Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that in the summer I like to go for a walk round my local park (Elthorne Park in Hanwell) and see what wild flowers are out. Last week I managed to continue this tradition and get out in the sunshine to find me some pretty flowers and bees.
I wondered if this bumble on white dead-head nettles might be a queen – she seems pretty big. That tail looks a nice clean white, do you reckon she’s a White- tailed bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)? In ‘Plants and Honey Bees: their relationships‘ by David Aston and Sally Bucknall it says “Special mention must be made of the importance of white dead-nettle as a bumblebee forage plant for queens emerging from hibernation in spring” (p99).
Forget-me-nots I believe. They like moist habitats and these ones are growing near a river that runs through Elthorne Park.
Bluebells of various colours. The Spanish kind rather than native English bluebells I expect.
This was one of the last flowers I spotted – not one I’ve seen in Elthorne Park before. Lots of bees were on it, but I have no idea what it is. I know some flower experts follow this blog so I’m hoping one of you can help me out!
EDIT: several nice people below have commented to say that it is comfrey, a favourite with bees.
Dandelions are so cheerful – and great for bees.
Lots of blossom out now too. Suddenly nature is exploding into life all around us. May is my birthday month and I love this time of year, full of hope and expectations for the summer ahead.
On Friday Drew and I went down to Northfields allotments to meet Tom and make a start on getting our new plot ready. I am no gardener so am glad Tom knows what he’s doing. I found out about the plot as a result of helping out with the Radbourne Walk nature project behind it. I mentioned to someone I was a beekeeper – and it turned out one of the allotment managers had been hoping to find a beekeeper to take over a plot that none of the gardeners wanted.
Here’s a ‘before’ photo of Drew standing in front of the plot. There was a fair bit of rubbish to clear but most of the work involved chopping down brambles to make a flat space for our hives. Even though the allotments have a huge waiting list (85 people as of March 2014), people kept turning this plot down because it was overgrown, has stony ground and they think the apple tree makes it too shady. However it is a lovely plot for bees and we found it sunny on Friday.
I’m very excited about this new site for our bees. Northfields allotments is only a ten minute bike ride for me. Plus it’s so much fun to walk around looking at all the different flowers and fruit & veg being grown. One person has put a mini pond in theirs! Tom reckons the stony, poor soil in our plot would suit growing wild flowers, which thrive in soil like that. If I keep going to the Radbourne walk sessions I can get tips on doing this.
An after pic, after Tom got going with the strimmer. We have a plum tree (not pictured) as well as an apple tree – fantastic!