aware - July 2019
you have decided to throw a lifeline to our endangered bumblebees, the question
is “What is the best plan for my bit of land?”
The two major approaches are to create either a wildflower meadow, or a
There are more and more programmes
about growing flowers for bees and it can be confusing but there are pros and
cons to consider. A meadow provides
nectar and pollen from May onwards. In
its first year, food is not available before June but blooms appear a month
earlier thereafter with an established meadow producing 20 times more pollen and
6 times more nectar than in the first year.
Peak forage production is in August but it declines rapidly in September.
For most of the year our fields and hedgerows have nothing to offer
pollinators. During the Summer, the
“Meadow” approach is valuable even if your garden is small because this is
when large numbers of pollinators are collecting food for their growing broods.
The “Buffet” approach aims to
offer a range of flowers throughout the year, particularly in the cooler months
when natural resources are low but when the future of bumblebee colonies relies
on the survival of individual queens as they prepare for hibernation or when
they emerge to found new families in Spring.
To achieve this, gardeners can grow a selection of bulbs, shrubs, annuals
and perennials that are known to be excellent sources of pollen and nectar for
extended periods. Choice of plants
is easy these days because there are many helpful lists available (such as at www.bumblebeeconservation.org.uk)
and the “Buffet” makes it easy for bees to concentrate their collecting in a
single area throughout the year. Bumblebee
queens need to be very well fed and healthy in order to survive the colder
months. Because of global warming,
some individuals do not hibernate, bumblebees evolved in the cool Himalayas, and
may be unable to find any food in Winter.
the end of the Summer, the queen that founded the colony (her family) for the
year, dies and so do all her daughter workers.
Her sons also die once they have mated.
The only survivors are the new princesses who have to know how to survive
on their own. Once they have mated,
they carry the future generations in their bodies.
They need our help.
Bumbledore (July 2019) on email@example.com
field poppy supplies twice as much pollen as any other wild flower species but
it is the common ragwort that is the best source of nectar.