Bees, brassicas and comfrey

Those of you that are regular readers will know I have a soft spot for bees and pollinators in general. Today, with a bit of sunshine, and the bees seemed to be out in force. Over the last week I have seen the first of the workers bumblebees though the queens have been around since mid March. At this time of year there is not a lot flowering in my garden (something I am trying to address), so I always leave some brassicas to flower. The bees don’t appear to have any preference. There is purple sprouting broccoli, brussel sprouts and three types of kale all flowering at the moment.

Bumblebee and brassica

Bumblebee and brassica

Today I counted four different bumblebee species feeding on the flowers, and both queens and workers. Usually the workers are considerably smaller.

White tailed bumblebee, Bombus Lucorum

White tailed bumblebee, Bombus Lucorum

Common Carder Bee, Bombus pascurum

Common Carder Bee, Bombus pascurum

There were also four different hoverflies and a single species of solitary bee. Some of the pollinators were also feeding on the comfrey flowers.

Hoverfly, Rhingia campestris

Hoverfly, Rhingia campestris

Dronefly

Dronefly

Then, while in the greenhouse, I noticed an unusual bee. It had a white tail but only one yellow band. I went looking for my identification guide and I am pretty sure it is a Forest Cuckoo bumblebee.

Forest Cuckoo bee, Bombus sylvestris

Forest Cuckoo bee, Bombus sylvestris

Not the best photo I am afraid. The cuckoo bumblebee, as its name suggests, lays its eggs in another bees nest and does nothing else to rear their own young. The forest cuckoo’s host is the Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) which also occur in our garden.

 

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24 thoughts on “Bees, brassicas and comfrey

    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      Yes mason bees belong to the Solitary bees. I’m still getting to grips with identifying them!

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  1. Julie

    I have been reading about Cuckoo Bumblebees this week on the Bumblebee Conservation site and trying to decide if I have photographed one but I’m still not sure. You’ve taken some really lovely photographs, your flowering brassicas are very pretty too!

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    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      I went on a bee identification workshop – it was a great help. I was determined to get good photo today but took a while – the workers in particular don’t hang around for photographers!

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  2. gaiainaction

    I found that very interesting, thank you. Nice to see that you have a variety of bees.
    My Borage does attract some bees besides bumblebees for which I am very happy indeed.

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  3. lapetitemaisonbijoux

    We have a large bed of comfrey (we use the leaves to make a liquid feed), and it’s one of the noisiest places in the garden, always a-buzz with many bees.

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    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      Personally I think comfrey is a plant every gardener should have – great to hear yours is buzzing too:)

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  4. Melissa Shaw-Smith

    Forest Cuckoo–what a wonderful name. I had never heard of bees that acted like cuckoos. Thanks for sharing that info. I know the bee may not be very clear in the last photo, but what a gorgeous image of comfrey. Lucky bees!

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    1. Murtagh's Meadow Post author

      There is a Gypsy cuckoo bee too! Haven’t seen that one yet though! And lucky me for having the bees – I do love watching them!

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  5. susurrus

    I actually love the photo of the cuckoo bumblebee (what a great name, and I love the idea of a bee identification workshop!) – the light on the coiled comfrey flower is wonderful.

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  6. Robbie

    I have been hearing the buzzing as I work out there + it is inspiring. I added a bunch of new spring bulbs and perennials last fall for spring food. I have noticed more diversity in my garden with the bees over the past few years. I let all my tatsoi flower so the bees had something in between bloom times of various food sources. I am with you on trying to provide! I enjoyed all your photos of those hard to capture buzzers. I take dozens of pics of them before I get the perfect photo-often many are a bit blurry-LOL-they just dart right when you are about to press the button!
    I totally understand your fascination for I have several books that I keep close at hand to identify. I have been noticing some new bees, ones that I have never seen before-FUN!

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  7. Jane

    What a wonderful blog. So, it’s dandelions & willow for the early feeders, comfrey & borage for later, and a myriad more but a good start for the amateur here. We have innumerable bees on the cotoneaster for its short blossoming time. Hopeless at identifying them but they were small to me – any ideas, Karina. Beautiful pictures. A bee identification course for the experts, I think. Need a beginner’s one here.

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  8. Pingback: Butterflies in peril – what you can do | Wild Pollinator Gardens

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