Last week, a lazy afternoon in our Welsh garden turned into a bee observation exercise – I’d been lying on my sun lounger with a few magazines (while Chris was busy pruning his wall trained pyracantha) and was struck by the low hum of bees harmonising with the river flowing through. Close inspection revealed many different species; bumble bees, honey bees and solitary bees.
I thought I’d do a bit of research and try to identify a few, a task which at the outset I expected to be simple, but in reality proved difficult, particularly with my middle aged eyesight!
However, there is some great on line information, starting with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust – found at www.bumblebeeconservation.org The pages on this website provide a wealth of information, including an identification section. These, I think, are buff-tailed bumblebees – Bombus terrestris, and they seem particularly partial to the globe thistle (echinops rito) that grows prolifically in this garden.
It would be impossible to avoid the plethora of publications related to concerns about the decline of the bee population and the long term implications of this problem. I was therefore really pleased to find, as I perused the internet, that there are plenty of bee friendly plants in both our gardens – due to luck rather than planning or judgement. Whilst researching, I found that there are many websites providing plentiful advice aimed at encouraging suitable planting . On the Bumblebee Conservation Trust site, there is also a handy tool you can use to assess your garden for bee friendliness.
This little beauty was the only one of its type I spotted – I think it’s the common carder bumble bee Bombus pascuorum.
I have to say, much as I enjoy stealing a few moments to just sit relaxing with a few magazines, the hour I spent observing and researching these essential little creatures whose survival is causing so much concern was time well spent. We should all do our bit and get planting…