My beeless Bess Balm

Maybe it’s just a local fluke, or due to current and recent local weather, but my Bee Balm is beeless and it bothers me.

My Bee Balm (official name Monarda) is usually swarming with bees this time of year, all of whom are completely entranced with the flowers. This year they are pretty much beeless.

Like most I’ve been aware of the ongoing decline in the bee population, especially of the European Honey Bee, but my Bee Balm has never not been covered in them before.
Anyone else noticing particular declines in bee numbers this year? Is there reason for me to be less freaked out than I am?

European honey bee populations have been increasing, on average.

You’re not having an unusual drought are you? A lot of plants can stop producing much, if any nectar in drought conditions. The flowers look normal to us, but bees aren’t interested.

Another nicer possibility is that something else nearby is producing more nectar, and as honeybees display what’s known as ‘crop fidelity’, they’ll largely stick to visiting one plant species at a time. It’s obvious round here with the clover; they like it, but not as much as some other stuff, so all the bees vanish off the clover, then a few weeks later whatever they were visiting finishes, and they’re all back again.

No, no drought. We had exceptionally persistent rains earlier in the year though. And the bees that swarm my Bee Balm most years have been varied, sorry if I implied only European honey bees. Although many big bumblebees commonly.


**Managed European honey bee hive numbers are holding their own on average, despite elevated bee death rates as beekeepers are managing to create new hives in replacement.

But those are the numbers for the managed agricultural bee population. I am not sure if there is a population of wild (or would it be feral?) European honey bees in the United States and elsewhere, and if so how they are doing, but many other wild native North American bees have been declining to near extinction levels.

Monitoring wild bee population levels obviously is not as straightforward …

I’m hoping that what I am seeing is just a local thing, related to both our local forest preserve area having flooded much of the spring (with likely some local impact on local bee habitat … it definitely pushed the deer into our neighborhoods more than usual … and aggressive things they’ve been too!) and the current cooler than typical days just as my Bee Balm is blooming. But I do wonder if others are also not seeing what I am not seeing.

If it’s any comfort, I went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens yesterday, and I saw plenty of bees there among the flowers. They do keep hives though.

But hey, there’s a nesting pair of bald eagles there now. They used to be endangered too.

What are rain/drought conditions like where you live? If it’s dry, the bees may like a water source placed in your yard as an additional enticement.

Two Many Cats, yes that is reassuring.

Sunny Daze, I am near west of Chicago. Two blocks away from a river and a forest preserves area. Had a very wet June followed by some hot days, some cooler ones, but on average a pretty average July both for temperature and rain. Relatively mild the last few days. The observation is contrasting within the same yard with same water sources such as they are between years.

I did notice some more very tiny bee species buzzing about them today …

I can’t say that I’ve noticed any bee shortages, on bee balm or anything else, though mostly I’m seeing bumblebees. I’ll know if honeybees are diminished when the African basil starts blooming (it’s a magnet for bees and flying pollinators of various kinds).

I did hear a loud buzzing while putting in some plants in the garden this morning - looked up to spot a hummingbird hovering a few feet away, checking out the visitor. :slight_smile: