Flowers, Berries and Bees

September 12th, 2008

The autumn season is just around the corner, and the fall honeyflow for the bees is in full swing.  Many seasonal flowers are blooming and very abundant due to all the rainfall.  I have left the bees alone for the past few weeks, and hopefully they are producing lots of honey for their winter stores. 

Sedum flowers are tiny, but the bees are covering these plants throughout the daylight hours.  Bees are fascinating insectsDid you know it takes over 2 million trips to flowers to make just 1 pound of honey?  Each worker bee lives about 6 weeks, and during that time each worker will make about 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey.  Makes me appreciate honey all the more!

Bees love Sedum flowers!

I left a large patch of these “weeds” near the pond dam, and the bees seem to love them.  I don’t know what they are called, but there’s probably a quarter acre of them about 4-5 feet tall with white flower heads.   

 Autumn flowers that bees love

Earlier this summer I didn’t see the bees around our property much, and we didn’t have many flowers blooming that were suitable for bees.  They would zoom off from the hive somewhere, and I thought they were really fast.  But honeybees can only fly about 15 mph and can be challenged on windy days to make it to the hive.  The NOVA article above says a worker bee will visit between 50-100 flowers on each trip outside the hive.  That’s a lot of work!

It’s also time to harvest some more berries.  These are “autumn berries” from the Autumn Olive or Autumnberry tree (Elaeagnus umbellata). 

Autumnberries in late summer

Autumnberry is really a very large shrub, originally from Asia.  Decades ago they were planted around the eastern U.S. to help with soil stability and erosion prevention.  Turns out they are quite invasive however and have taken over many areas. The plant is thick and branchy, with many thorns in the upper branches.  Not easy to remove.  I’ve watched a large thicket grow up in just a few years above the pond.  But the berries are edible, and we’re going to experiment with them to make jam or jelly. 

If all goes well, we may also have a little honey to go with our biscuits before the bees settle in for winter.  We’ll check on them next week!

Bee hive and Labrador Retriever in foreground

9 Responses to “Flowers, Berries and Bees”

  1. You got me on the mystery flower.

    Though worker bees life short lives while “in season” they can live up to 6 months over winter. They literally work themselves to death!

  2. I want to say “Queen Anne’s Lace” but the flower doesn’t look right.

    If you don’t have it, the Missouri Department of Conservation sells a book by Edgar Denison, now deceased but a botany professor at Washington University in St. Louis, called “Wild Flowers of Missouri.” It’s organized by color, so it’s pretty easy to use.

    Years ago, I met Edgar while I was a high school student and traipsed around the woods with him and my H.S. biology teacher searching for some weird plant that grows only on north facing sandstone cliffs in S.E. Missouri.

    I hadn’t thought about for a while.


  3. marry

    It is a interesting article. I like the picture of flower very much.

  4. Good point Ed, I had not thought about how long they live in winter. Thanks for the book idea R. How neat that you went exploring with him.

  5. I initially thought Queen Anne’s Lace too but the leaves are definitely wrong. Since QAL is a wild carrot, the leaves look more like carrots and the one in the picture definitely did not.

  6. Neat appreciation of bees and plants. I second the book recommendation, and I was wishing I had my copy here with me in Panama (I keep it at my sister’s house for when I travel to Missouri) because it would surprise me if your plant were not in that book.

  7. Hi Mary- With a second recommendation, I really need to find that book! :)

  8. Hello friends,

    If that little white flower is the same one I’m researching, it’s highly poisonous. Name is Ageratina altissima (previously known as eupatorium rugosum) commonly known as white snakeroot.
    (Is it just me, or do you want to wave a wand like Harry Potter when you say the taxonomical names of plants?)

    I’ve been trying to identify it myself, and that seems to be the best match I’ve found.

    Scroll to the lower part of this page to see the white snakeroot photo and write-up.

    Enjoying your posts.

    Love, Marla

  9. Hi Marla! Yes, I believe you are right… I learned of it some time after writing that post. Thankfully, whatever the bees may take is not an issue in terms of toxicity- and from many hours watching, the bees really don’t use the flowers very much. I love that article about Boneset and Joe pye weed (which the bees LOVE)… We’ve had a nice late summer/early Autumn after so much drought- just enough rain for tons of fall-blooming flowers, adn the bees have covered it all. Thanks for your thoughtful comment and visit!

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