Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Thursday, November 11, 2010

This Is The Place To Bee

Right smack dab in the middle of the Susans Bed is where the humble Bumbles are gathering these days.

You'll find them on the last of the ex-asters which looks as fresh as the first blooms in September.

Miss Bessie, or Willow Leaved Aster/Symphyotrichum praealtum is a late blooming native that was introduced to me by my friend and fellow gardenblogger Sweetbay. It's THE gathering place for all the bumbles at the end of a hard day!

These gentle pollinators rarely get riled as they go about their business of collecting pollen and nectar for their young. Females can sting, but, as long as I've gardened I've never seen them be anything but, curious at my antics. Let them bee in your garden. Give them leaves and soil to nest in and flowers to sup from. You will be rewarded with an up close and personal 'friendship'....and, pollinated crops!

Here is what I want you to do~Get as close as you can to a bumble. Close enough to hear their buzzing. Now watch and listen carefully. Bees beat their wings approximately 200 times a second, but, the buzzing you're hearing is not their wings. It's the vibration of their thorax muscle! A muscle in their chest that's designed to pump and warm them internally. This warmth allows them to lift and fly about the garden on cool days. They are the first pollinators up and about each morning and the last to leave my garden at night!

Now, when I see them sleeping in the cool autumn morning~I find myself waiting and ready to announce~

Bumbles start your engine!



  1. Oh that is brilliant, Gail!!! Love the racing engine metaphor and will dutifully go out to listen today. It is to be sunny and warm, high in the 70s and I know where the bees are hanging, on the mums. That aster is a beauty! :-)

  2. I think the bumbles are gone from my garden. It will warm tomorrow so perhaps I can hear an engine or two roar over by the Sheffies. I didn't know they were humming.

  3. I was not aware of what made the buzz.I enjoy sitting down amongst a big area of blooms and just listening to the latest buzz.I have had a few challenge my placing the camera close, but very rarely.Very nice post!I am nearing the end of planting bulbs, can you ever have enough?

  4. I love watching the bees but had no idea what the buzzing was from. Great information. Unfortunately our bumbles have all gone to sleep for the winter here, tucked away in their nest under the shed and hopefully to return come spring.

  5. The bumble bees have been gone from New Hampshire for a long time. Almost all the leaves are off the trees here and before long we'll have our first snowstorm. I love the hum of the bumbles Gailie...

  6. Sadly, at this time of year it is dark when I get home from work and I am missing my time to de-stress while watching the bumbles in the late afternoon sun. I love the bumbles and have never been stung, even though I am often very, very close.

  7. Beautiful post Gail, I just love your words, well of course i like the photos too. The last one is pure art.
    All my bees are all gone by now unfortunately, but they be back soon(ish)


  8. How sweet that you still have pollinators in your garden, and how lucky your readers are to share your patient exploration of their habits and habitat!

  9. No bumbles left here, either, at this time of the year... so it was especially nice to see them in your post! :-)

  10. L.O.V.E. this post! I'm missing the bees... haven't seen nor heard them for several days now. It has turned rather cold here.

  11. Our bees are gone to wherever they go in the fall. I miss them, and even more, the flowers!

  12. You lucky dog still having bumbles buzzing around the garden. They are gentle creatures. They just want the pollen/nectar. The teddies of the garden scene.

  13. I also did not know the source of their buzz. Thank you for that factoid!

  14. Interesting to know about the thorax. Can't wait to see them again next spring!

  15. It's almost like they are purring, isn't it? Whether or not they are happy about keeping their motors running, I love seeing Bumbles in my garden. I have yet to see one sleeping, but I keep looking.

  16. What a great ending, Gail! The bumbles must be racing to see who can be the first to enjoy that delicious aster.

    I see I'm not the only one who hasn't seen a bee for awhile. It's been so warm here this week, but I think the bumbles packed their bags and left for their winter homes last week when it was so cold.

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos of such gentle creatures and for the explanation of their buzzing--I have learned something new here once again!

  17. It is soothing to watch the bumbles. Mine are still after the big purple plants {that's like wondering Jew} that have a small pink bloom. Name unknown just now. Must find & make a name label for it. It was a pass-a-long from brother from Ga.

  18. Clever metaphor Gail. I'm already missing those warm, sunny, bumblebee days and they've only been gone since Tuesday. It snowed here today so that makes your pictures even more priceless. I'm wondering if we'll see anymore bees in the garden until next spring now?

  19. Love having the Bumbles in my gardens...I hear them long before I see them, fun post Gail.

  20. Very interesting, I didn't know where the buzzing came from. I must plant more asters for the fall. They are so beautiful.

  21. That explains why they are always out and about first thing on a cool morning while the other bees are still asleep. There was me thinking it was their wooly coats keeping them warm!

  22. You never miss a 'bumble' beat, dear Gail! Thanks dear friend for keeping us all tuned in/focused on the awesome, often never heard, frequencies in life.

  23. How lovely to see your asters still blooming and attracting the bees. Mine is now just a mound of dark green foliage. I think I will have to wait for Spring to try your "bess, start your engines", assuming I am ever up early enough to catch them napping!

  24. Those bees are adorable. I had always thought that the buzzing came from the wings but not so, very interesting! Miss Bessie is the happening place here too. So busy that when you pass by Miss Bessie sounds like a big bee hive.

  25. Oh how we're missing the pollinators (and the pollen,) already Gail. The weather's still mild here, but the pollinators have moved on. It's a pleasure enjoying them long-distance from your garden.

    I've never been stung by a bumble in the garden. The only time one's ever gotten me is when I was six and tried to rescue one from drowning in my cousin's pool.

    p.s. - I like your spammers strategy. Turning comment moderation on for older posts is working like a charm for me too.

  26. I have a soft spot for the Bumbles, they seem a little less possessed by the work effort that keeps Honeybees all business.

  27. Gail,
    You've capture the spirit of bumblebees exactly. How brilliant!


  28. Whenever I spot a sleeping bumble in my garden, I think of you, Gail! I've even managed to gently pet one without rousing her. Now I'll be out there leaning in to listen to their good vibrations!

  29. Gail girl !
    Hello there YOU : ) .. I was treated to some wonderful garden therapy yesterday .. we had amazing weather and it was hard to hold myself back because i literally lost half of the garden season if not more .. I love smelling the leaves ... doing a bit of raking .. connecting with my garden was the best medicine possible for me : )
    Your bees are perfect ! and I too have never been stung or bothered by these very gentle busy buzzy bees .. they are wonderful and I do appreciate them along with rare sightings of the angelic ? butterflies we had this year .. I hope next year is as generous too !
    Take Care : )
    PS .. I am just getting caught up with blogs now as well .. I don't know where the days have gone but they seem to be speeding by don't they ? ;-)

  30. Gsil....be still my beating heart. I was feeling a little down today, basically missing the bees and butterflies. The wet weather has sent them all packing.
    Then I visit clay and limestone and there they are, bumbles, my most favourite subject. Thank you.

    BTW did you know that bumbles have smelly feet. I jest not. When they visit a flower they leave the scent behind, telling other bumbles the bloom has already been pollinated. You may have noticed, very often a bumble swoops over a bloom, ignoring it.....that is the reason.

  31. I learned some things from this post, too. I didn't know that about the buzz. How cool!

    I forgot to mention I enjoyed the photos of your place, too. I am so ready for spring to get here!

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"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson