I’ve written lots about bees on this blog, and I guess most people who come here know how important they are to human existence; their overall busy bee-ness and the way they pollinate flowers that produce so much of our fruit, nuts and veg. So to celebrate bees here’s a gallery of snaps taken in the garden and up at the allotment. All, with the exception of the blue cornflower shot taken last month, are from the archive. At the moment the bees are zooming round too fast to have their pictures taken. Anyway more power to their pollinating…
United Nations World Bee Day
To my eye this looks like one inebriated bee, O.D-ed on pollen and caught here, flat-out among the rhododendrons at Rosemoor.
It was a year last May and we were on our way back to Shropshire from Cornwall after a very special event, the christening of Graham’s god daughter, and we decided the route home must include a deviation through Great Torrington in Devon, and thus a visit to the Royal Horticultural Society’s garden at Rosemoor. It is a magical place, both of itself and its setting in the River Torridge valley, and you probably need to spend a whole day there to do it justice; or better still, stay several days in Rosemoor House and so see the gardens out of hours. Here are a few of the RHS website highlights – not one garden but several gardens.
And here are some of my highlights, pink and otherwise, though we weren’t too lucky with the light. Click on any image to view as a slide show:
In the Pink #25
Can one post too many happy foraging bee shots? I’m thinking not. This particular bee was caught the other evening, enjoying the day’s final tuck-in on an allotment dahlia. I’d gone up there to pick runner beans, tomatoes and autumn raspberries, and to deliver a big bag of compost makings to one of my several heaps.
The dahlias in question have been grown by my plot neighbour Mark. He only grows flowering plants – and with the sole objective of providing for insect life. Of course these late season blooms give everyone who comes to the allotment gardens a burst of pleasure. It’s as if they have captured the best essence of summer in their petals and want to share it with the world. Blooming lovely.
Lens-Artists #11 small is beautiful Amy asks us to show her the little things that give us pleasure, however they strike us.
In the Pink #16
We used to call them sedums (Sedum spectabile). Now, for reasons best known to botanical taxonomists, these common garden succulents have been re-named Hylotelephium spectabile. Talk about a horticultural tongue-twister.
They are late summer bloomers of the stone crop family with flat umbrellas of tiny flowers, on the cusp of opening in the header photo. (The fallen petals belong to some neighbouring phlox). Once they are flowering, the bees and other pollinators will come in swarms for their end-of-season stoke-up on nectar. They are VERY IMPORTANT bee fodder.
That’s one good reason to grow them. Another is that they are exceedingly drought tolerant. A clump on an abandoned plot at the allotment has survived all through the four months of heat and drought, while anyway occupying an arid, rain-shadowed spot under a goat willow, and without any attention whatsoever. While the stems are looking a touch pallid, it is still preparing to put on a floral display. I’m thinking I might repatriate it chez Farrell, that’s if I can excavate it from the concrete soil in which it is presently subsisting.
And the third reason for growing sedums is that they have a certain architectural value in the garden – both before, during, and after flowering. They come in a range of colours through the pink to burgundy spectrum. There are also white ones, and some with variegated foliage.
With some thoughtful planting they can indeed be spectabile, limit the need for watering in dry weather, and keep the bees well fed at summer’s end.
In the Pink #10
I popped out in the garden at lunch time, armed with my little Canon Ixus, and found it was all go on the bee front. The header flower, Helianthus Capenoch Star was proving very popular. I’d only bought it the other day, to go in the back of the flower bed that I said was ‘officially full’, and it is still in its pot, waiting for a slightly cooler moment to plant it out. In the meantime, it is being much visited. But then that goes for most of the other flowers: zinnias, cosmos, liatris, doronicum, echinacea, rudbeckia, and the self-sown purple toadflax. So many happy buzzing souls.
And then there was also the hoverfly:
Well they look like pagoda roofs to me. But the other interesting thing is that these bumble bees are breaking into the flowers through the rooftops, drilling into the nectar stores at the end of the flower tubes. This, I learn, is a habit of short-tongued bees, stealing the stash from the long-tongued bumbles (Bombus hortorum) who usually visit columbine flowers more politely, using the front door.
Roof Squares 17 Please drop in on Becky – for a very novel roof, and a brilliant round-up of everyone’s roof offerings
I’ve written quite a lot about bees on this blog, and in particular the threat of neonicotinoid pesticides to which, researchers suggest, bees become addicted (see Bee-ing Bee-Minded), so I am hugely pleased to find so many bees feeding on my untainted raspberry flowers. Nothing like the sound of happy, busy bees and the sight of all those raspberries in the making. Thank you bees.
copyright 2018 Tish Farrell
Up at the allotment the globe artichokes we did not eat earlier in the summer are flowering, and the Red-tailed Bumblebees think all their breakfasts have come at once. In fact they’re trying to scoff them all at once too. The flower, after all, is a VERY BIG thistle. This makes me wonder if the huge expanse of ultra-violet attractant doesn’t over-stimulate the foraging impulse, thus explaining the manic bee rootling that has them scrabbling, bottoms up, through the petal forest to reach the sweet stuff beneath.
Those with longer legs seem to cope best, but I’ve already had to rescue two. They seem to become mired in the petals. Either that or they’re simply spaced out on the sugar rush.
Macro Monday over at Jude’s
The opium poppies that have been growing behind our sheds (aka the old privies) are on their last gasp now – one or two blooms amongst a phalanx of seed heads. But there’s still plenty of bee forage along the fence – pale mauve spires of spearmint, purple tufts of wild knapweed, the oregano coming into flower.
And there’s also much to entice them inside the garden.
These ornamental strawberry plants have colonized the gravel path. I might have to move them at the end of the summer. They definitely have world domination in mind. And although they make tasty Alpine type strawberry fruits, the blackbirds always seem to get to them first.
Purple Toadflax is another bee favourite, and it also grows itself around the garden.
And finally, here we have a bee in clover, wings all of a dazzle in the midday sun:
Now for some really good close-up photography, please buzz off to Jude’s Macro Monday
It was every bee for itself over in the poppy patch behind the garden sheds this morning: the apian equivalent of a supermarket trolley dash. Honey bees, little brown bumbles, dinky stripy bumbles, blooming big scary bumbles and white-tailed bumbles diving in for the poppy nectar while the air all round filled with happy bee hum. Some were feeding with such speed and voracity that their baggage compartments were definitely approaching the overloaded mark. Now and then they would take a feeding break on the poppy’s crown while they dusted themselves down and redistributed the pollen cargo.
The gathering technique is also fascinating. They dive into the base of the flower and speed round beneath the stamens, feeding on the nectar while every part of them hoovers up pollen from the anthers. Even with the biggest bumbles, once they get into their stride, all you can see are the stamens ruffling round like curtain pelmet tassels in a stiff breeze. Whoosh, and it’s on to the next feeding station.
I probably don’t need to say it again to those who follow this blog, but then no chance should be wasted. The wellbeing of our planet, and of humanity, and of the continued production of much of our food depends on protecting and nurturing bee populations any way we can. Masses are being killed off by pesticides and habitat loss. So loud applause for the opium poppies that came of their own accord to our boundary fence, and are doing their bit for bee world. Rah! Rah! Hurrah, poppies!
Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge: Details