The Bees Sure Do Like NE Aster
I’ve read that New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is an important source of nectar for Monarch Butterflies on their southern migration. From casual observation, though, I have to conclude that Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) is a much bigger draw for Monarchs and other butterflies as well.
Bees, are a different story, though. Right now the New England Asters are covered with bees of many kinds.
The two pictures above are both some kind of metallic green bee, I think. The name seems apt.
Medium-size and smaller bees seem to prefer New England Aster to the Tithonia.
When you look close, it seems like they are shoving their faces right into the disc flowers. Makes me think of someone in a pie-eating contest.
The bumble bees seem to like Tithonia and New England Aster about equally.
Based on what I’ve seen in my garden, bees love asters of all kinds. I’d say it’s a good idea to have a mix of Aster species both for fall blooms and to provide an outdoor buffet for the pollinators.
You captured some really great shots. I know just a little about the green bees, but I remember they are short-tounged, so only visit flowers with easily accessible nectar.
I didn’t know that much. So I guess they stay away from tubular flowers.
The asters are providing a banquet. Green bees? Struth, who knew!xxx
Strange, isn’t it?
I like that description with the pie! 😉 You have convinced me – I am going to order another couple of asters. Now, which ones….
Have never seen the green bee, but the others are all over my New England asters.
It’s clearly a bee favorite.
The green bee might be one of those sweat bees. We have them here, though I haven’t seen many of them this year. My New England Asters are covered in bumblebees, though!
I googled sweat bee images and I think you may be right.
I’m glad you have them!
I don’t have Tithonia, but the Monarchs prefer the Zinnias here, until the Swamp Milkweed blooms–at that point every pollinator in the garden zooms to the Swamp Milkweed for nectar (and in the case of the Monarchs, to lay eggs). I do have a few Asters, but here the bees and other pollinators seem to prefer the Blue Mistflower after the Swamp Milkweed is done blooming. The Mistflower is still blooming and has been doing so since mid-August! If I had more sun (maybe in my next garden) I’d plant Tithonia. You’ve convinced me. 🙂
I should try some mistflower – it tolerates a fair amount of shade, right?
Look at all those happy, productive bees! Fabulous photos, just beautiful!
Looks warm and sunny in your garden, lovely to see the bees
It has been unusually warm for October.
Long may it last
Wow, I haven’t looked at our bees that closely, but I’m sure we don’t have that metallic green bee, it is amazing. We have a Chinese Tallow tree that attracts more bees than any other plant we’ve ever had, and if a green metallic bee shows up here in Australia, it will be on that tree. I’ll be looking out this year.
I have never heard of a Chinese Tallow tree. Sounds interesting.
I’ll take a photo in summer..
What a fabulous colour the Green Bee is! My Asters are covered in bees too, it seems to be their favourite plant at the moment.
True. Of course, around here there aren’t a lot of other blooms.
Yes it does, though there are few other flowers around here at this point.
The green bee is amazing, we have beetles of that colour but I’ve never seen a bee that colour.
It is pretty cool.
I love the “face in a pie” statement. It is oh so true.
It does look that way, doesn’t it?
I agree with Indie that the green bee likely is a sweat bee. We have lots of them here in Maine, although I haven’t seen many in the past few weeks. Our unusually warm October is a bit tough on honeybees. They are still flying because it’s so warm, but there is less and less nectar available. Our asters are still blooming but I doubt they are giving much nectar now. To support their extra flying time, they are having to turn to their winter honey stores. As a result, we are having to feed our bees for a longer period this fall to make sure they have enough for winter.
I wouldn’t have thought of that. Gosh, the bees don’t need yet another problem.
They may be our coal mine canaries.
Such an informative post and such informative comments. I love those stars of autumn.
I have some wild asters in my garden that look very similar to your NE aster. I’ll have to check them out for bee shenanigans 🙂
I bet you’ll find some.
My asters have died down for the time being but see a few volunteer seedlings nearby. Can’t wait for it to rebloom and the bees that love them!
The later Asters are still blooming around here. I don’t know if there will be any rebloom.
Every year about this time I am reminded to add more asters. They really do a great job of extending the season.
Consider yourself reminded!
Green bees?! No green bees here in the UK but the regular types love our asters too. Providing nectar for as long as possible is a good deed for biodiversity 🙂
I think so, too.
Asters are among my favorite fall flowers from New England. Beautiful photos!
Thank you. The fall garden would certainly seem incomplete without asters.
My bees seem to prefer smooth aster (Symphyotrichum laeve) ‘Bluebird’ to the New England aster — but that may be because my NE aster is the bright pink cultivar ‘Alma Potschke.’ There is a really nice looking wild NE aster growing near the side of the road not far from my house; I’m going to try collecting seeds from it so that I can grow the straight species.
I’ve never grown Smooth Aster. I like the wild NE Aster in part because of the variations in flower color.