Blooms for bees: February

It has been cold and grey, the damp bringing with it a persistent chill. But the garden is slowly awakening, and already there are flowers to welcome the first buzzy visitors of the year when they arrive. It’s good to know that the garden is ready.

Winter aconites spangle the lawn like bright yellow suns; opening each morning in defiance of the cold; each bloom, surrounded by a pretty green ruff, providing an easily accessible banquet for those in search of nectar.

The real stars of the garden at this time of year, however, are the snowdrops. Swathes of them provide early nectar for any honey bees brave enough to venture out from their hives on warmer days. The delicate, pendulous blooms pose no problem for these small agile bees.

But it’s the patch of hellebores that I like to sit by most. It’s here that I often spot the first hungry queen bumblebees of the year. Usually heard before seen, the unmistakable deep buzz will belong to a buff-tailed (Bombus terrestris) queen, newly-emerged from hibernation and in desperate need of sustenance before beginning her characteristic low, zig-zagging flights which signal her search for a nest site.

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These queens feed on the bergenias too, which are already beginning to flower in the border on the west side of the house.

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I would love to know if you have spotted any bees yet this year, and what they are feeding on. Do leave a comment to let me know.

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