The Bees Sure Do Like NE Aster

I’ve read that New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is an important source of nectar for Monarch Butterflies on their southern migration. From casual observation, though, I have to conclude that Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) is a much bigger draw for Monarchs and other butterflies as well.


Bees, are a different story, though. Right now the New England Asters are covered with bees of many kinds.


The two pictures above are both some kind of metallic green bee, I think. The name seems apt.


Medium-size and smaller bees seem to prefer New England Aster to the Tithonia.


When you look close, it seems like they are shoving their faces right into the disc flowers. Makes me think of someone in a pie-eating contest.


The bumble bees seem to like Tithonia and New England Aster about equally.

Based on what I’ve seen in my garden, bees love asters of all kinds. I’d say it’s a good idea to have a mix of Aster species both for fall blooms and to provide an outdoor buffet for the pollinators.

45 Comments on “The Bees Sure Do Like NE Aster

  1. You captured some really great shots. I know just a little about the green bees, but I remember they are short-tounged, so only visit flowers with easily accessible nectar.

  2. I like that description with the pie! 😉 You have convinced me – I am going to order another couple of asters. Now, which ones….

  3. The green bee might be one of those sweat bees. We have them here, though I haven’t seen many of them this year. My New England Asters are covered in bumblebees, though!

  4. I don’t have Tithonia, but the Monarchs prefer the Zinnias here, until the Swamp Milkweed blooms–at that point every pollinator in the garden zooms to the Swamp Milkweed for nectar (and in the case of the Monarchs, to lay eggs). I do have a few Asters, but here the bees and other pollinators seem to prefer the Blue Mistflower after the Swamp Milkweed is done blooming. The Mistflower is still blooming and has been doing so since mid-August! If I had more sun (maybe in my next garden) I’d plant Tithonia. You’ve convinced me. 🙂

  5. Wow, I haven’t looked at our bees that closely, but I’m sure we don’t have that metallic green bee, it is amazing. We have a Chinese Tallow tree that attracts more bees than any other plant we’ve ever had, and if a green metallic bee shows up here in Australia, it will be on that tree. I’ll be looking out this year.

  6. What a fabulous colour the Green Bee is! My Asters are covered in bees too, it seems to be their favourite plant at the moment.

  7. I agree with Indie that the green bee likely is a sweat bee. We have lots of them here in Maine, although I haven’t seen many in the past few weeks. Our unusually warm October is a bit tough on honeybees. They are still flying because it’s so warm, but there is less and less nectar available. Our asters are still blooming but I doubt they are giving much nectar now. To support their extra flying time, they are having to turn to their winter honey stores. As a result, we are having to feed our bees for a longer period this fall to make sure they have enough for winter.

  8. Such an informative post and such informative comments. I love those stars of autumn.

  9. I have some wild asters in my garden that look very similar to your NE aster. I’ll have to check them out for bee shenanigans 🙂

  10. My asters have died down for the time being but see a few volunteer seedlings nearby. Can’t wait for it to rebloom and the bees that love them!

  11. Every year about this time I am reminded to add more asters. They really do a great job of extending the season.

  12. Green bees?! No green bees here in the UK but the regular types love our asters too. Providing nectar for as long as possible is a good deed for biodiversity 🙂

  13. My bees seem to prefer smooth aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) ‘Bluebird’ to the New England aster — but that may be because my NE aster is the bright pink cultivar ‘Alma Potschke.’ There is a really nice looking wild NE aster growing near the side of the road not far from my house; I’m going to try collecting seeds from it so that I can grow the straight species.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: