This spray of Canada goldenrod Solidago canadensis is part of a big stand of it way in the back part of the yard, and was alive with honeybees Apis mellifera when I took this shot.
Canada goldenrod is the most common and most weedy of the many kinds of goldenrod that occur in our area. It's a classic weed, appearing after a place has been disturbed--by fire, flood, bulldozer etc.--and enjoying the full sun and bare soil. It survives out in the open until the open space becomes enclosed by the shade of shrubs and trees. It may help to delay this succession by putting chemicals in the soil that impede the growth of maples and other plants. Each goldenrod plant has hundreds of flowers attracting insect pollinators as varied as flies, beetles, bees, wasps, butterflies, and moths. The seeds are fed upon by goldfinches and other birds. Goldenrod suffers from the misconception that it is a major cause of allergies--probably a confusion resulting from other, less conspicuous plants that bloom at the same time, such as ragweed.
Honeybees are semi-domestic animals, probably native to India or the Mediterranean, brought to virtually everywhere on Earth by humans. Our species provides artificial nesting places and locates them near crops that need pollinating. These bees are generalists, able to feed on and pollinate thousands of species of plants, most of which are completely alien to them. There are mobile honeybee colonies, dozens of hives put on trucks which drive through the night to service various agricultural fields. In recent years these hives have suffered mysterious losses, likely a combination of various stresses and the effects of pesticides.
I've found that one common perception that has developed from the science journalism about this issue is that "the bees" are disappearing. Why, then, are we being stung by yellowjackets, etc.? It's an educational opportunity.
This is a bee-mimicking fly (anyone know what kind?) on another goldenrod blossom nearby.
Canada goldenrod appeared earlier as 365 urban species #223. In the same entry I wrote about ragweed.
The honeybee was 365 Urban species #194.