Here and there the leaves of the walnut trees on our property are starting to change color and drop to the ground. Walking around the yard, I have noticed many goldenrod soldier beetles (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus).
They are relatively common in our area. I have seen these little insects on the various rudbeckia we have planted in and along the edge of the yard. I have also seen them on the blossoms of the fancy pumpkins in the garden. Their range is much of North America, but I really do not recall seeing them in the Duluth area – then again, I am sure I was not privy to most of the insects at the old place.
These little goldenrod soldier beetles are aptly named as they show up on the scene right around when goldenrods – the flower – are in full bloom. For about a week and a half, the ditches and roadsides near the house have been full to the brim with blooming goldenrod. Driving down into Mower County, over the weekend – to check the other hives – between the branching sunflowers and the goldenrods, much of the ditch-space and spots here and there around transmission poles were awash with yellow.
Last week, in the evening, it was still hot outside and there was a breeze coming from the east. Generally, the winds have a more westerly origination; from over the Mississippi River, over Pig’s Eye Lake, up the little bluff, across highway 61, toward the the house, and beyond – pressing its way up the hill at the rear of the property. Instead, the breeze was pushing down that hill.
The air – going from the patio at the back of the house toward the rear of our lot – smelled sweet and musky. I was surprised the neighbors did not mention the peculiar smell. It was, however, a ver familiar smell to us: goldenrod nectar being transformed into goldenrod honey.
Several years ago, when we had the first two hives at the house in Proctor, the physician who was my beekeeping mentor told me that I would know when the bees were working the goldenrod – your hives would stink like gym socks.
I like to think of it as being a rugged smelling creation. Something that Charles Bronson would have put in his tea.
So, if there is one thing that symbolizes late summer bees – or more precisely, the start of fall, it is goldenrod and the musky scent of hives with its nectar.
Below – nothing to do with goldenrod, it is just a few seconds of bees coming and going from their hives. Listen to the sound of the cicadas.