ginger coloured bee

I found the first Andrena fulva – tawny mining bee – whilst weeding the garden today. This is a solitary bee which nests underground, building a volcano-like mound of soil around the entrance to its burrow. They generally emerge in April, so this one is a few weeks early.

ginger coloured bee

The tawny mining bee, Andrena fulva

I also found a queen wasp and two honey bees emerging from hibernation in our conservatory, where they have spent the winter.

Spring is definitely in the air; tomorrow is the Spring Equinox so we can look forward to longer days and next weekend 26 March, we move on to British Summer Time when the clocks go forward an hour.

 

Spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations.

© 2017 Lavender Hedge

 

Echinops ritro is the ultimate fast food for bees, and you hardly ever see a flower in bloom without a bee feasting on it. Easy to grow, this hardy perennial prefers a sunny situation. After flowering I leave the seed heads for the birds, before cutting down to ground level.

Bumble bee on Echinops ritro

This is an easy to grow perennial flower for a sunny aspect, which flowers from early summer to well into the autumn. The clumps of Knautia (pronounced ‘naughtier’) do get large and sprawl about, so give them plenty of room. The crimson pompom flowers are a big hit with bees and butterflies and the seed heads are loved by the birds. It self-seeds prolifically and I often replace the large clumps with younger specimens. It can be affected by powdery mildew, however I simply cut back the stems and allow to re-grow.

Bumble Bee on Knautia macedonica flower

This is a pretty little annual flower which is very easy to grow from seed and is ideal for hanging baskets or shady places. Each flower has five petals, each one with a deep blue spot at the tip – hence the name.  As you can see from this picture the bees love the flowers!

Bumble bee on Nemophila maculata Five Spot

Aquilegias are an easy to grow perennial flower, which the bees love. A popular cottage garden plant, its bonnet shaped flowers give them the common name Granny’s Bonnet. I used to wonder why the aquilegia flower spurs had holes in them and then I discovered that the bees are using a shortcut to get at the nectar, by piercing the spur instead of using the ‘front entrance’ of the flower. Clever little bees!

Bumble Bee on Aquilegia flower

Here are some tips on how to get the most out of your self-sown aquilegia plants.

Delphiniums are hardy perennials and very easy to grow. The young shoots may need protection from slugs and staking the plants before they start flowering is essential as they get incredibly heavy and easily snap off in the wind. This vivid blue delphinium has no trouble attracting the bees in my garden!

Blue Delphinium Flower

This lovely shrub has started flowering and is a valuable source of food for any bees still out and about.

Although a deciduous shrub, it flowers throughout the winter, producing fragrant pink blooms, set against cinnamon coloured bark. The leaves in spring are beautiful bronze, turning red in the autumn.

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