Why Plant Trees for Bees on Farms

Good nutrition for bees is the key to better pollination on farms. Bees need a reliable source of food throughout the year just like other animals so that they do not suffer nutritional stress which can result in weak bees and dying colonies. It is easy to encourage and support bees while also meeting other farm requirements by planting multi-purpose trees and shrubs that feed bees.

Many planting opportunities are available to the farmer, with the ability to include bee forage species into planting that already takes place on a wide range of farm types, including:

  • Shade and shelter

  • Land stabilisation and riparian/wetland protection

  • Amenity/farm beautification

  • Timber, firewood, tree crops

  • Native bush protection and enrichment

Areas available for planting may include:

  • Unproductive land (e.g. gullies, bluffs, steep slopes, wet and weedy land)

  • Paddock corners, shelterbelts and hedgerows

  • Specimen trees in paddocks and stockyards, stock laneways and avenues, road and rail verges

  • Stream, pond and wetland margins

  • Flower gardens, orchards, old homesteads

  • Remnant native bush

  • Forestry plantations

With so many reasons for planting trees and shrubs on farms, feeding bees can fit in perfectly by selecting plants that are also good pollen and nectar sources.

How to Plant

Before embarking on a planting programme on your farm for any purpose, including bees, you need to be aware of a number of factors.

Site characteristics will influence your choice of species and can vary in:

  • Size and shape

  • Location and exposure

  • Soils and drainage

  • Rainfall

  • Access and serviceability

You also need to consider:

  • Space available for planting

  • Time, money and labour available

  • Best time of year for planting

  • Weediness of candidate plants

  • Toxicity of candidate plants to animals

  • Pests, such as goats, opossums and hares

  • How the plants fit in with existing land use

Key tasks for planting are:

  • Preparing a planting plan

  • Sourcing plants

  • Preparing the site

  • Weed control

  • Soil cultivation

  • Installing fencing/tree guards

  • Controlling pests

  • Irrigating as needed

  • Planning long term maintenance

Tips for successful planting:

  • Have an overall plan – consult nurseries or farm planting advisors and local beekeepers

  • Make a flowering calendar of what bee plants you already have on site and then select plants to fill in pollen supply gaps

  • Optimise bee nutrition by selecting the best plants with abundant pollen or nectar and reliable flowering times

  • Use a mix of plants – some flower in the first year, others may take time to first flowering

  • Stage the phases of the planting over time –only plant what you can manage, including ongoing maintenance

  • Don’t overcrowd – let the plants grow into the space for their mature size

  • Have a plan for weed control and protect plants from stock and pests

  • Be prepared to irrigate in dry weather

Plant Lists

Trees for Bees is constantly researching bee forage species and updating its plant lists.


Trees for Bees is preparing a number of planting templates that can be used as guides for farmers and landowners wanting to establish bee forage plants.  These will be added to the website as they are completed.

Case Studies

Trees for Bees is writing up a number of case studies to illustrate how bee forage plantings have been established.  These will be added to the website as they are completed.