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bumbles in late summer

Posted by Michael Phillips 
bumbles in late summer
August 31, 2012 06:43PM
Flowering diversity throughout the growing season makes possible more bumblebee colonies and thus returning queens the next spring. Goldenrod and wild aster are a late summer boon for honeybees as well. I'm recognizing a third stalwart in the pollinator ecosystem as the apple harvest begins in earnest. Japanese knotweed is an invasive that most growers would pefer not to see, I expect. This aggressive plant has inclinations that transcend human wishes, of course, and chances are it's already somewhere nearby. Go have a look. This plant offers quite the gift for pollinators. Yellow jackets, hornets, and paper wasps are part of this nectar scene as well . . . all species that spend an inordinate amount of time finding orchard pests to feed their brood. Unless you're aware of the medicinal gift of knotweed (its rhizomes being rich in resveratrol), you probably would never welcome Polygonum cuspidatum. The bumbles think otherwise.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/31/2012 10:08PM by Michael Phillips.
Re: bumbles in late summer
September 01, 2012 11:17PM
And in addition to the goldenrod and wild aster, the various rudbeckia and their relative the echinacea also are very popular with the wild pollinators here. As of the Japanese knotweed, they are probably the most difficult plant to get rid of unless you use nasty things like chemical herbicides... The planting of these is by the way forbidden in many countries/states.
Re: bumbles in late summer
September 06, 2012 07:23AM
When I see the bumblee bees happily working I know life is good. I enjoy tuning into what they enjoy the most as well.

I have perennial nectar plantings that I have been expirimenting with here and there.

I have found that my local bumblee bees also really enjoy . . .

    'Emerald Carpet' Manzanita -- Groud cover to 18" high x 4-5ft wide. white blooms in Jan through March in my area, depending on snow cover (only winter hardy to 15 degrees though). #1 early season bumble bee magnet here at our place.
    Nepeta species (Catmint) -- Up to 3ft tall x 4ft wide depending on species. Lovely blue blooms begin around May and go until Frost (said to be hardy to zone 5)
    Satureja Montana (Winter Savory) -- white blooms May through Sept. Great woody subshrub to about 18" tall. (also good to zone 5)
    Buddleja species (Butterfly Bush) -- Colors in Blue, Purple and Pink with the bluer colors drawing the most bees at my place. Shrubs can go up to 10ft tall, or more. Prune heavy after new growth begins in the spring. Blooms come begining in April and run until October. Nicely fragrant and draws other native bees too. (to zone 5 with extra mulching)

    Plus one annual that is a winner at my place too . . .

    Borago officinalis (Borage) -- Blue blooms begin as soon as the plant has grown about 1ft tall and continue until first frost. Great reseeder. Would be good to have seed on hand to toss onto bare ground here and there. See to it that it gets some water and let it fly. Bumbles and the Honey Bees are constantly on this plant. . . . I have heard that Borage is often used in naturopathic medicines too.
What other plants are exciting bumble bee favorites with our forum members?

Gopher Hill Apples
Zone 8 in California

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/09/2012 04:11PM by Michael Phillips.
Anonymous User
Re: bumbles in late summer
November 25, 2012 10:56AM
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Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 04/18/2014 01:36PM by Deleted.
Re: bumbles in late summer
December 05, 2012 10:16PM
Nice graphic Mike

Though we have a few native Asters, Goldenrods and even a few Salvias with their last flowers on them, Rosemary is the only flowering plant I have right now that is drawing any bee activity. We have had our first frosts this year, but recently the nightly lows have been barely down to 40 degrees. On sunny days, we are still seeing bees out foraging . . . not for much longer, as the snows cant be too far off.

What is your favorite bloomer for the February (late Winter) time frame? Anything come to mind?

Go Bumbles!


Gopher Hill Apples
Zone 8 in California
Re: bumbles in late summer
December 06, 2012 06:27AM
In southern Ohio our clover just finished flowering in mid November. Some dandelions are still blooming but we won't see other blooms until mid January when the witches hazel - Hamamelis starts blooming. It is a wonderful woody shrub that grows in full sun or lightly wooded areas. Next is winter aconite - Eranthis which opens even with light snow on the ground. The honey bees love it! It thrives in woodland setting or in ground cover. It is slow to spread but you can divide the small corms or tiny bulbs. It blooms for at least a month.
Marsha Lindner
Zone 6a
Re: bumbles in late summer
December 12, 2012 10:25PM
Hi Marsha,

Thanks for the good ideas.

How is the deer pressure on the witch hazels? Curious if I need to have it within my deer fenced areas of the orchard or if it can go essentially anywhere - if the deer disregard it at your place.

I was unfamiliar with the Winter Aconite, so did a little research. It looks promising. I like the fact that you have had such good success with it blooming even with snow still on the ground. Sounds like it would qualify as some good emergency food for the bees too. I found a YouTube video that actually does a time lapse of this plant blooming as the snow melts!




Gopher Hill Apples
Zone 8 in California
Re: bumbles in late summer
December 15, 2012 01:25AM
The witch hazel is a multi trunk woody shrub. The deer don't seem to browse on it but they do like to rub on it especially when it is young. I put some deer fencing around the most exposed side when it is young and then take it down when the plant is established. Even if a trunk or two gets rubbed, it is tough enough then to take a bit of shredding. The variety 'Arnold's Promise' is a nice yellow with a dependable bloom. I haven't tried making astringent but it could be an interesting experiment!

Aconite is a great plant and closes on the bitterly cold days but is ready to open again with the warm afternoon sun is shining.
Cincinnati, OH
Re: bumbles in late summer
December 20, 2012 12:51AM
Good stuff Marsha!

Thank you thumbs up


Gopher Hill Apples
Zone 8 in California
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