How did we get here so quickly ? It seems like only a short time ago we were shivering in January and suddenly it is the longest day of the year.
In the garden, the early summer lupins and irises are going over. The day lilies and tall campanulas are close to opening. Most of the queen bumblebees are now nest bound, while their workers do all the foraging for nectar and pollen.
Common carder bee on comfrey
Also joining in with Cee’s black and while photo challenge – any animal.
Our late spring has jumped to mid summer and we seem to have missed a whole month, as temperatures soar to 24 degrees – not really typical for the west of Ireland, where we’d be happy with temperatures in the high teens. Everyone is afraid to complain about the heat in case the rain comes back! We Irish have a funny relationship with the weather.
Still, my June garden is blooming. Lupins are proving very popular with the bees and other, perhaps not so welcome, creatures! Though with the heat the flowers seem to be going over quickly.
The blue irises have put on a great show – much better than last year. And seem popular with hoverflies and the larger bumblebees like Garden Bumbles.
My favourite areas are the new wildflower meadow and also around the pond, where ragged robin adds it’s glorious pink. Butterflies enjoy the blooms, while hoverflies, are keen on the ox-eyed daisies.
Ragged robin by pond
Ragged robin by pond
Foxgloves, aquilegia and geraniums are dotted elsewhere. Certainly June adds colour!
We only occasionally get these little heath bumblebees in our garden. As the name suggests they are more common in upland areas, particularly bogs and heaths but they are recorded in gardens too. I took these photos on the shores of Lough Cullin here in County Mayo, last weekend.
Bombus jonellus Queen
There was a couple of queens and one very small worker, who practically dissappeared into the flowers as it searched for pollen and nectar.
Bombus jonellus worker
Heath bumblebees are one of the smallest of Ireland’s white tailed bumbles and they have three yellow brands making them look quite yellow.
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Today, Sunday 20th May, is World Bee Day. It is a day to celebrate our wonderful bees, but it is also a day to reflect on how bee populations continue to decline.
Carder bumblebee on apple blossom
Bees recorded in the 2017 National Bee Monitoring Scheme showed their lowest numbers since 2012. A total population loss of just over 14% has been recorded between 2012-2017.
There are things we can all do to help bees. Here is just a few examples:
- Join a bee monitoring scheme. These citizen science programmes are a great way to learn more about bees yourself, but also contribute important information about the health of bee populations.
- Plants some flowers! Ideally pollinator-friendly flowers. For example, cottage garden varieties (e.g. delphiniums), nasturtiums, herbs and heathers. It is also important to have flowers from early spring to the first frost to provide food throughout the season.
- Don’t be too tidy. Leave areas of tall vegetation for nesting bumblebees, leave vegetables (particularly overwintering brassicas to flower) allow dandelions to flower before mowing lawns.
- And finally enjoy bees!
Bumblebee drone sharing Allium
White tailed Bumblebee
Early bumblebee on cranesbill
White tailed bumblebee, Bombus Lucorum
For more information check out the following pollinator website.
This month’s Monthly Meet-up Photo Challenge hosted by Wild Daffodil asks us to consider flower as our theme. You may have already noticed that I am a fan of spring flowers. And the humble dandelion is no exception. In fact, you may have noticed that the same flower already featured in last month’s challenge “yellow“.
Well since then, the dandelions around us have really come into their own. They adorn my “lawn”, the road verges and many fields. They are like a milky way of yellow and green. Often seen only as a “weed”, the dandelion has so much to offer. You can make salad from the young leaves, wine from it flowers, and a coffee substitute from its roots.
As some of you will have heard me say before, dandelions are also great for bees, butterflies and hoverflies. These pollinators were all using the flowers when I completed my bee and butterfly transect last Saturday. Pollinators can collect both pollen and nectar from the flowers.
Hoverfly on dandelion
Green veined white butterfly and hoverfly on dandelion
If you let your dandelions go to seed, you will also provide a valued food source for birds such as chaffinches, bullfinches and goldfinch.
Bullfinch eating dandelion seeds (not best photo as taken from inside)
Following on from my bumblebee post yesterday, here is an important pubic consultation on an EU Pollinator Initiative. The consultation is open to anyone living in Europe, you don’t have to be an expert. If you have any interest in pollinators I urge you to fill out the questionnaire. It only takes about ten minutes, and you have till the 5th of April to complete.
The survey can be accessed by clicking here.
And more information bout the initiative can be found here.
This week’s photo challenge is Favourite Place. There are too many of them. In County Mayo alone I could list half a dozen. So I decided to stay close to home – my own garden. I would happily spend all day pottering, planting, weeding. Here are some glimpses of the garden in it’s glory – summer time. A nice reminder of things to look forward to on a cold wet March day.
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