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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Where Have All The Pollinators Gone?

 They're still here!

Especially now that the Willowleaf Aster is in bloom.   It's THE gathering place for all the bumbles and a few smaller bees at the end of a hard day!  Boy, do they ever have hard days!
Now that's a  beauty of Green Metallic Bee on an asteraceae!
Before winter begins our native bees need to collect as much pollen and nectar for their offspring as is possible.  Some will work themselves to exhaustion and sleep on the underside of the plant  until the sun warms their bodies to over 50F when they'll buzz back to work. 

If you garden in a climate colder then mine, your local bees may have already decamped for the winter.   Decamped being a euphemism for shuffled off this mortal coil or perhaps even gone underground.   But, here, the local/native bees are still working  flowers for every bit of pollen and nectar they can collect.   When a killing frost  finally puts the  flowers out of the pollen/nectar making business,  our Bumbles and small bees will spend the winter in their nest  as  immature  larvae or in an adult stage waiting until Spring to emerge and begin their short and intensely busy life cycle.   

In the meantime, Symphyotrichum praealtum 'Miss Bessie' (here to see if  she'll grow in your garden)   and other late blooming plants  are hosting a party for every Bumble, Bee Mimic, Wasp, Bee Fly or  Honeybee that lives here or visits the garden.  The party will last most of November and even survive mild frosts.

Please feel free to stop by to say hello to  the revelers! 


PS In case you've forgotten the Golden Rules for attracting pollinators to your garden:
  • plant large swathes of pollinator friendly, nectar and pollen producers
  • plant host plants~don't stop at nectar and pollen plants
  • plan for bloom from late spring to early winter.
  • bee sure to include water
  • provide nesting sites for a variety of visitors,  leave some bare ground (ix-nay on the plastic landscape cloth), decaying logs and even special bee houses
Now, please raise your hand and solemnly swear that you will never, ever, ever, ever, ever use pesticides in your garden. Now don't you feel better for having made that commitment! I know I do. 

In case you want to read earlier pollinator posts~

Now Is The Time To Bee-gin Thinking About Bees (
This Is The Place To Bee ( here)
If You Could Plant Only One Plant In Your Garden~Don't (here)
Must Bee The Season of The Witch (here)
Go Bare In Your Garden (here)
We can't All Be Pretty Pollinators (here)
Eye, Eye Skipper, Big Eyed Pollinators (here)
What's In Your Garden (here)
Royalty In The Garden~Monarch Butterfly (here)
Carpenter Bees (here)

Got Wildflowers?(here)
It's Spring and A Gardener's Thoughts Are On Pollinators (here)
The Wildflower and The Bee (here)
A Few Good Reasons To Plant Milkweek (here)
Got Shade? You Can Have Pollinators ( (here)
A Pollinator friendly Shrub (here)
Big Goings On at C and L (here)

Other bee posts you might want to read~

Count Yourself Lucky To Have Hoverflies (
Bumblebee Hotel (here)
Still Taking Care Of Bzzness (here)
My Sweet Embraceable You (here)

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone."


  1. We still have some "buzzing" going on around here...Love to see them in that pollen induced sleep in the mornings.

  2. Too sweet, Gail. The bees are still a'buzzin' around here, as well. It's a good thing there are flowers that bloom this late for the little dears.

  3. Little Hailey always tries to 'pet' the bees until I warn her. They look so soft and fuzzy. Today may be warm enough to see if there are any pollinators left in the garden. I will let you know.

  4. We still have some gaillardia blooming away that the bees are enjoying. Good to the last drop I guess!

  5. The bees are still busy in my garden. Even some butterflies still. I love all the movement they make amongst the blooms.

  6. I can't believe you still have asters in bloom! Good to see your native busy bees so late in the season. We're not seeing as many bumbles about now, but our flowers are almost completely gone, and our first real frost is expected to hit tomorrow! Hopefully though there are lots of future native bees tucked snug under the soil, or in trees and plants in the garden, that will emerge next spring.

  7. We've had a couple hard frosts now so the pollinators have gone into winter mode but in the last couple weeks I've noticed bees asleep in flowers. Like you I thought they must be working pretty hard to fall asleep on the job like that.

  8. Here in Zone 5, the bumbles are still buzzing around the ex-aster Symphyotrichum laeve and the lavender, while the hover flies and smaller bees have gravitated toward the pansies and the mum. It won't be long before they're gone, and I will miss them very much.

  9. In spite of a few frosts, I continue to see butterflies here. Bees and buzzing, too. I'm so ready to pull out my zinnias, but they are still blooming for the pollinators...I need to get those out to sow my fall seeds for spring!

  10. Gail,
    What an excellent post about our native bees! And with great links to your previous ones. Kudos!

    We haven't had a killing frost yet here, just light frosts in lower lying areas, with the sweet potato vines blackened on exposed slopes at the Garden.

    And tomato vines are still green! They're not going to produce much more in terms of tasty tomatoes though.


  11. Your Willowleaf Aster image is awesome, Gail! Not too much happening here as the weather is cold and my November garden put to bed for the winter. A delight to see action!

  12. The pollinators are all grouped around 'Miss Bessie' here too. That and the Groundsel Trees. I think they are grateful for late bloomers!

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