When goldenrod is in bloom, it is one of the most easily recognized plants of fall. We often find large stands of the bright yellow flowers at the edge of woodlots, fields and along roadsides. Goldenrod is one of the most prolific of the bee plants. It produces large volumes of nectar, making it the source of much of the honey that the bees use to overwinter. Goldenrod is a member of the family of important bee plants, the composites. The composite, or sunflower, family is known for producing large amounts of nectar and pollen. The composite family includes dandelion, coneflower, black-eyed Susans, asters, chicory, and thistles. Goldenrod’s large heads of clusters of tiny yellow flower stand four to five feet above the ground. On sunny fall days, the open flowers of goldenrod will attract great numbers of honey bees as well as numerous other insects. It is not uncommon to find honey bees sharing goldenrod with solitary bees, flies, moths, butterflies, and other insects. If you click on today’s picture, you can see a honey bee sharing goldenrod flowers with soldier beetles. A handy internet tool for helping to identify insects can be found at: http://bugguide.net/.
Most fall honeys have a more robust flavor than summer honeys. Goldenrod honey is bright yellow in color. It has the fragrance of wildflowers and a pleasant taste. A strong nectar flow from goldenrod often determines the survival of honey bees over the winter. Oh, by the way, goldenrod is not responsible for hay fever in the fall. The offending plant is usually common ragweed, which blooms at the same time. The beautiful goldenrod plant is being cultivated as a garden flower. Goldenrod is a friend of honey bees and beekeepers.