Ealing is particularly beautiful in April and May. Many of the roads and parks near me are lined with white and pink blossom trees. On a sunny day you can stand under them and hear the hum of bees high above, and spot dark shapes flitting between the flowers. As the petals fall they become colourful confetti for the pavement, swirling gently in the wind.
EDIT: Thanks to Honeymedic for his comment about the tree above – “It may be another cultivar but your first tree looks very like Eucryphia Nymansensis which does not generally flower until August but then the bees in my garden go mad on it. In its native Chile, Euchryphia Cordifolia is the source of the wonderful healing honey ULMO.”
Ealing also has many horse chestnut trees, which are now covered with white candles of flowers. These are popular with honey bees.
Though from a distance horse chestnut flowers appear white, they have a touch of yellow within when their flowers are un-pollinated and excreting nectar. After a horse chestnut flower has been pollinated, the yellow blotch turns a red/pink magenta to let pollinators know. Additionally after pollination the flower has a change in scent that bees pick up, so that they avoid wasting their time visiting that flower. Have a look next time you’re under a horse chestnut.
Me and Tom have been going for walks together and doing some bee spotting. Well, I walk and Tom gets pushed. We have four parks in walking distance and pretty gardens to walk past too. There are still a few front gardens which haven’t been turned into car parks. Can you see the bee above on gorse? Sorry for the bad photo but I have been using my phone as it’s light and I have so much baby stuff to carry.
I believe this gorse visitor is the beautifully named Hairy-Footed Flower Bee. It likes nesting in old walls and its favourite flower is lungwort (pulmonaria).
This might be an Early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum)? If anyone knows what the pink flower is, please let me know.
EDIT: Thanks to Lucy Garden, Julie, Amelia, Mark and WesternWilson for commenting that the pink flower may be a geranium. Amelia added “There are a lot of different perennial geraniums and I find them very useful in the garden as some are very tough and can smother anything in rough sites yet the bumble bees love them.”
I have been disappointed as I’ve not been seeing as many bumbles as I’d expect at this time of year. Was the mostly mild winter bad for them? I’ve been walking past sunny banks of green alkanet (evergreen bugloss) and not seeing a single bee.
I did see a few honey bees on the green alkanet but not many. Perhaps they are distracted by the magnificent horse chestnuts.
This is a common carder bee on white dead-nettle. Nettles are such great plants for wildlife and I find them pretty too.
People go crazy for big showy flowers like tulips, but arguably the delicate forget-me-nots behind are just as beautiful. A bee would prefer the forget-me-nots.
Daffodils are still around, but they’re not a great flower for honey bees. If you look at p.26 of the BBKA News April 2011 edition you will see a couple of letters about daffodils. Daffs contain toxic chemicals (known as alkaloids) that include lycorine. The wild daffodil is pollinated principally by bumblebees — Bombus terrestris, B. muscorum, B. hortorum, B. lapidarius — and Anthophora plumipes (hairy footed flower bee). However honey bees are rarely seen on daffodils, and Adrian Davis from Canterbury BKA suggests that this is because they store food for longer than bumbles. Possibly by not collecting daffodil pollen (or nectar) they avoid the build up of lycorine in the hive.
Anyone know what this unusual purple flower is?
EDIT: Thanks to Lucy Garden and Julie for commenting that the purple flower is an aquilegia aka columbine.
Finally, not a flower but Tom a week ago.