Beeing There

There are a lot more bees in our garden this year than last. That does not mean, I realize, that the crisis of bee survival is abating, but it is nice to know that at least our garden provides bees with good foraging. Here’s a little video of the bees on our anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum).

NOTE: to see the bees, you need to go full screen by clicking the icon at the lower right AFTER you open the video.

They sure do love this plant (though the bumblebees have other favorites). This Agastache is the straight species. It’s too bad that almost all the Agastache sold in garden centers are hybrids. I don’t have anything against the hybrids, which I think are mostly a mix of North American and Asian species. But the straight North American species is hard to beat for flowering, color, and attractiveness to insects. Goldfinches will eat the ripe seeds, and people can make tea from or eat the leaves, which smell strongly of liquorice.

Are there more or fewer bees in your garden this year, and which plant do they love best?

52 Comments on “Beeing There

  1. Great little video! I am seeing far fewer bees this year but there they still visit their favourite flowers. More dramatically there has been a complete crash of paper wasps. For the past 10+ years we supported a rather large population of wasps in our carport. I haven’t been able to spot a -single- one all season. I can imagine some people would think their disappearance would be a blessing but I really miss them. I used to frequently come in contact with them while gardening but they never once stung me. I have heard they can recognize faces. I know they used to fly quite close to me to check me out. I miss their flights but I am also concerned that I don’t know the cause of their disappearance. It could be a sign of something really bad.

    • I haven’t paid that much attention to the number of wasps, I generally feel that we have plenty, especially these big black ones. But you’re right, there decline can’t signify anything good.

  2. I’m seeing a lot of bees and other pollinators this year. Our agastaches are a big draw too–the bumbles like to sleep in and on them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. A nice little video! Definitely more bees in my garden this year, but still worrying reports of their decline in Europe. They loved the lavender, and now the Perovskia. And the wild oregano is a big hit with all the pollinators – they are literally clambering over each other on it!

  4. I think there are less bees and fewer species of bee this year. I imagine it is our lower temperatures and rainfall, but of course it could be that there are more flowers out in the countryside for the same reason so the bees have more places to go to feed.

    • We’ve definitely had fewer birds at the feeders this summer and I’m told that is because wild food is plentiful, so maybe the situation with your bees is similar.

  5. Hi Jason, it looks like you have a hive of them in there! It’s always encouraging to see bees in quantity. At the moment, we’re struggling to attract them in but changes are already afoot, they’re enjoying the stand of sunflowers, dahlias and annuals that are new this year. Hopefully their numbers will go up as more plants go into the garden.

  6. I haven’t noticed more bees this year, and I don’t think I have seen a single June bug or Japanese beetle. Not that I want to see the latter, but it makes me wonder if one (or more) of my neighbors has been treating their yard with pesticides. On the plus side, I have seen more monarchs passing through and the local parks report a big uptick in monarch caterpillars; last year there were almost none.

  7. Fun video. We’ve had more bees, lots more goldfinches and hummingbirds, and fewer butterflies. Echinacea is a big draw.

  8. Awesome! Earlier this year, it seemed there were far fewer bees around the garden, which made me nervous. A few months ago, however, they suddenly seemed to appear overnight and now the garden positively hums all day long…and the Agastache are a big draw…but as you mentioned, different plants seem to appeal to different bees. The Joe Pye is like a magnet to Bumblebees, but not so much to honeybees…Geraniums, however, are like crack for honeybees, but not so much the Bumbles.

    • Haven’t noticed about the Geraniums, but the bumbles seem to really love Joe Pye, Veronicastrum, and other fuzzy flowers.

  9. Fantastic chapter in your blog, comments as well! As a former beekeeper, I am always interested in hearing news on these little pollinators. I live in an area invaded by MBS, the asian stinkbug that has had such a negative effect on our local crops. As they burrow in the leaves, soil and barks of trees during cooler spells, I wonder if they are interfering with hibernating moth and butterfly pupas? Pollinators on our property are always a pleasure to watch. Espec a mother bumble surrounded by her bumbling babies. This year local bees, italian and feral, bumbles and carpenter have discovered my cleomes. So much so, the hummers feed on these blossoms at night.
    As a final comment, I hope everyone reading this looks into the possibly dangerous impact RoundUp and RoundUp ready crops are having upon pollinators in our country.

    • I know that roundup has led to a big decline in milkweed which has hurt the Monarchs, is that what you mean? Is Roundup a neonicotinoid?

      • No, it is a glyphosate. It is used with GMO crops that have been modified to withstand RoundUp. The seeds generate the desired crop while killing any nearby unmodified plant. Simplistic explanation of the process.

      • Allow me to correct my comment; the sower is then able to use R-Up without killing their crops. Thusly we have the ‘weeds’ which would need pollination were they allowed to grow and the sterile crop creating a non-pollination environment. Neonicotinoids are also believed to adversely impact pollinators and may be the leading instigator for colony collapse. Although I am also suspicious that there is also a causal link to R-Up in colony collapse.

  10. Our very cool late spring has my beebalms still in bloom. The native beebalm is the big draw, but I also have a water source nearby and we have had some drought conditions.

    Even though we had a brutal winter, the temps did not vary a lot, which the neighborhood beekeeper said is a good thing for the bees. They are better able to regulate the hive temperature through the winter when it stays at a constant temp.

  11. Brilliant to see the bees feeding and what a marvelous plant. I have one a little like that called mock

  12. Love the Agastache and the bees clearly love it too. We have fewer honey bees this year but plenty of bumble bees and more butterflies than usual.

  13. Agastache is a great plant. i have several of them, and the bees love it. i think I have more bees in my garden than usual, but I also provide food for them.
    Joe Pye Weed, echinacea, agastache, calamintha, helenium, veronica, sunflowers, monarda, allium, eryngium,thyme. I love to see the bees in my garden, and also the butterflies. Just read an article, saying that we only have half the butterflies we used to have. Very sad I think.

  14. I think we have more honeybees than ever, maybe because of the garden development but I like to think the bees are doing well too. They line up along the edge of the birdbath to chat in little groups while they drink, like people at a bar, quite cute. And when the linden tree bloomed the entire thing hummed so loudly it sounded like a swarm coming. Nice video Jason! I love garden videos.

  15. Lots of bees this year and I have the same plant as yours blooming keeping them happy. The Perovskia is the busiest bee plant right now though. It is like a full hive around my two Russian Sage.

    • I want to get a field guide so I can distinguish the different bee species. Now all I can tell is bumblebees and honeybees.

      • I just learned that carpenter bees look like bumble bees but are much bigger with darker wings and abdomens. If you do buy a field guide I wouldn’t buy Peterson’s Field Guide to Insects. I have a hard time finding anything in it.

  16. All I can say Jason is what a beautiful sight!!!! Loved seeing all of those bees! And yes! I have seen more this season. Not as many as you have in that shot though….how extraordinary!!! And as for the DIY…we are doing some of it ourselves but the pit area we are hiring someone as it is a big job. Good luck with your patio!!! Nicole

    • I would like to think people are seeing more bees because the bees are doing better but I guess it is probably just that their gardens are doing a better job of attracting bees.

  17. Lots of bees here, it’s been buzzing since the crocus first opened, honey and bumblebees galore.
    Lots of wasps, but I rarely see those cool metallic colored bees and flies…. wasps and bees seem to have taken over. Between them and all the birds in the garden it’s no wonder I have so few butterflies.

  18. What a lovely video! I saw plenty of bees earlier in the year here in the UK, but not that many seem to be around now, even though we’ve been having great weather. I hope the problems with their population aren’t getting any worse here.

    • Actually, the federal environment agency is reviewing a possible ban on neonicotinoids, which could really help here. Our current administration tends to be very timid on the environment, but I’m hopeful.

  19. I have not noticed more bees than usual, although I do feel like I’ve seen more wasps. I have one Agastache that’s working hard to make lots of Agastache, which is fine with me. The bees do certainly love it–I can count on seeing one there, at least, whenever I am in the garden.

    • The Agastache does tend to self-sow like mad, but it really isn’t hard to control. Plus they are not very long lived, so all those seeds help ensure that they never disappear.

  20. Jason, love the agastache and bee balm. Two of my favorites but I left them both behind when we moved last fall. The bees would swarm over my agastache, along with the gold finch, and I loved it. I kept some agastache seed and will sow it this fall, now that I have the beds ready for it. Can’t wait for it to get established here. I battled deer in my last garden, and in my new one, too, so I loved that they didn’t bother the agastache or bee balm.

    • It’s a good thing the deer don’t like to eat something. Agastache is such an easy and adaptable plant – it should be in more gardens! By the way, I clicked on your link but didn’t get to a website.

  21. The bees were slow to venture out this year and they really have been around since the natives have bloomed…now they are just everywhere…especially on the hyssop.

  22. More. Once they got going, they really got going. But not as many butterflies. That’s what’s bugging me this year. (Okay, that and all the Japanese beetles). Too few of one, too many of the other. Sigh.

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