Bee Trees

General discussions of forests and trees that do not focus on a specific species or specific location.

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Bee Trees

Post by DougBidlack » Sun Aug 11, 2019 6:31 pm

This morning when I was walking around my house I heard a buzzing sound coming from the border of the property where it is fairly brushy at the moment. It turns out that there were an amazing number of honey bees at the flowering Winged Sumacs (Rhus copallinum). I think there were a greater concentration of honey bees at these flowers than I have ever seen at any flowering tree before. Here is a picture of one of the males that has particularly large terminal panicles.
Here is a winged sumac with smaller panicles but still plenty of bees.
Here is a female Winged Sumac for comparison.
I had never heard of Winged Sumacs, or any other species of sumac for that matter, as being good bee trees so this was a bit of a surprise for me.

Woody plants native to the eastern US around the house that have been very attractive to pollinators (especially wasps, butterflies and clearwing moths) in the past include bottlebrush buckeyes and summersweet. I was wondering what other people consider to be good trees and shrubs for pollinators.

Basswood is the species I think of first as a well known native bee tree. The European species are also well known as being very attractive to bees. Oddly, there are occasional die-offs of bumble bees around various species of lindens. The reason seems to still be largely unknown but it tends to occur during really dry years in both Europe and North America. I asked around at the Arnold Arboretum a few years ago if they knew of any trees that occasionally had dead bumble bees underneath during the flowering period. I was told that the only tree that came to mind was Japanese pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum). Since then I've also noticed dead bumble bees under Japanese pagoda trees. Here are a couple pictures of this species in flower at the Arnold Arboretum.

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