I have a field full of goldenrod. Mowing and discing it a couple years ago benefited the goldenrod more than anything else, and now there is less grass, clover and diversity than before.
I’m ok with that, for now. I have a bee forage field now, and it seems like the bees are coming from miles around for it.
I barely saw any bumblebees all spring and summer; I was worried. It was notable when I did see one. But when the goldenrod started, the bees were back in bigger numbers than ever. Now I’m finding them in water buckets, in my hair, in the house – getting into their usual trouble. Just about every flower head has a half dozen bees bumbling around in it, and looking over the top of the field, it’s just dotted with bees dangling in the flowers and their hum is a quiet roar. They sleep in the goldenrod, too. In the morning they are all stock still (it’s cold), just paused in their work. Some of my honeybees are among them but most are bumbles, and the goldenrod has a long season, with flowers ripening in stages, and even parts of the same plant blooming in succession. It’s a big bee party.
I’ve been suspecting that I had bumblebees nesting along our path through the woods. I’ve heard and seen them flying low and sort of furtively in the area, since last year.
Then I learned more about bumblebees and that it’s sort of special to find a nest (they burrow in the ground), so I was keeping a more attentive eye out. Yesterday I happened to be walking out in the morning and caught a medium sized bee in the act of leaving her burrow, rather clumsily and noisily, bzzzZZzzz, like she hadn’t had her coffee yet. I knew it!
I found four little holes in the area, two of which have perfectly clean entrances you can see into before the tunnel curves (so I’m sure those are in use). What do they do in the rain? They remind me of bank-dwelling swallows. They seem to like the clayey soil and the compacted dirt of our path.
I must report to bumblebee watch. It’s going to be awfully hard to figure out what kind of bumblebees live there. It will be a long stakeout, or else I’ll have to set up a trail cam, ararar!