I took this photo last September. At the time, this newly emerged queen buff tailed bumblebee was building up her fat stores, before hibernating for the winter. In the next couple of weeks, against the odds of all an Irish winter can throw at them, queen bumbles will start emerging from their winter hibernation. When they emerge, it is vital that they find sources of pollen and nectar to restore what they have lost over the winter and to allow them to start building a new nest and laying eggs. In this way, they start the whole bumblebee life cycle all over again.
What can you do to help? Ensure a plentiful supply of nectar and pollen rich plants in your garden. Good early plants include crocuses, snowdrops, willows (female – ie with catkins), and fruit tree blossoms. If you have a lawn allow dandelions to flower before cutting.
Start thinking about what you can plant for the summer. Most herbs are great for bees. Many traditional cottage garden type flowers are also good like delphiniums, bellflowers, lupnis, foxgloves and aquilegia. Annuals like nasturtiums, snapdragon and poppies are all worth growing too.