My neighbour doesn’t have an ox

My neighbour does not have an ox that I covet but he does have a colony of Ivy bees (Colletes hederae) in front of these bushes.

He was concerned that our bees were coming out of the soil in his garden.  I had a good idea that it was a colony of Ivy bees and went round to confirm, taking my camera with me.  The colony had just started to appear with lots of males flying around frantically searching for females to mate with.  From even a short distance away they look very similar to honey bees and you have to look closely to see their banded abdomen.

I must admit that I did feel envious of having a colony of Ivy bees in your own garden.  I would appreciate them much more than he does.  His mother was born in the house and she had never noticed them.

This is a female, I think she is beautiful.

The bees, the butterflies and the flowers are all appreciating the sun and temperatures of 26 degrees in the afternoons after the cool, rainy start to September.

I am even mellowing and starting to appreciate the Tithonia rotundifolia – the tall, orange, sunflower-like plant in the above photograph.  It has gone on flowering and producing more heads than I thought it would, however, I cannot say it attracts pollinators more than a lot of the other flowers.

My aster Audrey is the big attraction in the garden at the moment.  This is a Brimstone butterfly ( Gonepteryx rhamni ).

This is a Meadow Brown (Maniola jurtina) and the most common butterfly around here in the garden and outside from early in the year.  The Asters attract a range of butterflies.

They also attract this cuckoo bee (Epeolus cruciger) which lays its eggs in other bees nests taking advantage of food stores left for the host bees young.  Most cuckoo bees are specific to one bee genus which in this case is the Colletes.

I cannot forget the honey bees that come to the Asters as they make the most noise.

After the Asters finish flowering they push out new rooted shoots to expand.  These are very easy to pull up and transplant and I have been able to increase my stock from the original single plant.

I know I am somewhat bee-centered but when you watch the antics of some other animals like this cabbage butterfly you wonder how the species survives.  This poor female butterfly was doing her best to raise her abdomen and co-operate but the male was perhaps not the best choice.

I think he managed eventually to accomplish his duty but it looked as if his big white wings were getting in the way.

Autumn is a busy time in the garden.  The Butternut squash have done well but we have not lifted them yet.

The tomatoes gave a super crop this year and my favourite is still Sungold as it is one of the first to fruit and the last to give up.  However, despite its superior flavour a lot of people prefer the look of small red tomatoes.  We grew a lot of “second hand” tomatoes which were raised by friends and planted in a random fashion that did not allow much comparison apart from saying they all tasted good and I have lots of tomato sauce frozen in the freezer for soups and other dishes in the coming months.

The strawberries keep producing too, although the raspberries are just about finished.

In fact, the vegetable garden has produced much more useful products this year than in other years and so I am inclined to adventure into new territory and I have planted onions for the first time.  Theoretically, I shall be using them as needed and not storing them.  Sarah Raven points out that to grow onions you should keep them free from weeds, we shall see – nothing ventured…

On the subject of food production – we have our first Gojii berries.

We planted the bushes as I read that the bees love the flowers.  Mmn. so far I have not seen the bushes crowded with bees but that might be because the bushes are still small, at least I had the consolation prize of being able to crop the fresh berries.  I had never tasted the fresh berries and being charitable I would call the flavour “disappointing”.

Perhaps a good choice of fruit for people who prefer a pretty colour to a full flavour?



27 thoughts on “My neighbour doesn’t have an ox

  1. Your garden looks really beautiful; the aster is especially glorious. I love the combination of stone walls and seats, and mixed planting – it looks natural and lovely. Good to know how productive the veg and fruit have been – the squash look very inviting. As for tomatoes, our heritage varieties almost totally flopped this year, though the Chadwick cherry variety is making a late comeback. You are very observant of the bees, and the story of your neighbour’s mother and the Ivy bees is priceless!


  2. I love the way we bloggers seem to hit on the same topics at particular times of year. I just wrote about bees on asters, too. I thought your Brimstone butterfly was a Luna Moth at first, until I saw the antennae. Same color, same wing shape. A very enjoyable post, Amelia!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely photos Amelia. Our ivy is also flowering now and attracting pollinators including hornets, but it is too high up to identify the bees. I was intrigued by the title of this post and feel I have missed something…
    I love those asters – mine are just opening too, but most of the insects are going for the sedum and Teucrium still!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, a lot of solitary bees live in burrows in the ground but not all some live in hollows above the ground like in hollow sticks (those are the ones you will see nesting in insect houses.) The time of year gives you an idea of what species the bee might belong to. The Ivy Bee feeds almost exclusively on Ivy nectar and pollen and so you will see it when the Ivy flowers. If the bees come out of the ground in, say, the spring time then they will not be ivy bees. Amelia


  4. I completely agree with you about the ivy bees, they look so beautiful when they emerge and fuss over the ivy flowers. I know of a large nest aggregation on a soil bank in a public park in Torbay and I love watching the males as they fly about in a frenzy waiting for the females.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s