So this week Tina’ let us choose our own theme. I am, perhaps unsurprisingly, going for some glorious bees to remind us of last summer and to help us look forward to next year. They are mostly bumblebees but I had to include the beautiful solitary mining bee too.
As Ann-Christine says there are so many stories to capture. So where does one start?
Bees tell us so many stories. They tell us how important flowers are. They tell us that we are all connected in life. They tell us we should forage near home when looking for food. They tell us enjoy life, at least while the sun is shining. Perhaps we need to listen to them more closely.
Without flower meadows there will be no bees, without bees there will be no flowers meadows. It is another story. A short one.
This rose grews in our hedge……………..
Along with native honeysuckle which is flowering really well this year and being enjoyed by the bees.
I generally prefer pink foxgloves but I do like the markings on this white one.
The lavender is also being enjoyed by the bees in this case an early bumblebee male.
And finally this week – a newish arrival – little chick “Dream” with his mum “Miranda”.
One of the best plants for bees is comfrey. It has a long flowering season which provides food throughout the spring and summer.
Blossom, such as apple or cherry blossom, is another great food source.
Herbs (e.g. sage, oregano, thyme) are also great for bees.
Vegetables often rely on bees for pollination, including runner beans, courgettes and many others. Allowing brassicas to flower can also provide food for bees.
Wild native flowers are also important for bees too. So having some in your garden is a great asset.
This week’s lens artist photo challenge is –
Today we were introduced to some beautiful and very old elm trees. Many elms in Ireland were lost to Dutch elm disease but this is one of a few magnificent specimens that survived.
I haven’t yet introduced you to our new arrivals – they are just over a week old now, seven little chicks!
We have borrowed some much from nature including honey bees. All bees were originally wild bees, Apis melifera, but thousands of years ago humans thought it would be a good idea to provide bees with hives so we could steal their honey! This is an interesting article about the history of honey bees.
And finally something blue. Regular readers may remember a few weeks I showed you the Common blue butterfly – I managed to get a photo today of it’s wings open. This is a female not quite as blue as the male, but still very pretty, even if a little weather-worn.
The wildflower meadow is just coming into it’s own. One of my favourites parts of the garden.
I did say in a comment that I would post some of my yellow alliums this week. I just love flowers.
And these alliums are one of my favourites, they remind me of fireworks going off.
And of course I cannot post about my favourite things without including a photo of a bumblebee……………
And growing my own food is another love – broad beans with another bee!
And this year I am loving vetch, because there seems to be so much of it and the bees are loving it too.
Wild bumblebees – as regular readers will know, are one of my favourite subjects. We are now in our second week of rain (and yes I know some of you are looking for it), but how do the bees cope. They just wait for a break in the showers. Not that there were many today.
Some clever bees feed on the flowers in the greenhouse and polytunnel. But yesterday when I was in there during a heavy down pour I noticed the buzzing stopped. I couldn’t see the bees so think they’d gone back to their nests. Outside they wait for the brief glimpses of sun. The lupins are popular with many of the bees (here just white tailed).
While the larger Garden bumblebees seem to like the delphiniums, even those that have fallen over in the wind and rain.
The garden bumblebees also use the blue iris.
I have only seen the carder bee on the lavender (and some butterflies too). Both the carders and garden bumbles bees will still fly in light rain, I suppose they have to, otherwise they will starve. It is important to have lots of variety of flowers in your garden, that way you will attract lots of different bees, and other pollinators.
Inspired by Lens Artist Photo Challenge #48 – Wild
1. Comprey is always a great bee plant, and it just keeps on flowering the whole season through which is a huge benefit for pollinators.
2. I always let my over-wintered kale flower as it is another valuable food source, not just for carder bumbles but also early bumblebees and white tailed bumblebees too.
3. Wasps are predators of other insects but queen wasps emerging from hibernation seem to love my blackcurrant bushes. Each spring I see them feeding on the flowers, I suspect gathering nectar from the flowers.
4. The autumn olive is proving really popular with the bees too. Yesterday I counted four different types of bees feeding on it as well as some small hoverflies.
5; Another carder (they are easier to photograph than other bees!) on the Indian pea tree.
6. And finally a flower without a bee to complete my Six on Saturday .
It is unnaturally warm. Some parts of Ireland it was 17 degrees Celsius today, here in the west only 15, a temperature we would be happy with in May.
The mild weather has brought out the bumblebees. Queen bumblebees hibernate over the winter. In usual years we would see the first queens emerge in mid-March.
The first bees were spotted by my children on Sunday, and over the last couple of days we have seen some more. This was the first one I managed to get close up to photograph.
The spring flowering heather is a new addition to the garden planted to provide early food for the queens. They need both nectar and pollen after there long winter sleep. Heather, crocus , hellebore, dandelion and willow are all good early food sources.
With Climate Change resulting in much less predictable weather patterns, bumblebees are vulnerable. If the weather turns cold again the queens can only survive a couple of days without food.