The flowers have moved on since my last post in May. Some are still with us – white dead-nettle, gorse, dandelions, green alkanet; while others, like horse chestnut and daffodils, have faded. London bees now have a new mix of wild and garden flowers to choose from. Here’s what I’ve been finding them on in local parks.
Two pink comfrey bushes in Elthorne park rough were humming with buff-tailed bumblebees. There are also white varieties of comfrey. It is listed in Prof. Dave Goulson’s list of ‘The best garden flowers for bees‘ – he says it has a “Very long flowering period, from May to August, and one of the very best plants for bees. Visited by long and short-tongued species, the latter often robbing from holes bitten in the tops of the flowers.”
You can see some lovely photos of a male early bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) stealing from comfrey on a post by TrogTrogBlog: Nectar robbers. Honey bees also benefit from the holes bitten by short-tongued bumblebees.
In the fields of Elthorne rough, masses of graceful cow parsley and hogweed grow tall. A few honey bees and bumbles can be found on their delicate little white flowers, along with shiny metallic green beetles. I recommend the post ‘Hogweed days‘ on the Everyday Nature Trails blog to find out more about the pollinators that visit hogweed.
I was particularly pleased to find an Ashy-Mining bee, with its pretty grey and black stripes. Judging by the BWARS description, this is a female, which have “two broad ashy- grey hairbands across the thorax.”
Along the edges of the paths are blackberry brambles, which are popular with both bumbles and honey bees. In his Guide to Bees & Honey, (2010, p.221) Ted Hooper says blackberry is “Well worked by bees even at fairly low temperatures, supplying both nectar and pollen in quantity. Honey of good flavour, medium amber, tending to granulate with a care-grained texture. Pollen load pale brownish grey.”
In the fancier, more formal Lammas park, I found carder, bumble and honey bees on these purple irises and a orange balled flower. Not knowing what the orange balls were, I looked online to find that the plant is called… the orange ball tree (Buddleja globosa). It originally comes from south America.
And in the kitchen gardens of Walpole park are chives, which were being visited by this Red-tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidaries). The pollen co-ordinates well with its bottom!
Coming soon: white clover, thistles, knapweed, rosebay willow herb, himalayan balsam and ragwort.
And below is an advert for the powers of royal jelly – look how chubby those cheeks are now 🙂