The special world of bees and other pollinators…and our firm new favourite – the Bumblebee!
A busy and beesy week…lots of good things to report back on!
Everyone was glowing with inspiration following our second Seed2seed course session on Saturday. The topic was Bees and other Pollinators, taught by the wonderful Brigit Strawbridge. Brigit’s passion and enthusiasm for all things bees related was clear, she was a fantastic tutor, and her enthusiasm was very much contagious! We all felt very priviledged to share her vast knowledge – learning the importance of many different varieties of bees in our gardens, and how to attract them and support them.
Brigit writes a great blog and one of her most recent posts is about the very important issue of neonicotinoids (link here) and the damaging impacts this agricultural pesticide is having on bees! As well, she includes a concise list of actions you can take to encourage the ban of this chemical group. We’d highly recommend Brigit as a speaker – she is currently looking for bookings for talks and workshops about bees so she can raise awareness of how important they are; how many amazing different species we have in the UK; and how we can help stop their decline. For more information look here.
Her top tips to help bees:
- Be a lazy gardener! Leave piles of leaves and old rotten wood for bees to nest in & under.
- Plant as many different ‘shaped’ flowers as you can; different bees have different requirements so the more variety on offer, the more different bee species you will attract.
- Ensure you have a succession of flowering plants throughout the year. It’s no good having a garden full of blooms in June if there’s nothing for bees to forage on up till then.
- Build or buy some solitary bee homes. They like old bamboo canes or holes drilled in wood. Drill different sized holes (3mm – 8mm) for different species of bee. Place them in south facing positions.
- Find an old dead branch/trunk of lime or beech and prop it up against a south facing wall to attract carpenter bees.
We’re all now very much fascinated by the humble Bumblebee!
Some special facts about Bumblebees that will hopefully inspire you to realise how special they are too!
- There are 24 species of bumblebee in the UK.
- Bumblebees are also extremely important for pollination of plants.
- Favourite nesting sites for Queen Bumblebees are old mouse nests.
- Queen bumblebees brood! They sit over their eggs until they hatch after 4-6 days. As the baby bumblebee larvae hatch they are fed by the queen until after about a couple of weeks they spin a silk cocoon around themselves becoming pupa for another couple of weeks. Once this first brood has hatched, they will take over the role of feeding the baby bees while the Queen continues laying eggs. The process will continue until the colony is about 200 strong.
- Once male bumblebees leave the nest they don’t return, so during the night you’ll often find them sleeping underneath the heads of flowers, or sometimes even right inside them.
- Male bumblebees can mate repeatedly, they don’t die immediately after mating like honeybees.
- Male bumblebees can be identified by yellow band around the head and a kind of moustache!
- Bumblebees can rob nectar from long gullet-shaped flowers, by biting a small hole down the bottom of the flower where the nectar is located and sucking it out. This is a clever approach to get around the extra work required to get the nectar by entering the front of the flower!
On Sunday we joined in at the YMCA Priory Park Fun Run and Festival, along with the Budgens team. Us selling plants, them selling sausages and burgers! It was a good opportunity to connect with locals who hadn’t heard of us before.
Happening this week at FOOD from the SKY…
Wednesday: work day in the garden 10am-1pm. Warmer weather this week – so bring sunscreen, comfortable clothes, strong shoes.
Also on Wednesday 4pm – 7:30pm we need help carrying compost up the stairs to the rooftop! We’re having 2 tonnes of compost arrive to the Budgens carpark and need many strong arms and legs to move the compost upstairs! Skip your regular gym session and join us for some stair-climbing instead…pretty please!
Friday – work day with Jack 9am-4pm. Come and help with harvest and more. Bring strongshoes, warm clothes etc
Saturday – we’re open for a volunteers day this Saturday from 12-4pm.
Come and lend a hand in the garden, we’ll be making nettle and comfrey tea solutions, on top of the usual jobs of sowing, transplanting etc. The forecast says sunshine, so remember to bring sunscreen/hat, it will be a nice day to spend in the garden!