Bumblebees are my excuse for the currently very messy flowerbed at the front of my house. It’s always been the one I’ve struggled with most to grow plants rather than weeds, but the current selection of unplanned wildflowers and grasses do seem to attract more bumblebees than most, as do the two rather unruly flowering shrubs in the further corners of my back garden. So no replanting or pruning is likely to happen in either area this summer until firstly the nasturtiums flower (and more on them in another post), or until all the pollinator-friendly flowers have finished for the year.
Encouraging pollinators is, of course, essential to ensuring the ready-availability of a wide range of crops as well as for biodiversity. Bumblebees venture out in colder weather than honeybees but are more sensitive to pollen availability and so need to be supplied with a good selection of flowers throughout the year. According to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, the UK is currently home to 24 species out of around 250 worldwide, although two other British bumblebee species have become extinct in the last 80 years. From the same source, it is suggested that British gardeners provide more foxgloves, lavender, geraniums, herbs and wild roses as well as wildflower areas, so I’ll definitely be bearing that in mind next time I’m deciding what to plant.
Find out more in the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s factsheet, which can be downloaded from here, or read up on wildlife-friendly gardening courtesy of the Wildlife Trusts here, and do your bit to keep British Bumblebees buzzing.