Tag Archives: bumblebees

Spring Equinox

Wishing everyone a lovely Spring Equinox.

I hope more spring like temperatures will follow. There is the odd bumblebee flying through the garden, but things really need to warm up a bit for them. There is no point planting any seeds outside as night time temperatures are still falling below freezing,  though I am trying some salad crop in the greenhouse. Fingers crossed they will grow!




Bumble bees

This week’s weekly photo challenge is Variations on a theme. So I felt it was a perfect excuse to show some bumblebee photos. As many of you will know I have a soft spot for this amazing creatures. The queen’s are currently hibernating and it will be another six weeks before we see them (usually around Saint Patrick’s Day – 17th March – here in the west of Ireland).

When the queens emerge from their winter sleep they need to find food. Early spring flowers and shrubs like dandelions, willow catkins, crocuses and flowering brassicas are good source of pollen for them. A simple way to help bees in your garden is to allow dandelions to bloom before you start cutting the lawn.

The gallery above shows a variety of queens, workers and drones from a number of different bumblebee species.



Structure of flowers and bees

For bees the structure of flowers is important. The reason being (no pun intended) that different bee species have different tongue lengths.

So for short tongued bees like White tailed bumblebees, simple flowers are often best. In my garden these bees feed on the small oregano flowers, and bramble and I have even seen them feeding on buttercups.

In contrast, Garden Bumblebees have the longest tongues. So they visit plants like runner beans and foxgloves.

Common carder bees lie somewhere between the two and so you will see them feeding on many different flowers – today I even saw one trying to get at a runner bean flower.

Of course bees are clever and some will “rob” nectar. They do this by drilling little holes in the side of the flowers, to get at the nectar (without pollinating the plant!).  I have seen them do this with comfrey flowers. Other bees (and different species too) will come along and use the holes too!







A week in celebration of pollinators?

In the United States, they are celebrating Pollinator Week (19-25th June). In Britain, they have a Pollinator Awareness Week which runs in July. Isn’t it time we in Ireland did something similar? After all pollinators are in decline worldwide and we can all do our bit to help pollinators in our local areas.

So this week I hope to post a few extra pollinator posts to start an “Irish Pollinator Week” of sorts. I will post the posts here and on a blog I share with a friend, Wild Pollinator Gardens.

And I ask each of you, where ever you are in the world, to think about posting at least one pollinator post or photo over this next week.

Pollinator week

June garden update – flowers

Bees, as many of you know, are one of my favourite garden visitors, so providing them with food is important to me. Bumbles are currently busy feeding on comfrey, sage, lupins, foxgloves and delphiniums. The early bumblebees seem to really like the comfrey, while the carder bees are concentrating on the sage. While tailed bees I have seen on buttercup and lupin, while the big garden bumblebee queens that are still around are going for the foxgloves as well as comfrey. It just shows that having a variety of flowers in your garden is important if you want your help a range of bees.

One lovely new sighting for the garden was a humming bird hawk moth, feeding on sage flowers. This is an amazing day flying moth that looks, and acts like a humming bird. We hadn’t seen one since the time we lived in the UK, so great addition to our garden list. if you want to see what it looks out check out this link.

Humming bird hawk moth

Humming bird hawk moth – in a blur!

Vegetable garden update to follow soon.