Bees & The Sweetness of October

Coneflower Bee1

Bees do have a smell, you know, and if they don’t they should, for their feet are dusted with spices from a million flowers.” ― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

October is the month that always seems to pass too quickly for us. In our part of the Ohio River Valley, the mornings have only the slightest chill, the days are usually sunny and warm but not hot. And the skies are a shade of blue that can break your heart. It’s a beautiful month.

In the early mornings, the bees are moving slowly, the chilly air cooling their ardor a bit. But they soon take full advantage of the afternoon sun, gathering all the nectar they can before Jack Frost comes along and does what he does.

We’ve had a few warmer days lately (almost summer-like) and a few people like to say it’s “Indian Summer” but my Granny always said the real Indian Summer comes after a hard frost and at least a few days of a shivering cold. She would scoff at the idea (at least in our neck of the woods) of an Indian Summer in October. And skeptical of any before Thanksgiving.

I like those old “Farmer’s Almanac” kind of terms like Indian Summer and Blackberry Winter. Blackberry Winter is a cold snap that comes in the spring after a spell of warm weather. It’s nipped more than a few of our seedlings we impatiently stuck in the ground in a fit of spring fever. Spring affects our judgement, what can we say.

But spring is a long way away. And we’ve the whole winter to get through.

So stay busy, little bees. Frosty November will be upon us soon enough.

Have you had your first frost yet? Is your garden put to bed and sleeping? And for our friends in the southern hemisphere, happy spring! We’re living vicariously through you!

About Benjamin

Gardening, Raising a Family, Hobby Photography, Reading & Philoso-phizing...not necessarily in that order.
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46 Responses to Bees & The Sweetness of October

  1. Amy Bogard says:

    Such a sense of beauty and the magic of things in your posts Ben. Thank you for sharing them!

  2. solarbeez says:

    Two bees on one flower…Nice going.
    We have been trench composting crab shell and kitchen scraps, then planting Alsike clover as a cover crop. The rain has started so the bees will be stuck inside until the sun pops back out. Our winters are relatively mild compared to yours. The bees will be able to fly between rain/wind storms. We rarely get snow unlike the mountains of snow that you get, so I hope your bees get plenty of time to prepare for winter.

    • Benjamin says:

      Thanks! Composting crab shells sounds great…What a fine soil amendment! I think our bees will have a few more weeks ’til they have to batten down the hatches. Cheers, Ben

  3. Julie says:

    That shade of blue that breaks your heart, is so apt, what a wonderful phrase. I had not heard of a Blackberry winter before, it sounds more romantic than a few choice swear words having planted to early. No frosts here yet, we are enjoying the remnants of an Indian Summer!

  4. dandyknife says:

    It was minus 2 (about 28 American) here two or three days ago — everyone’s roof shingles sparkled in the dawn sun — but the effects of a coming tropical storm have got Saint John nearly at room temperature for the next couple of days. Today’s task: Paint the picket fence! The flower beds can wait.

    • Benjamin says:

      Ah, the wild fluctuations of temps this time of year. One hardly knows how many layers to wear when leaving the house 😉 Good luck with the fence painting! Cheers, Ben

  5. KerryCan says:

    You create lovely images with your words and the Bradbury quote is perfect! In upstate New York, it was in the 20s the night before last but in the 70s yesterday! Beautiful weather–all the more so because we know it won’t last.

    • Benjamin says:

      Thank you so much! And I agree about the beautiful days being made more so by their ephemeral quality…And the older I get the more I appreciate ’em 😉 Cheers, Ben

  6. Grower says:

    I’ve never heard of blackberry winter, but have probably been through a few or quite a few. It’s been moderately cool, wet right now, so I’m feeling the urge to clean up and put the garden and all the summer things away.

    • Benjamin says:

      My Grandma also called it Dogwood Winter and Redbud Winter…I think because it usually comes around the time they’re in bloom. Has a nice ring to it anyway 😉 I’m determined to rub down all of our wooden gardening tool handles with Linseed oil this year before putting them away…that’s a task i always seem to let slip. Cheers, Ben

  7. I’ve certainly heard of Indian Summer but Blackberry Winter was a new one. We have had several frosts and half of my garden is put to bed with the rest under hoops to see if I can get a few more weeks out of my tomatoes. 🙂

    • Benjamin says:

      Good luck with the tomatoes! We picked our last ones this week (except for a couple of puny green one which may end up sliced, covered in cornmeal and fried.) My Grandma also called it Redbud Winter and Dogwood Winter…I love the romance of those titles…might be a good name for a book! 😉

  8. Jim says:

    No frost yet in central Indiana. A dry, beautiful September yielded to damp, chilly October. I’m still looking for those lovely October days you describe so well. 🙂

  9. Tina says:

    That photo is so lovely. I’m sure your bees will stay busy–they know what’s coming. Enjoy your beautiful October as your season turns.

  10. Wonderful post! Spring has sprung for us, so nice yo stand back and switch the garden grow. Take care

  11. Chloris says:

    Lovely photo and Bradbury quote. I have never heard of a blackberry winter but the saying goes that you can’ t eat blackberries after there has been a frost because the devil spits on them. No chance of spitting devils at the moment, we are having such warm, sunny days here, quite unlike October. It is lovely and there are so many summer flowers still blooming.

    • Benjamin says:

      Thanks so much! I’ve heard that about blackberries after a frost as well, although they’re usually long gone before the frost arrives here. I’m glad to hear your October is lovely. All days are a gift, but some are gift-ier than others 😉

  12. Love the quote and photo! Blackberry winter..never heard that before!

  13. Helen says:

    No real frost for us yet – probably another couple of weeks before that happens. Lots of rain instead – just a pity it’s not warmer (mid teens °C, which I guess is somewhere in the 60s F), then the garden would be booming.

    Interesting as always to see how it is in other parts of the world. Hope your pleasant start to autumn lasts as long as possible.

  14. Love the quote too. I read somewhere once someone commenting that bees keen eye for beautiful things as both humans and bees are attracted to the beauty of flowers. Ben, I want to send that zucchini flower print your way (Sorry it has taken so long, my summer and fall has been beyond busy..) but I need your email address to get your mailing address! Please send me a line at



  15. Indian Summer and Blackberry Winter, Have heard both terms in Tennessee, I think. The gardening season is just starting in South Florida – first real cold front due in tomorrow with a forecasted high of 82.
    Love the Ray Bradbury..

  16. pbmgarden says:

    Your opening paragraph captures this time of year so well. Love to see the sleeping bees on the flowers in early morning. No frost here yet but it usually comes during the time of the state fair, opening tomorrow. I hope the frost waits a bit longer though. This afternoon is 69F and lovely.

  17. I like the idea of blackberry winter, though to me it sounds like a winter where you stay inside and eat muffins with blackberry jam.

  18. bittster says:

    It is a beautiful month isn’t it. It’s going fast though and I’m already looking forward to spring even though no frost here yet….. Sunday though, things look cold for Sunday.

  19. On sunny days, the bees are still buzzing around the chives and sage. Beets are supposed to be even sweeter after the first frost, and the asparagus is still storing up energy in its ferny fronds. Soon it will be time to say goodbye to the garden for the year.

    • Benjamin says:

      Goodbye to this year’s garden and hello to plans for next year’s! 😉 I love seeing the asparagus fronds in the fall and imagining how sweet it will taste after a long winter. Cheers, Ben

  20. Andjxx says:

    Where we are in Canberra, Australia we always have a blackberry winter – every year in October when you are just starting to think that it is warming up and pack away the jacket and blankets – bam – there is a frost and a week of freezing temperatures. Thankfully we are past the worst of it now.

  21. You’re so right. October is that month that passes way too quickly. It and September.

  22. Christina says:

    Yes, October passes too quickly, one of the most pleasant months, often more reliable than September. No the garden is certainly not sleeping yet and we don’t usually have a frost until January.

  23. We have *not* had our first frost yet & it feels a bit weird. I’ve only been back on the East Coast for a couple of years but it seems as if each year the frost has gotten later and later. On the other hand, we’re turning on the heat later, too. So there’s upside!

    • Benjamin says:

      It seems the frost is coming later and later to me, too. And I agree about the heat…We’re loking forward to at least one month of a lower energy bill 😉

  24. Pingback: Bees & the Future of It All | NestOfSquirrels

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