The Bees are Back

Until recently there seemed to be far fewer bees than normal in the garden, which is ordinarily a place humming with insect activity. The bees seem to have returned in quantity over the last couple of weeks, though still in smaller numbers than last year. Butterflies are still pretty scarce. Here are some bee and pollinator pictures Judy took this past Sunday.

Bumble Bee, Wild Bergamot
Bumblebee coming in for a landing

Bumble Bee, Wild Bergamot

Bee on Anise Hyssop
Bee on Anise Hyssop
Bees, Swamp Milkweed
Bee on Swamp Milkweed
Bees, Wild Bergamot
Bee on Wild Bergamot

Are you seeing fewer bees and butterflies than ususal in your garden

67 Comments on “The Bees are Back

  1. I was very worried earlier this year as there were a lot less bees but perhaps they had found a better food source because as soon as the lavender began flowering many arrived although I think less than in other years and not so many different varieties.

  2. Less bees everywhere, lots of bumble bees and butterflies but I wonder what will happen if the bees continue to disappear 😦

  3. Here in UK we have been having a pretty bad time with all insects…but this year we have seen many more bees than of late…lots of people I speak to have had bees nest in their lofts and out buildings, so have we ….also the butterflies have increased in number but not in variety…

  4. Nice pictures. Last year bees were everywhere in my garden but there are very few this year. I’ve seen more Swallowtails than usual though.

  5. I seem to have more bees and butterflies than normal. They are in my bee balm, anis isop, echinacea, malva, and other plants. But I also know of some neighbours who have bee hives.

  6. I just read a chilling article about colony collapse disorder among bees and it seems clear that if we don’t change our ways and stop using so many chemicals in the garden we might all be out there with tiny little paint brushes doing our own pollinating. If we want to eat, that is.

  7. We haven’t had many bees here either nor butterflies. We have had an increase in dragonflies which is good to see considering the wet summer we have had.

    • I love dragonflies, and not just because they eat mosquitos. I haven’t seen them in our garden, but have seen the smaller damselflies.

  8. We don’t use any chemicals here on the family farm in NH. This year we’ve seen a lot of native pollinators but so far very few butterflies. Their absence is very noticeable – we miss them.

  9. Judy did a great job with the camera! I also remember another blog making mention of the lack of bees and butterflies this summer, but I haven’t noticed any change this year.
    After admiring your purple Bee Balm in a recent post I was surprised and pleased to find I had some in my garden as well. I had forgotten I had planted it! I love the soft color- its a nice change from the standard red. Have a great weekend!

  10. Interesting. I’ve been reading about fewer bees and butterflies in bloggers’ gardens, but that hasn’t the case for me. Lots of bee activity, and I think even more butterflies than last year. I seem to be in the minority, though.

    • It’s hard to know how much is the overall enviromental problem and how much is this year’s cold spring. Last year we had tons of bees and not too many butterflies, though more than what we have now.

  11. My native pollinator population seems to be doing pretty well, but I’m seeing almost no honeybees and relatively few bumblebees. My butterfly populations seem to be way down, too, especially of the medium to large butterflies. I’ve only seen 4 monarchs on my property this year and a handful of swallowtails and painted ladies. Even the fritillary populations are down.

    • I think I’ve seen three monarchs all summer, one black swallowtail, a couple of red admirals and a bunch of cabbage whites. Early in the spring there were some mourning cloaks.

  12. I’ve started seeing an increase in bees here as well, mostly bumblebees. It’s been an almost non-existent year for butterflies though, I think I’ve seen two all Spring/Summer.

    There have been a ton of dragonflies lately, but our towns’ aerial spraying of pesticides to kill mosquitoes last night took care of most of them. It’s always a sad day the morning after the “poison death cloud” is unleashed, there are writhing dragonflies and lacewings and bees all over. Sad.

  13. We did have a lot of butterflies, and lots of bees…but people just don’t seem to get it. If you spray, you kill the bees. They find most chemicals very toxic, and they succumb easily to them.

    Sad situation.


    • We can only talk up the problem and hope that wiser counsel prevails. I gather they are much tougher on pesticides in the EU.

  14. Earlier in the year, it really did seem that there were fewer bees around, but it seems very busy right now…I’m always fretting about the dwindling bee population 😦

    • Today when I got home from work there seemed to be no shortage of bees, However, I agree that the overall situation with bee decline is upsetting and it’s hard not to fret.

  15. Wonderful pic there! We didn’t have many bees or butterflies, I think the cold spring killed them off along with the butterflies. Now bumble bees are everywhere, along with butterflies, but still no honey bees or ladybirds.xxxx

  16. Not noticing less bees this summer or even in spring. but the butterflies are the ones really absent. I am in the fields quite a bit and not seeing them there has caused concern.

  17. I’m finding this too – this week there seem to be bees everywhere but few butterflies and not as many bees. I’m not seeing many in wild places either. Beautiful flower shots – if I were a bee or butterfly I could not resist.

    • When I got home from work today there were MANY bees and black wasps gorging on nectar. A bit reassuring. Still, no butterflies except for a couple of cabbage whites.

  18. We are having a bee and wasp explosion over here! There are bumblebees everywhere (and the fat lazy drones are starting to show up now too) there are a reasonable amount of honeybees (they were a little scarce in the spring) and there are wasps everywhere! My son was stung when he discovered a grapefruit sized yellowjacket nest in a yew, my nephew was stung by a honeybee in the lawn (clover), and my daughter was stung just this evening when we discovered a 6 inch wasp nest in one corner and a cantaloupe sized paper wasp nest in the other corner of the kid’s playhouse. I’ve never seen wasp nests around here, this year we are up to three big ones! Luckily none of us are allergic, but I’d much prefer a butterfly explosion.

    • Yeesh, all those wasp nests and all that stinging does not sound like fun. There were tons of bees (mostly bumbles) and black wasps on the flowers today when I got home.

  19. I’ve also noticed a relative absence of butterflies this summer, except for lots of swallowtails in June. I left lots of milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) growing here and there in hopes of providing habitat for Monarch butterflies. The plants are being eaten — but by milkweed tussock moths; meanwhile, I haven’t seen a single monarch.

  20. Oh you come over here, we still have a lot of them here. In fact right now, i am looking at so many butterflies in our dwindling flower blooms. The problem is i don’t have a good lens, and it is starting to rain, a rain that is kind without any wind. Oh i love it in the farm. We have a wide terrace to look 180 degrees. Hi life the only missing ingredient is coffee.

    But i love so much the color and form of your anise hyssop!

  21. We have seen more Butterflies this year than last summer as the rainy conditions kept numbers very low. We grow lots of plants for bees, butterflies and pollinators, in our garden so yes we do see them, but generally feel that numbers of all are down. There are strong campaigners over here and currently there is a two year temporary ban on neonics, plus great organisations such as Plantlife who have campaigned for all verges in the UK to be left uncut and therefore more wildflowers for pollinators. Hopefully this is not all too late.

  22. Here in Will County, I’ve had loads of bumblebees all summer, and I have 2 honeybee hives so lots of them too. But other than cabbage whites (mostly on my kale!), no butterflies at all until today whe I had a visit from a swallowtail. I haven’t even seen caterpillars on the dill this year. Hope they will start visiting soon, I miss them. Love your blog, great pictures and wonderful gardens!!

    • I miss the butterflies, too. I was just outside and saw that somebody had been chewing on the spicebush leaves but no caterpillars to be seen. I’ll keep my fingers crossed anyway. So glad you enjoy the blog!

  23. and that was the bee balm colour I wanted in my garden! pastel purple darnit not red. We are actually seeing loads of butterfly activity and many new types this year (I saw my first monarch!!!). But our garden is just coming into its own so that’s to be expected.

    • Try Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot instead of the Monarda didyma (Bee Balm). There are also Bee Balm varieties called Purple Rooster and Blue Stocking that are closer to the lavender of Bergamot.

  24. I’m seeing lots of bees and cabbage white butterflies but not so many big butterflies. I haven’t even seen my first monarch yet which is a bit late in the season for me. I really have to get myself some wild bergamot…I melt each time I see photos of it on your blog!

    • Wild Bergamot is fairly undemanding. Only thing is it spreads like Bee Balm and is somewhat susceptible to downy mildew. We have seen a lone monarch three or four times this summer but usually we have two or three visiting every day.

  25. Hey Jason,

    I wish we could have a national summit on bees. Bring in a couple of activist celebrities to help generate research dollars and bring the nation’s attention to their plight and the consequences to our food supply

    Think I’ll research existing foundations and try find some celebrity interest. If I just keep bugging some of them something might happen.

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
    Lao Tzu
    Chinese Philosopher (604BC – 531BC)

    What do you think, my friend?

  26. Hi Jason, our young Anise Hyssop has a few flowers on this this year, but I haven’t seen a single bee on them. Instead, they’re all over the lavender bushes in the front garden so we’re kind of missing them in the back where there aren’t as many flowers.

  27. Early this year, I was very distraught because I didn’t see bees on any of the plants that have, in previous years, been loaded with bees. Then, very late in the season, I began to notice an abundance of pollinators. At present, I think there are fewer honey bees, but there are many, many more native bees, wasps, hover flies etc. I’m not quite sure what to make of it.

  28. There have been so few butterflies in my garden this year. It’s just been sad. There are a lot of theories but no answers. But I do have quite a few bees and other pollinators, which is reassuring.

    • Last year was a low point (I hope) in terms of butterflies. This year is somewhat better, but falls far short of a “normal” year 5-10 years ago. I hope your butterflies make a comeback next year.

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