Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bee Season

Flight of the Bumble
Bumblebee cleared for landing on Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
OMG...the garden is looking amazing right now (not that there aren't problem areas)...and I'm so overwhelmed with the bounty of it all, I can't keep a thought in my head when in comes to blogging! It's a good problem to have, but I find that I can't stay focused long enough to post on ANYTHING. The moment I sit down to start a post, I decide it's also the perfect time to take a photo of XYZ in the garden. Up I hop with the camera...and an hour later I am back inside, post forgotten.

backyard  410
What looks like chaos to us humans is nirvana to bees
Anyway...amid all my walks around the garden I've been noticing just how many bees there are this year. I thought last year was good for bees...but this year I seem to have formed my own swarm(s)! I have to admit, I didn't plan a garden purposely to attract bees, butterflies, etc...luckily, the plants I love just happen to be the same plants beloved by our little pollinating friends. The new backyard planting, in particular, seems especially suited to them, having a variety of flower types for different kinds of bees.

Bumblebee on Knautia
Bumblebee on Knautia macedonica
Knautias seem very popular with the Bumbles...they are constantly dive-bombing these little buttons.

Bumble on Echinacea
Bumblebee on Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'
While they seem to have to really work to get at the nectar beyond that spiny center, the Bumbles are determined to get to it!

Bumbles love agastache
Bumblebee on Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
Agastaches have proven to be one of the absolute favorite plants among the bees, especially the Bumbles...they are constantly swarming around them.

Bumble on Ava
Bumblebee on Agastache 'Ava'
The western-type Agastaches have longer tubes, which I thought would hinder the larger Bumblebees from frequenting them...oh no, they LOVE them! It's hilarious to watch them clamp onto one of the tubular flowers, they immediately drop down under the Bumble's weight, but they don't let go...they must really love that nectar!

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Bumblebee on Agastache 'Blue Blazes'
Another of the new Agastaches I'm trying this year...and one that the bees are especially manic over.

Bumble on Purple Haze
Bumblebee on Agastache 'Purple Haze'
'Purple Haze' has been blooming for two months already, and shows no sign of stopping. It is constantly covered with bees, grateful for its dependable flowering.

Bumble on Red Dragon
Bumblebee on Persicaria 'Red Dragon'
While the small white blooms of this Persicaria aren't very noticeable to us humans, the bees seem to go crazy for them. Luckily, 'Red Dragon' doesn't seem to seed itself around, so I can let them bloom for the benefit of the bees.

Bumble on Persicaria
Bumblebee on Persicaria 'Taurus'
'Taurus' has also proven popular with bees...and even though it does seed itself around a bit, it's not a nuisance, and I can always find a spot for the seedlings.

Bumblebee on Salvia
Bumblebee on Salvia verticillata 'Purple Rain'
Bees seem to love the sultry purple blooms of this Salvia...they careen drunkenly around its branches morning to night.

bumbles on purple rain  406
Here they are at it again, you can see that some plants are so delectable that nectar-drunk Bumbles will even ignore the customary 1-bee-per-stem rule!

Bumble on Verbena
Bumble on Verbena bonariensis
The tall stems of these Verbena tremble constantly under the barrage of bumbles.

Bumble on Panicum
Bumblebee on Panicum
While doing my research, I found out that the Bumbles that I often see sleeping on plants in the garden are the males and queens who have been driven from the hive. They will spend their time seeking out each other, mating and will eventually hibernate (well, the queens will, anyway).

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Bumble sleeping on Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eyes'

Bumble on Miscanthus
Bumblebee on Miscanthus

Bumblebee and Lupine
This is my FAVORITE bumblebee...there are only a few of these super-sized beauties in my garden, but I love seeing them. They are bigger than the other Bumbles and have dark orange markings on their backs. I call them Bumblesaurus Rex.

bee on astrantia
Honeybee on Astrantia 'Abbey Road'
The Bumbles and the Honeybees each seem to have their own preference as to which plants they frequent. One of the flowers that are more attractive to honeybees is the Astrantia...which they swarm over...I'm hoping they will help it produce seed.

bee on veronicastrum
Honeybee on Veronicastrum virginicum 'Fascination'
While both Bumbles and Honeybees visit the Veronicastrum, the Honeybees seem to love it far more, they are covered with multiple bees all day long.

bee on ann folkard
Honeybee on Geranium 'Ann Folkard'
Geranium seem to be preferred by Honeybees...I hardly ever see Bumbles on them.

Geranium Rozanne with Bee
Honeybee on Geranium 'Rozanne'
If I had to pick one plant that the Honeybees go absolutely insane for, it's this Geranium. I have a group of several of them, and it positively hums with bees. They perform the most amazing little dance...going in a circle around the blooms, looking for every ounce of nectar.

So there you have it, if you want to encourage bees, plant a wide array of flowers. The garden is starting to ramp up now into its late summer/early autumn crescendo...and no one is happier about it than the neighborhood bees ;-)


  1. I can't believe you didn't mention that you saved me from the evil hornet swarm!

    damn hornets.

  2. Those are some great shots. Wondered where all my bees were this year. I have them but not as much as usual, which is fine since I have enough. Butterflies disappeared also and so far only noticed on Dragonfly which is strange. Your blooms are amazing though.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  3. I just saw one of those Bumblesaurus bees yesterday on a Shasta daisy. Maybe I have fewer honeybees near me than you, but I have lots of bumbles on my hardy geraniums.

    Great pictures, especially the sleeping bees.

  4. It must be bee season, I'm preparing my own post pollinators. My wife is getting really into pollinator conservation and is learning to id the different species in our garden. I'm surprised there's no drumstick allium pics here, I know you have some and the bees seem to love ours.

  5. It seemed that I only had bumblebees for months earlier this year and I was worried about what happened to all the honeybees. But as you mention they seem to prefer certain flowers and once more started blooming I started seeing them. I have really fallen for Agastaches over the last couple of years, the hummingbirds love them too.

  6. The pics are awesome, your flowers look great!!!!I too have lots of bees this year. I love the sound and having them in the gardens. To me it is a pleasure to provide a habitat for them.

  7. My Nepeta and Stachys are the big draws in my yard. I laughed when you called the one Bumlesaurus--how funny. They are quite huge.

  8. So I'm curious if you can hear the low vibrating buzz throughout your garden? When the privet was in full bloom it was almost deafening.

    Love the photos! (as always)

  9. Hi! I love bees and wasps, and I love to see gardeners taking an interest in them. The bee you are calling Bumblesaurus Rex I believe is the Bombus huntii or Hunt's Bumble Bee. You can read about them here: We have them at our house, too, but they are smaller than the B. vosnesenskii, which are the black and yellow ones. Beautiful photos! If you're ever wondering what kind of bug you're seeing you can post in the ID request section on bugguide and the scientists there will let you know. If you any any fuzzy plants like lamb's ear or mullein go take a look at them and you may see Carder Bees gathering little cotton balls for their brood cells. The males will vigorously defend their patch of flowers. They are fun bees to watch. -- Sarah Miller

  10. Great photos, Scott! So interesting to hear about the lone sleeping bumbles: I thought all bumbles were loners. I love having bees in my garden, but right now hummingbirds are stealing the show. I do have Stachys but I think I need to plant more honey-bee attracting flowers as I'm not getting many this summer - thanks for the tips.

  11. You must be very proud of you garden results this year. Smokin!

  12. I love that time of the year when you want to jump up every 10 minutes and take another picture. Your pictures are wonderful, and your flowers are gorgeous. Love your Bumblesaurus Rex!

  13. Hi Scott, You've described me to a T. I think it's a Gardener's High or something. I love this time of year, especially since the temperatures are mild and pleasant and we're not constantly having to rescue thirsty plants. I'm a huge bumble and honeybee fan. They're a fan of my garden too. Doesn't it feel gratifying to have such a nice place for them to come? Awesome photos, as usual!

  14. Loved your post!! Thank God for the bees!! We have them to thank for so many things! I'm so glad to enjoy them here in the air conditioning, just thinking how wonderful it would be to be in Portland this time of year....thanks for taking me out of the heat and humidity here in Nebraska if even just for a little while!!

  15. The bees sure love your garden! I think that Golden Jubilee is amazing. I have two different Agastache in my garden and they must not be in the best place as they have languished.

  16. Love your double bumbles--and your garden, of course. I seem to get more bumbles than honey bees on my cranesbill.

  17. Wow, you've got quite a selection of plants for the pollinators! Not many of them will grow on my corner of Katy but I've seen that Persicaria in nurseries here. I'm adding it to my list of plants to add to my garden to add to my choices for pollinators! Glad you stopped by my corner of Katy!

  18. So many beautiful pictures! With the flowers that you have no wonder the bees are happy.

  19. Great photos. Lovely flowers and adorable bees.

    Always Growing

  20. Your bee shots are beeeeeeutiful!!! Seriously love them!

  21. Scott, you sound as punch drunk in love with the garden as your bees, and I can see why!

  22. I love that beautiful flower garden. No wonder why bumblebees love to suck the nectar of those lovely flowers.

    Cassy from Best Online Guitar Lessons

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  24. I see some of my favorite flowers in this post. I love the bee shots with them, too. I took a few photos of a sleeping bee on a Joe Pye bloom yesterday morning. I didn't know those were bees who were kicked out, though. That's sad.

    I'm feeling that since the day lilies are almost finished blooming, my garden is a bit past its prime.

    I'm excited to see your back yard.

  25. Scott, your garden just goes to show that you can never have too many bees (or photos of them). I do like your colours and planting style.

  26. Scott your garden is obviously the bee bar of Portland, the place to bee, and bee seen. I sure enjoy it!