I love how the flowers of spring process across the stage of our gardens in a most predictable order, regardless of how long or short, hard or clement the season, actors in their own particular production. The joyous harbingers of the new season, the snowdrops are in full flower, although just beginning to fade in some places, and as they do so, they are joined by the crocus and the earliest of the daffodils. Blue and purple crocus seem to do best in my garden-there are clumps establishing themselves under the hedge and although I have a few yellow ones, the birds seem to attack those.
Sunday was a lovely day here, warm enough to have lunch outside where I was joined by several Queen bees foraging for nectar and pollen, and a multitude of seven spot ladybirds. The early crocuses are an excellent food source for bees and I plant more each year, often in pots close to the house, especially to help these newly emerged Queens to feed themselves and prepare for the next generation. I like crocuses too!
Here’s two of my girls. The top one is a Tree bumblebee, Bombus hypnorum with the very distinctive ginger thorax and white tail. No other bee in the UK is marked like this and the success of their spread since the first individuals arrived in 2001 continues. Unlike many other insect species new to the British Isles, it is thought unlikely that this one will have any negative impact on native species.
The bottom one is a Bombus terrestris, the buff tailed bee. The queens can be more than two cms long-quite chunky! They make nests underground, hence their other common name, the Earth bumble bee, whereas the tree bumblebees prefer more aerial habitats including bird boxes. Both of them are resting on the warm south walls and window frames of my house, enjoying the sunshine.