Bumblebee Heaven

Dswan(z6 UT)June 1, 2002

I have never seen as many bumblebees as I have this year. They are really enjoying Nepeta (blue carpet), Wasatch Penstemon, Rydbergh's Penstemon, Agastache urticifolia, Salvia superba and others. I know I'm going to have a good crop of seeds during the fall because these bumblebees are busily pollinating for me. Anyone else having a good year of bumblebees?

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julie321(NL Z7)

The bumblebees here (I think I have 3 or 4 different kinds) are almost drowning out the sound of airline traffic! :) Their favorite are my huge patches of Nepeta, but they also love my salvias, and Iris sibirica. They feed from sunup to sundown not stopping for the windiest rainy days we've had this May.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2002 at 3:40AM
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Ya'll are SO lucky. Native bumblebees have all but disappeared from my area. Honey bees have made a comeback, but the numbers of bumblebees have plummeted during the last 5 to 7 years. I don't know why. We still have some carpenter bees, or whatever those bumble bee shaped bees are with the black backs, rather than the striped backs.


    Bookmark   June 2, 2002 at 7:59AM
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Dswan(z6 UT)

As a child, we had tons of honeybees and just a limited number of bumblebees. With my area turning more suburban and the loss of honeybee colonies to parasites, pollination has been a problem as an adult, I never faced as a youth.

I have seen two honeybees this year. Luckily, I'm getting more and more bumblebees because I have a vegetable garden as well that will need pollination this summer.

As I've planted more and more varieties of flowering plants, I've noticed more types of pollinators coming into my yard. Flies, butterflies, wasps and moths have been frequent visitors and it has been nice to see such diversity in my yard.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2002 at 11:56AM
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There are so few bumblebees in South Florida that it's hard to tell whether they're declining or returning. I suppose the Creator balanced out our abudance of butterfly species by stiffing us a little on bumblebees - there are only two species in the Zone10b part of Florida. Nevertheless, I was delighted last year to notice several nectaring in my butterfly garden - a bigger treat than the butterflies! I have not seen any yet this spring, but I just finished a major garden renovation and the plants are just starting to bloom. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2002 at 2:31PM
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We've had an unusually cool spring, so our bumblebees were a little slow to get going. Many of the plants some of you have mentioned are not yet in bloom here (Agastache, Siberian Iris, Salvia, Penstemon) but "our" Bumblebees are enjoying a great crop of Columbine and some Bleeding Hearts. The numbers of BB's has really picked back up over the last couple years, but Honeybees, set back by tracheal mites, are returning more slowly.
Last year Bumblebees made a nest in a bird nest box in our yard, right near a native-plants border. That was really cool!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2002 at 2:25PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

This has been a great Bumblebee year in my garden. I did plant to attract honeybees and if a honeybee likes it, usually bumbles do as well. Particular favorites are Hyssop and Borage, both fantastic for attracting both bumble and honeybees. Scarlett runner beans are great for attracting hummingbirds and Bumblebees so give them a try also. Right now, my Indigo Spires Salvia is crawling with bees and tall sedum always works to attract bees. The goldenrod is almost in bloom, which means they will be on that shortly.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2002 at 2:40PM
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Big Fat Bumblebees, Big Fat Praying Mantis', and Big Fat Spiders! I find the bumblebees sleeping on my Salvia blue hill, and Purple Meadow Sage flowers, at night. I think they all got extra goodies this summer, because of lack of rainy days to "keep them inside"! :-D

    Bookmark   September 25, 2002 at 10:15PM
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Don't forget monarda. It is a bumblebee magnet in my yard. They also like the echinacea & sunflowers.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2002 at 10:05AM
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My Sourwood tree is the very best bumblebee magnet, outdoing any shrub or flowering perennial by a huge margin!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2002 at 9:18AM
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I had them, too - 2 big fat guys who hung around for weeks. They liked the petunias and the cucumber vine blossoms. I know 2 doesn't sound like much, but I'm in Manhattan, so was happy to see them.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2002 at 6:19PM
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Dswan(z6 UT)

I started this thread back in June and I am proud to say, there are still bumblebees taking advantage of my offerings in my yard. Agastache cana is a favorite now that they don't have hummingbirds to compete with.

The numbers have dropped off as the days have got shorter and the nights have got longer and colder. Hopefully, next year will also be a banner year for bumblebees.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2002 at 8:43PM
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For major bee attracting flowers there were swarms of of bees on Caryopteris incana (common bluebeard) that was being sold in late summer at Lowes. I had to have a couple and they really do attract a lot of bees. Also the bumbles really love our pink rhododendrons in the spring.

If you are having pollination problems, Id suggest Knox Cellars at www.knoxcellars.com they can provide native docile non-stinging orchard mason bee and osmia californic bees, and bee nesting blocks and they even have bumble bee homes. Last year we started with an orchard mason been kit and they really were fascinating and helpful to our garden. They have an extremely good pollination rate too!

    Bookmark   February 5, 2003 at 6:44PM
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Bullnettle(z8b TX)

The best bumblebee attractors in my yard are Indigo spires salvia, bog sage, salvia melissadora, salvia ballotiflora. They stay on them from dawn to dusk, whenever they're in bloom, which is from spring to fall here, except for melissadora, which blooms in the fall.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2003 at 5:53PM
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We have some everbearing raspberries that grow along a back-
yard fence, and these bushes are very popular with the
bumblebees. I was consistently able to find bees feeding on
the raspberry blossoms all summer and fall, 2002. They
seemed to prefer the raspberries to everything else we have
growing here.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2003 at 11:26AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Carpenter bees are out already around here but no Bumble bees that I have seen yet.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2003 at 10:24PM
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Saw the first bumblebee of the season zooming across our
back yard today. We have daffodils in bloom but not much

    Bookmark   April 27, 2003 at 4:05PM
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Dswan(z6 UT)

They are definately back. I've got the big yellow bumblebees (I think they are queens that are stocking up for a brood back at the nest) and I also have orange striped bumblebees. They've rediscovered the nepeta plants as well as some of the bulbs such as grape hyacinths.

Eric, it sounds like it's still a little cold up there in Wisconsin. My daffodils are all spent and so are most of my tulips.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2003 at 10:42PM
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morganwolf(z10 FL USA)

I read recently that there's an exotic virus taking a high toll on our honeybees. Congrats on all the bumbles! They may be expanding to fill a vacating niche.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2003 at 11:20PM
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So far this spring I have seen very few bumblebees in our
yard. The winter was typically cold, but not unusual. But
we had no significant snow until March, so for most of the
winter the ground was bare. We also had significant freeze
damage to the blueberry shrubs, for the first time in 10 years.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2003 at 9:51AM
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Furpaws(z6 SE Michigan)

I think some bumbles have found a home in the brushpile out in my wild/bird garden. That's ok! They've been pretty busy at the lily-of-the-valley and grape hyacinths in my front flower bed, too.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2003 at 12:36PM
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Jonesy(z6 midwest)

My neighbor had carpenter bees so bad she couldn't sit on her patio, they were flying around her all the time. She bought termite poison, sprayed it into the holes in her wooden deck cover, then she spray the outside of the beams. She has to spray two more times a month apart then she will fill the holes with wood putty. They are gone now, just wanted you to know it does work.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2003 at 5:12PM
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Dswan(z6 UT)

Good to know that valuable pollinators are being poisoned. The large numbers of carpenter bees, bumble bees, honeybees and the other types of bees and wasps pretty much leave me alone except for a periodic yellow jacket with an attitude.

Eric, too bad you've got fewer of them this year. Hopefully as the weather warms, there will be more of them around. I've mostly seen really big yellow bumblebees that are probably queens that over-wintered, but I'm starting to see smaller sisters showing up.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2003 at 5:36PM
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gardeninggrrl(z5 IL)

I'm glad to see so many bumble lovers here! Last year I specifically planted things that I had read they would like, from joe pye weed to monarda and a nice butterfly bush........this year I'm making sure I plant hyssop and nepeta as well. (This is all in addition to my array of other flowers!)

Saw my first bumble a while ago, but just yesterday I saw a HUGE bumblebee zipping around. Sounds like it was a queen? I don't know much about bees, except that the more the merrier......

    Bookmark   May 22, 2003 at 1:54AM
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I've actually seen a couple of bumble bees this year, which gives me hope they may be on the comeback. Over all, though, I've seen very few pollinators in general. The butterflies are late coming out. I planted an African Blue Basil this year, because the one at work last summer was constantly covered with bees (mostly honeybees). So far, I've only seen bees on my French Hollyhock. They've been ignoring my blue Basil. Go figure. I have my fingers crossed that I'll be seeing more bumble bees this year.


    Bookmark   May 26, 2003 at 9:48AM
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As a kid(back in 70s and 80s),I use to see so many different bees. But in my young adault years,I hardly see them. But now as I started growing milkweed species few years ago,I see few. I hope I will get to see more this year? I did notice bees loved the Common Milkweed. So they must really love plants that have sweet smell to them?

    Bookmark   May 28, 2003 at 11:57PM
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About a month ago my husband commented on how many bumble bees were in the bladdernut beside our deck.I said "That's good , they'll take the place of the honey bees that we no longer have."
I had a 'run-in' with bumble bees , several years ago.I was mowing a lawn where I was the 'yardman'.I moved a trash can so I could mow the spot.It had a bumble bee nest under it , and they didn't take kindly to being disturbed ! I beat a hasty retreat , over a high board fence and into the house,but not before getting stung 3 times!!
Normally they are 'non-violent'!!
I'm not afraid of them , and practically brush against them when I'm working around my flowers.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2003 at 9:23AM
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msmarieh(Z5/N IL)

I have Anise Hyssop 'Blue Fortune' in my herb garden and last year it was COVERED with bumblebees. On any given day at any given time there were at least 1-2 dozen on there. In addition, I had probably 2 dozen yellow sulphurs on at the same time.

During the fall the bumblebees went for my New England Asters in particular.

If it's as active this year (and I think it will be) I'll try to catch a picture of it. It was gorgeous!!!


    Bookmark   May 29, 2003 at 12:11PM
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cjlambert(6b Tulsa)

Wow... nice that so many appreciate bees. Mom always told me that they go for blue flowers, and that's held true in our yard. Our nepeta is the only blue blooming now, but last year the lemon monarda was continually covered with bumblebees. Like gardeningal, I try to share space with them... We put in a new bed up front this year, right by the sidewalk, and I couldn't resist putting in a couple of lemon monardas. Hope we don't get sued...

    Bookmark   May 29, 2003 at 7:38PM
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plantlust(z5ish IL)

I too have a bumblebee haven in my yard. In addition, the last 2-3 yrs I've noticed miner bees nesting...woo hoo!!

Just wanted to let all y'all know to keep your eyes open. If you have a bumblebee haven, it won't be (urk, bad pun) long before you will get a predator or two. I happened to be in the section of my yard that is a recreated woodland a couple of years ago when I noticed what looked like a bumblebee on the leaf of an Arrowwood Viburnum. Odd, thought I, Why is this guy sitting on a leaf? So I walked closer and crouched down to look at it. AND IT TURNED ITS HEAD TO LOOK AT ME. That's when I noticed more details. legs positioned funny, wings slightly off and bumblebees don't turn their head to look at you. After abit of research, I found a reference to a Beekiller. It ambushes bumblebees or other large flying insects from above.

Never knew about that before.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2003 at 8:02AM
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WiValerie(z4 WI)

Bumbles love lavendar in my garden. I have it all along the front walk right up to the front porch. It hasn't bloomed yet and it didn't do very well this winter due to the severe cold and little snow. My garden really suffered this winter with poor conditions. Plants and trees here do much better with snow cover for insulation. Hopefully when I cut away the dead lavendar stems the roots will send up more branches. It's pretty chilly today, might reach 60. Still chilly for bees. VAL

    Bookmark   May 31, 2003 at 10:15AM
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Today I noticed a juvenile bumblebee feeding on blueberry
blossoms in our yard. So it looks like there is some
reproduction going on, and the population of bees may grow.
If it ever stops raining, and warms up a bit...

    Bookmark   June 8, 2003 at 10:11PM
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bdot(z7b Cary,NC)

I have seen a lot of bumblebees this year too. One of my Sedum Autumn Joy's decided to bloom in the spring instead of the fall and the bumblebees love the thing.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2003 at 8:14AM
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daviddmc(z6 NJ)

Like was mentioned already, the big fuzzy bumblebees absolutely LOVE my everbearing raspberries. They buzz all over the blossoms. Most of the blossoms are now small forming fruit, so the bees haven't been around them. I feel kinda bad! :-)

    Bookmark   June 13, 2003 at 4:35PM
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Dswan(z6 UT)

This year's favorite bumblebee flower has been penstemon palmeri. They grow about six feet high with light pink blossoms that a bumblebee fits in like a glove.

I can't believe this thread is still out there. I started it last June. It's good to see so many bumblebee lovers out there.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2003 at 3:42PM
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bdot(z7b Cary,NC)

My bumblebees probably wish I didn't come home each day cause I like to walk by and pet them on the back when I get home from work. :)

    Bookmark   June 18, 2003 at 8:43AM
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Am finally starting to consistently find bumblebees feeding
in our yard. They are juveniles, about half size, but its
July, they have the rest of the summer to gain some weight!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2003 at 9:32PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Joe-pye Weed and Agastache have been absolutely covered in Bumblebees this year.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2003 at 12:58PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Late in the year but the Bumblebees are still going strong. The Goldenrod is usually covered in them, plus they have been into the Butterfly bushes which are still blooming. Also into the last of the Hyssopp flowers that they love. We had lots of Borage flowers this summer which also were a magnet, plus the Scarlett Runner Beans.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2003 at 12:24PM
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I've had more bees than ever in my garden this year. Lots of big ones and I have a live oak tree that literally has hundreds of bees swarming around on it. It's been that way for about 2 months. I don't see a hive anywhere. I wonder how long they'll stick around?

    Bookmark   October 15, 2003 at 3:57PM
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Just to point out to all you bee lovers, honeybees are not native to North America...they are introduced from Europe and formally known as the European Honeybee. In some areas of the country, non-native honeybees outcompete native pollinators at plants, particularly in the desert southwest where populations of native bees have declined in part due to introduction of the honeybee. So, when you think of the honeybees as "our" honeybees, think again, they are not native and in some cases, can be bad for native bees and as a consequence, the plants they pollinate.

I am fortunate to live on the edge of the shrub steppe and notice many native bees going to my flowers this year. The bumbles really like the scabiosa (pincushion flower) and the veronica. They also like the coneflower. The little native bees really liked the coreopsis, scabiosa, and the rudbeckia.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2003 at 6:43PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

I have decided that I am going to get a Winter Fragrant Bush Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) for planting this spring. Since they are supposed to bloom very early, probably March or April around here on Long Island (I am guessing on those dates) I expect the only bees out to pollinate them will be the Bumble and Carpenter Bees.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2004 at 5:25PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

The Catmint has just started blooming here. I have noticed less Bumblebees this spring than normal.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2004 at 7:07PM
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I have seen several bumblebees in our yard, but it's early
yet. The blueberries have just started to bloom, the
dandelions are blooming, and we have purple blooms of
creeping charlie around the lawn.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2004 at 9:53PM
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Dswan(z6 UT)

My blue salvias and penstemons are drawing in a bunch of bumblebees this year. It's good to see them. Does anyone know how many varieties there are of these bees. I've seen huge yellow and black ones, as well as smaller ones with an orange part on them. I love them all, but I wonder if there are web resources that identify different types.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2004 at 5:12PM
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dampflippers(Tyne & Wear UK)

If anyone in Britain has bumblebees, these are now in the decline, so you should help by preserving and providing nesting places. Some Wildlife trusts are cuurently doing bumblebee surveys. If you would like to take part, get in touch with your local wildlife trust. I have been told there is a survey /poster in this month's BBC wildlife magazine.
ps we have the orange bottomed big ones which seem to live in the cracks in our old concrete path.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2004 at 5:05AM
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dampflippers(Tyne & Wear UK)

I have found this article about British bumble bees on the BBC website.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bumblebee article

    Bookmark   May 17, 2004 at 5:12AM
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Dswan - Here's one website that tries to identify a species of bumblebee (Bombus spp.) from a descritpion that you enter.

From what I have gathered on other sites, there are about 50 - 60 different kinds of bumblebees in the US.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bumblebee Identification

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 1:15AM
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Just noticed that you were in Utah. This site might be even more helpful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Northern Utah Bumblebees

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 1:25AM
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There is a wonderful article in Birds and Blooms about
creating a bee habitat.
It suggested that you take coffee cans, (or things with like sized openings) cut straws to simulate honeycombs, bees will move into it. In hot climates be sure to provide shade if using metal cans.
Another one was to take a terra cotta planter and turn it upside down set it up on rocks so that it is lifted off the ground a bit, and put a cork in the drainage hole.
Bumblebees (I think were the species) will make a home of it in your garden.
Just be sure not to move it, they do not like their homes disturbes once they have moved in.
I too have many bee friendly plants.
Joe pye weed, many agastache's Nepta, honeysuckle, hyssop,
blackberries, raspberries, a wildflower garden and MUCH more.
Yet... I am missing my bee visitors this year, my garden has been mostly vacant of any little flying jewels, no butterflies, and no bees to speak of.
I think maybe Texas has been spraying for mosquito's too much and the insect population is suffering.
What a sad thing to see.
I think I am going to add some bee homes, even though DH's response to me was "You know I dont like things buzzing around my head all the time, but you do what you want, you never listen to me when it comes to things like this anyway" heheheh...
the funny thing is he is ABSOLUTELY RIGHT.
My defense is... "Well you travel so much, you loose your right to vote" LOL...
And my 10 year old little girl is with me, WE LOVE BEES.
2 to 1 he's outvoted !!!:~)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 8:09PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Well, I may have noticed less Bumblebees in the Spring than normal but come the warmer weather and Summer, they are everywhere. More so than usual. Of course, I have been planting more flowers, shrubs and vines in the garden for 4 years now so there is much for them to visit!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2004 at 7:10PM
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The everbearing raspberries are blooming heavily, and the local bumblebees are in heaven. Happens every summer here.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2004 at 7:45PM
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When we moved to where we live now in 99 I was lucky to see 2 or 3 bees all summer long. The numbers have been slowly rising every year and this year we have had a bee explosion! I am so jazzed. Many times I've seen up to 5 or 6 honeybees and/or bumblebees on a single plant repeated throughout the yard. In our yard they seem to prefer basil in bloom, borage, monarda, catnip, bluebeard, st. johns wort, and cilantro. The bumblebees are especially fond of the catnip. I had planned on pinching the blooms off the basil but when I saw how much the honeybees liked it I let it bloom.

I remember as a child seeing dozens of bees on a single bush. We would play a game called 'pet the bee'. Last one to get stung won.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2004 at 2:49PM
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too_many_pets(LI Z7)

The bees were wild about my Echinacea this year!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2004 at 8:35AM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Well, pretty soon the crocus will be out which means it's the start of bee season!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2005 at 12:32PM
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A friend just rang to say she'd just seen two or three bumble bees (my favorite insect) flying about. Is this early or what? Mind you she has a `year-round' garden, with something blooming almost always.

[In last few days had to usher out some attic butterflies - is that early too?]

Ray D

    Bookmark   March 24, 2005 at 9:46PM
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angel_kittys_mom(6a OH)

I can't help it but the bumblebees scare me -- they seem to dive-bomb for me everytime I'm outside. I would *SO* much rather have honeybees!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2005 at 10:45AM
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I also love native bees and do a lot to attract them to my garden. The bumbles are really docile and I can mow the lawn right by the flower bed when they are foraging and they just fly around and go back to pollinating. Some of the plants that the bumbles and other native bees love are:

Globe Thistle (excellent for bumbles)
Penstemon barbatus
Salvia 'Blue Hill'
Purple coneflower
perennial oregano
Scabiosa (pincushion flower)
Gaillardia (Blanket flower)

This year I am planting for them and the butterflies:

Salvia nemerosa 'May Night"
Helianthus maximilian
Nepeta x Faessinii (catmint)
Salvia reptens
Hyssop officinalis
Ratibida (prairie coneflower)
Stachys macrantha
Agastache neomexicana

Should be plenty of buzzing in the yard this year!


    Bookmark   April 12, 2005 at 1:16AM
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naturelover(z8 WA)

I have a Buddleja Globosa and there are cute bee's sleeping on it right now as the sun is setting. Has anyone ever heard of this or experienced it? I am wondering if they are honey bees.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2005 at 10:57PM
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