Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Finally! Things are humming!

Bee activity has picked up considerably of late. Scarcely any to be seen through June, but now that it is hot and arid, they have found the sanctuary. Last year the white clover bloomed early in June. This year the heat (and previous rains) allowed the grass to out grow it. But now there is also enough of a bloom to attract them.

The milkweeds have been blooming for weeks, but is only in the past few days that they have seen any action. Now they are covered - you can hear humming from 3-4 feet away. I've seen honeybees, native bees, giant wasps, hover bees, metallic bees, flies, and butterflies (cabbage, frittilaries & the occasional monarch - no skippers yet).

This is a first time bloom for my 3 varieties of milkweeds (swamp, ice ballet & common). The first 2 have lovely blooms with a strong honey fragrance. The common? Not so much. Their blooms are pendulous and floppy and the only thing that is feasting on them are the Japanese beetles. I will probably remove them from the garden (unless I eventually see some Monarch larvae on them).

I read that there is so much nectar in the milkweed blooms that sometimes bees get stuck in them. I've seen this first hand and have helped free several honeybees already. They seem to get a hind leg stuck in the nectar cup and they can't pull away. So I use a bit of a stick or something for them to hang onto and I pull them out.

I can see what all the hype is about this plant and it's attraction. The fragrance is nothing short of sweet intoxication. I don't know how long the plants will bloom, but they are a wonderful addition to the bee forage ring bed. If I do pull out the common milkweed, I will replace those 2 plantings with more swamp (pink) and ice ballet (5% white) unless I acquire other types that might also be as successful (and beautiful). Advice would be welcome!

Now that the bees are in the milkweed and on the clover, they are also enjoying the lavender and catmint. The phlox is also getting a little action and now that the lavender hyssop has started to bloom, they should soon be covered with busy bees. Yay! :-D


  1. That is what your garden is for, right? Great, Kris. I can see how you enjoy it.

  2. Ha Xuan - yes, the garden is much more enjoyable when there are lots of bees & butterflies & dragonflies & birds on the flowers. (Well, except for the Japanese beetles! LOL)

  3. I'm seeing more bees, butterflies, and wasps, too. I don't think we have those beetles, but we do have some smaller ones that spread disease.

  4. Sue - Right now (7/17), I'm see an wide variety of native & bumble bees this year! I just wish my camera was better for macros. And with the addition of the asclepias incarnata this year, I'm seeing lots of other new bugs (friend or foe, I just don't know).

    Not as many butterflies, though. And it was only yesterday that I saw my first skipper! A Yellowpatch.


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