and other pollinator, but the scent of them is wonderful. When it comes to azalea bush, not only are they beautiful and attract butterflies, but you might also attract hummingbirds


  • Azalea – spring
  • Lilacs – spring
Top left clockwise: zinnias, verbena, impatiens, and alyssum.


When it comes to annual you can count on the alyssums, impatiens, verbena and zinnias to bring your garden to life with colour, and butterflies. Below, flowers and when they bloom.

  • Alyssum – summer to fall
  • Impatiens – summer to fall
  • Zinnias – summer to fall
  • Verbena midsummer to fall
Top left clockwise: black eyed Susans, purple coneflower, yarrow, and daisies.


A few fantastic choices to plant in your garden when it comes to perennials to attract butterflies include: black eye Susans, purple coneflower, yarrow, and daisies. Below is a list of perennials and when they bloom.

Early Summer

  • Yarrow


  • Daisies
  • Milkweed – in some provinces, Milkweed is an invasive weed species‌


  • Butterfly Weed bush
  • Purple Coneflower

Late Summer

  • Black-Eyed Susan
The key to planting a garden that attracts bees and butterflies is planning a garden that blooms from spring to fall.

‌Bring in the Bees

Bees look for bright, nectar-and pollen-rich plants. They like blue, purple, violet, white, and yellow flowers. Plant them in clumps about four feet in diameter instead of scattering them; like butterflies, bees are likelier to find the large splashes of colour.

Top left clockwise: goldenrod, lavender, sunflowers, and foxglove.

What to Plant to Attract Bees

To get your garden buzzing with bees plant Goldenrod, Lavender, Sunflowers, and Foxglove, to name a few plants that attract bees.

Early summer

  • Foxglove
  • Primrose


  • Lavender
  • Yarrow
  • Sunflower
  • Catnip


  • Coneflower
  • Pumpkin
  • Goldenrod
To give “tanks with wings” a drink create a bee bath. Above are two examples of a bee bath. Bee baths assist bees, ladybugs, butterflies and predatory wasps with finding a water source they can drink out of, as they can’t land in bird baths.

Bee Baths are Good for all Pollinators

As one of our significant pollinators, assisting these little winged wonders is crucial.‌

Along with creating a bee-friendly garden, you can make a bee bath that will benefit bees, ladybugs, butterflies and predatory wasps. They need fresh water to drink; however, most can’t land in a birdbath without crashing. As bee master Brian Campbell notes, “They’re like tanks with wings.”

Build a Bee Bath

  1. Line a shallow bowl or plate with rocks
  2. Add water, leaving the stones as dry islands to serve as landing pads
  3. Place the bath at ground level in your garden
  4. Add new water daily to replenish the water that has evaporated
Be a superhero to the bats by mounting a bat box in your backyard.

Superheros: Bats

Be a superhero for our fellow friend the bat. While some people may view this insectivorous (a carnivore that eats insects) as a pest, this pest, the brown bat, can consume around 1,200 mosquito-size insects in one hour!

With their ability to catch insects, bats are regarded as an asset to the agricultural and forest industry. It should be noted in the United States, bats provide insect control services worth $3.7-$53 billion per year.

Like bees and butterflies, in some parts of the world, bats play a role in pollination and seed dispersal. However, these furry flyers are currently facing three predators: White-Nose Syndrome, Wind Turbines, and Habitat Loss.

Little brown bat on a man hand.

Fact:  Bats evolved 65 to 54.8 million years ago and are more closely related to people than rodents.

White-Nose Syndrome (WNS): White-nose syndrome has been introduced in North America, in the eastern half. To date, it has not been found in western North America, and it is unknown how it would affect the bats indigenous to the west side of the country.

You can help these winged super bug eaters by building a bat house and hanging it in your backyard. Make sure you check with your local Canadian Forces Housing Agency branch to ensure hanging a bat house in your backyard is okay. For more information, visit here.

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