Our wild pollinators are in decline. Bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies and butterflies all need our help. By providing food and shelter we can make our gardens havens for these wonderful creatures. In return they will pollinate our crops, improve our yields and give us valuable productive seeds.
- Provide a range of flowering plants through the growing season
- Don’t forget vegetables can also provide an important source of pollen and nectar (e.g. runner beans and brassicas let go to flower)
- Leave a small (or big) wild area in your garden where the grass it let grow long and there are of piles of stones or a woodpile
In spring, one of the most common bumblebee species in our garden are Bombus pascuorum, the Common Carder bee. These are quite small ginger coloured bees. They sometimes have black hairs on their abdomen but no real stripes as we see on many of our other bees. In our garden, these bees seem to really like the flowers of any of the brassicas that I let go to flower. They also like the comfrey flowers. We have mainly the Common comfrey (Symphytum officinal). I have also seen them feeding on apple blossom and sage as in the picture below.
A number of bees feed on the runner bean flowers including the Garden bumblebee (Bombus hortorum). This bee has a long, ‘horse-like’ face compared to other bees.
Last year we had a leaf cutter bee in our garden. These bees are solitary bees. The name comes from the practice of cutting circles of leaves which they use to line their nests. The species we had was identified as Megachile visicolor and my husband was not impressed with the damage it caused to one of his young lime trees. This bee carrys the pollen on the hairs of her belly making it look yellow. She will make a nest in a cavity, creating individual cells with the circles of leaves she cuts. In each cell, she lays an egg and leaves a supply of pollen before closing it off with another leaf circle.
© Murtaghs Meadow