For days now the cherry plum trees that line the end of the garden have been spangled with white blossom. We’ve missed the clear, crisp days of winter when the sky is blue and the air cold. Instead this profusion of tiny flowers must be our frost and our snow.
Beneath the branches, huddled together, clumps of snowdrops nod. Slowly opening from tiny droplets to full-bodied blooms, petals like goats’ ears, they pepper the garden with hope.
Their taller cousins, the snowflakes, enjoying the damp, are already beginning to unfurl from their casings – an appearance usually reserved for April or May.
All three – blossom, snowdrops, and snowflakes – are good sources of early nectar for emerging bees; but the it’s the blossom that seems most attractive. Spotting my first bumblebee (usually heard before seen) is a joy I look forward to each year, and last week an unmistakable buzz in the branches above me signalled a foraging queen. She (a Bombus terrestris, buff-tailed bumblebee) was out a good month earlier than my first sighting last year, a Bombus hypnorum (tree bumblebee) on 12 March.
I watched for a moment as she hummed in contentment, buzzing from flower to flower. She’ll continue to feed on nectar to replenish her energy supplies after many months in hibernation. As the temperature begins to rise she will start her search for a suitable nest site, and there she will raise a new colony. I can’t wait for the garden to be buzzing with bees again.