Saturday, August 23, 2014

Flowers and the Bees

I like to plant flowers every year for the bees. I have lots of sweet alyssum, but one of my favorites is the zinnias. Even when I don't deadhead them they will continue to bloom wonderfully. But now the zinnias have no bees around them. I didn't see one there this morning. There are two reasons why.

The first would be this plant. It is a 9' tall Lemon Queen sunflower. I don't plant sunflowers anymore. I did the first year and after that they just come up. This spot is in my rock wall garden along the road. I never even had a sunflower close to this before, but I suspect a squirrel stole a flower from somewhere else and ate it on top of the wall.

Bees love these as much as the birds and the squirrels do. Yesterday when coming home I stopped in front of the driveway watching the goldfinch eat.

The other reason the zinnias have no bees are these yellow mustard flowers. I'm growing them for seed, but you would think I'm growing them for the bees.

The honey bees swarm the plants and one of my favorite things to do is go outside and stand right near them and listen to their buzzing. I know lot of people get freaked out by buzzing bees, but to me it does the opposite.

Now I tried to take photos of the bumblebees, but none of them came out well. So I'll show you a flower that doesn't seem to attract any bees. It is in the morning glory family - a sweet potato flower. Most don't flower for me, but the Garnet always puts out some pretty pink flowers that hide in the foliage. That was something I forgot when I put the a Garnet into my front door planter. I have other orange flowers in there and the colors clash badly. If my potted sweet potato experiment works out I'll have to do a pink or maybe a blue flower in there next year. But not orange.

I'm supposed to cut off the garlic chive flowers as scapes to eat, but I never seem to get around to it in time. And I really don't mind as it attracts a lot of different kinds of wasps. Above is a Great Black Wasp. They get pretty big at maybe an inch and a half (4cm). They have the prettiest iridescent blue wings. They don't often land anywhere. Mostly I see them hovering around the garden but they seem to love these flowers and it is the only place I can get a photo. They feed katydids, grasshoppers, and crickets to their young. And lord knows I have a lot of crickets around for them the feed on. I do love my wasps. Most of them are smaller wasps that eat caterpillars. And who doesn't like fewer caterpillars eating their veggies?


  1. That lemon queen sunflower is gorgeous. All the photos are gorgeous! I had no idea garlic chives had such pretty flowers.

  2. I like to plant for bees too. Bees like simple flowers best as the pollen is more accessible so maybe that is why they are not too interested in the zinnia,

  3. I love the sound of busy bees, too! And although I've never had luck with sunflowers I've planted from seeds, each year there seems to be one volunteer that unfortunately grows within reach of a goat...chomp. I'm planning a bigger fenced garden area next year, so hopefully a row of sunflowers will get a chance to grow and flower and produce seeds.
    I love your zinnias!! Do you grow them from seed planted right in the garden?

    1. I always start them inside to get them blooming faster.

    2. Thanks, maybe I'll try growing them from seed next year. I love zinnias!

  4. Gorgeous. Reminds me I need to get some sunflowers in the garden this year. I also grow alyssum and nigella as they self seed in my yard and the bees love them. That Great Black Wasp is gorgeous.

  5. Your flowers are very pretty. I have had quite a few bees this year too. Not a lot of butterflies but saw a nice size monarch today. As long as I leave the bees alone they don't seem to bother me. Nancy

  6. We just started spotting morning glories in our sweet potatoes last week. I thought it was interesting...but noticed they looked slightly different from morning glories. Now I know! :) thx also, seeing these flowers gives me hope that my sweet potatoes are happy (this is our first time growing them & I am super curious)!

  7. That is a very impressive Sunflower! I like the fact that it has multiple blooms. I can see why it is so popular with the local wildlife.