Tag Archives: goldenrod

Bees in the goldenrod

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.

You won’t believe this one weird habit of bumblebees!

The bumblebees have this strange habit that I don’t understand.

Overnight, they latch onto the underside of the goldenrod flowers, and hang there overnight.  It gets cold enough for all of them to go catatonic, and they cling there overnight, curled hard and still as if they were dead, not reacting to being brushed or touched.

This is not just  a few bees that get caught out too late.  There can be a dozen on one big goldenrod plume, and since we have a lot of goldenrod, in the evening and the morning, we can look across a swathe of it and see hundreds of bees, hanging still like odd fruit.  20160804_075643

Then once the sun casts across them in the morning, they reanimate, and take up where they left off, buzzing, grazing, and bumbling.  Sometimes it goes badly- the weather will change, and I’ll see them caught out in a cool or rainy morning.

So weird!  Is this just a thing that they do?  Too busy to go home at night? They do it for many nights in the summer, during the goldenrod rush.