There are lots of publications containing lists of plants which are attractive to bees. What caught my eye was a scientific survey (details in footnote) by some clever scientists at the University of Sussex, who tried to established exactly which plants are best for bees and pollinators. Some plants are up to 100 times more attractive and the authors concluded that by referring to this list gardeners can make a great difference to the local ecology by planting those plants scientifically proven to be the best. The Survey acknowledged that there are many lists in existence guiding gardeners but that they are not "well grounded based on empirical data". The results help gardeners to select bee and insect friendly plants. The scientists based their research on popular garden plants, especially Lavender and so are available to all. The survey is very helpful, although restricted to 32 popular garden plants, which is its limitation, and just walking around gardens tells us there are many more bee friendly plants.
Bees and flying insects depend on plants to gather nectar and pollen. It is a symbiotic relationship, as plants depend on bees and flying insects to transfer pollen on their bodies moving from flower to flower, which leads to fertilisation and setting seeds and berries. In each of the images above the pollen can be seen on the bee and in the pollen baskets. At one time, our landscape had large amounts of hay meadows with wild flowers and the use of pesticides was less common. As the habitat has gone, it is a familiar story retold, the wildlife dependent on that habitat have reduced in numbers.
If you want to identify what sort of bee is in your garden, this is a great free guide from Friends of the Earth with good clear descriptions and illustrations.
Below are links to some bee friendly plants on the web site with advice on how and where to grow them. The list below reflects many of the plants in the survey; they are proven to attract bees.
The hardy Geranium, common name Cranesbill is much loved by the bees, who love blue making a blue Geranium a bee magnet. It is about how bees see colour, there is a scientific explanation but here is a peaceful little video of the bees buzzing blue.