Our native manzanitas are flowering now and they will attract many early spring pollinators, including those fuzzy black and yellow-haired bumblebees.  There are 26 native species of bumblebees in California and they live in small colonies in the ground, which is a very good reason to leave some patches of bare earth in your garden space as nesting opportunities. The fertilized queens, who are the only survivors at the end of the year, hibernate until spring when it’s time to start up new colonies.  The queen will be the first bumblebee out foraging on early spring flowers for nectar and pollen, which are brought back to the nest as nourishment for the new brood.   Bumblebees use many different nectar plants, but early blooming salvias such as brandegee sage, black sage or  low growing sages such as  ‘Bee’s Bliss’, ‘Dara’s choice’ or ‘Mrs. Beard’ are bumblebee magnets.  Also, early blooming pink-flowering currant, coffeeberry, and ceanothus.  My choice for best bee nectar plant is tansy-leaf phacelia (you may have to grow this one from seed); another habitat gardener’s favorite:  Ceanothus ‘Gloire de Versailles , which blooms all summer and is loved by all pollinators. 

Bumblebee blog