What’s flowering now – mid April; and a new allotment site for our bees

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.

Bumble on nettles

Bumble on nettles

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-not

Forget-me-not

Forget-me-nots I believe. They like moist habitats and these ones are growing near a river that runs through Elthorne Park.

Bluebells

Bluebells

Bluebells of various colours. The Spanish kind rather than native English bluebells I expect.

Mystery plant

Anyone know what this is?

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.

Bumble approaching flower

 

Dandelions are so cheerful – and great for bees.

Dandelions

Dandelions

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.

Tree blossom

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.

Drew before work started

Drew before work started

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!

Tom surveying his work

About Emily Scott

I am a UK beekeeper living in Ealing, west London. I have been keeping bees in the Ealing Beekeepers Association’s local apiary since 2008 and created this blog as a record for myself of my various beekeeping related disasters and - hopefully - future successes. Busy taking the British Beekeeping Association module exams too!
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23 Responses to What’s flowering now – mid April; and a new allotment site for our bees

  1. Reblogged this on Linda's wildlife garden and commented:
    lovely post thank you for sharing

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  2. Your mystery plant looks like Comfrey to me, but it’s flowering early. I have Comfrey in my garden and it has no flowers yet. I have though seen Borage nearby in flower. Comfrey is a bee favourite.
    There is a good section on growing wild flowers in Dave Goulson’s book, “A sting in the tale”.

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    • Emily Heath says:

      Thank you Philip, I will update the post to say it’s comfrey. I have seen Borage flowering too – everything is early this year. Thank you for reminding me about the section in Dave’s book, I have a copy.

      Like

  3. Grower says:

    Great that the plot has found its purpose!

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  4. pixelwave says:

    Difficult to tell from photo on my phone but is the flower you couldn’t ID comfrey?

    Al.

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  5. disperser says:

    Exciting times, and nice that the new place is so close.

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    • Emily Heath says:

      It will make a big difference to me wanting to go and see our bees. Our other site in a church garden has lots of drunkards sitting about outside and some nasty objects lying around as a result, so I’d like to move our hive from there soon.

      Like

      • disperser says:

        Whenever you give those details I end up adjusting the manufactured visualization of your environment I get from reading your posts.

        Hope you can move everything fairly quickly; that sounds like a not so good place. I suppose it’s because bees defend their homes, but at least the hives have not been vandalized.

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  6. Your allotment seems perfect for what you want and I rather like the idea of having an apple tree. You could always prune it in the winter if you wanted a bit less shade. It sound an exciting project. Amelia

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  7. Alex Jones says:

    All the flowers you saw are in my garden. I had to turn down an allotment due to lack of time, my business is eating all my time.

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  8. cindy knoke says:

    So lovely!! We are surrounded by bees now!!! I was just out with them taking their pics on the wild lilac and thought of you! Happy Bee-day to you~

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  9. I think that is white comfrey http://www.ukwildflowers.com/Web_pages/symphytum_orientale_white_comfrey.htm
    Here we more commonly get the pink flowered variety, a giant with giant leaves as well. Supposed to be a great composter.

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  10. Eddy Winko says:

    Glad I popped in today, I was thinking about comfrey and wondering if I could find some wild to divide for a patch on the land for the future, and now you have provided me with a few photos and a link to more info 🙂 thank you !

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  11. theresagreen says:

    Great opportunity to create your own spot of honey-bee heaven. Bet you can’t wait to move them in! Looking forward to updates on progress. Watch the comfrey, it’s a good one, but tends to be rampant and is tricky to get rid of.

    Like

  12. mifanwyn says:

    You can use comfrey like vine leaves with cooked mincemeat and cut up vegetables rolled up in them. Dip large comfrey leaves a second or so in boiling water, they still must feel sort of fresh but able to be rolled without breaking. The mincemeat hash should already be cooked. Oven on rather hot maybe 140 degrees C. Put spoonfuls of meat mixture onto leaves and roll up like a little parcel. Then place in buttered casserole dish with a little gravy or stock in oven till hot again. Do not eat more than 1x a week though. My dogs love the stuff and it is brilliant for healing all bone injuries. Make sure though that possible fractures are correctly aligned. It heals things so quickly that if not aligned properly everything heals, but wrongly. Also injured tree branches can be helped by applying comfrey leaf juice then splinting with leaf and tying securely with plant twine. It will heal well if break was not old when found.

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  13. I love the idea of offering a plot too shady for growing most garden plants to a beekeeper. How perfectly sensible. It’s so lovely to see your photos of bees and flowers — spring is late to the Bluegrass this year, with a nasty hard freeze last week that zapped many things in bloom or about to bloom. I’ve only seen a few bees so far, all on Muscari. I’ve decided to plant borage this year, as I do remember how much the bees love it.

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  14. Pingback: What’s blooming this week? | standingoutinmyfield

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