Trees for Bees

All trees have been reserved for the 2024 giveaway!

About the Giveaway

Howard County Bee City’s Trees for Bees giveaway focuses on bringing awareness to the importance of native trees and shrubs for pollinators, especially in Spring. Species offered in our giveaway support native bees, butterflies, and other wildlife by providing pollen, nectar, food, and shelter, while also bringing the beauty of native plants to your outdoor spaces. Tree and shrub species that are native to the Chesapeake Bay region also help combat climate change by sequestering carbon, they aid in reducing stormwater runoff, and improve the water quality in our local streams.

About the Trees and Shrubs

The trees and shrubs will be in 2, 3, or 5-gallon containers and approximately 2-6 feet tall depending on the species. Species are native to Maryland, acclimated to our climate, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. Residents are responsible for loading the trees and shrubs into their vehicles.

2024 Tree species:

Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis): This tree is the host for several caterpillar species, such as the Question Mark Butterfly and Hackberry Emperor Butterfly. Its flowers that appear in April and May are modest, but its beautiful purple berries provide food for songbirds in the fall. Many of the birds will then nest in the hackberry’s branches. Reaching 40-60 feet in height and width, it grows best in moist soil and full to part sun.

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana): While they do not flower, eastern red cedars release pollen from yellow cones in March to May. Blue, berry-like cones produced in late summer and fall contain the seeds of this evergreen conifer, and they provide food for birds like cedar waxwings. It is also the host plant for the showy, yellow and amber colored Imperial Moth. Plant it in full sun and dry to moist soil and expect it to reach 30 to 40 feet tall.

Black Cherry (Prunus serotina): Considered a high eco-value tree, its pink spring blooms provide both nectar and pollen for early season bees, which then give way to clusters of berries that provide a popular food source for birds and mammals. Growing in full to partial sun and moist to dry soils, this tree can reach up to 80 feet tall and grow 30-60 feet wide. It’s the host plant for 456 butterflies and moths and considered a keystone tree for caterpillars, which themselves provide a high protein food source for nesting songbirds. Comes in a 5 gallon container and will be ~3-5′ tall upon pickup at the giveaway.

2024 Shrub species:

Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa):Reaching three to six feet tall, this shrub grows best in full to part sun and moist to wet soil, though it can also tolerate drier soil. White and pink blossoms appear in in April and May and attract butterflies and native bees like mason bees. Purple or black berries feed songbirds in the fall.

Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis): This shrub grows in full to partial sun, wet to moist soil conditions, and reaches 5 and 12 feet tall and 4 to 8 feet wide. It blooms from June to August, with small, charming white flowers that resemble pincushions. These flowers are highly attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and other and insect pollinators. Comes in a 2 gallon container and will be ~2-4′ tall upon pickup at the giveaway.

Possumhaw Viburnum (Viburnum nudum): This shrub prefers moist to wet soil and full to part sun, and it can reach 5 to 12 feet tall. Creamy white and yellow flowers attract bees and butterflies in May and June. In late summer and fall, the berries change color from pink to blue to dark purple as they ripen. Possumhaw viburnum is also a host plant for the Spring Azure Butterfly and Hummingbird Clearwing Moth.

Reserving Your Trees – On the specified dates, the reservation link will be updated below.

Nonprofit Timeline: contact afarrell@howardcountymd.gov with questions
March 11th – Registration opens for Nonprofit Watershed Protection Partners (*Applies to those that have not registered for trees for Bees in previous years)
March 17th – Registration closes
March 18th – Sign up opens
March 25th – Sign up closes

Residential Timeline: contact jcostantino@howardcountymd.gov with questions. DO NOT EMAIL A RESERVATION REQUEST.
April 1st @ 12pm -ALL TREES HAVE BEEN RESERVED FOR 2024
April 8th (or when all trees have been reserved)- Sign up closes

Pickup Location

YOU MUST PICK UP YOUR TREE AT THE SPECIFIED LOCATION ON APRIL 13TH 2024. Pickup occurs during GreenFest and we encourage you to visit the many great activities going on! 

If you cannot pick up your tree on this date, please do not reserve a tree. You may have another person pick up for you. Have them bring a printout of your reservation. 

Pick up location and time:

Howard Community College,

10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia,

PARKING LOT A 10am – 3pm – enter through Scholarship Drive.

Planting Resources:

Tree Planting Instructions Video

Tree Care Guide

To learn more details about these tree species, visit https://plants.usda.gov. Trees improve the environment in terms of climate, stormwater, energy savings and economic value to homeowners. Learn more about tree benefits at ArborDay.org.

Another great option that encourages residents to plant trees is the Marylanders Plant Trees coupon program. Maryland Department of Natural Resources offers a $25 coupon off of native trees that cost $50 or more at participating nurseries.  Find the coupon here and use the tabs on the left of the page to find Participating Nurseries and Recommended Trees.

We successfully gave away 1,000 trees to residents, non-profits and Howard Community College for our inaugural Trees for Bees Giveaway in 2022! Thank you to all who participated. 

For more information about how you can help pollinators click HERE