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The Bumblebee Blog - Part 20

In Becky's final Bumblebee Blog she writes about the joy of seeing the garden in bloom. She also talks about the difference between a honeybee and a bumblebee.

Summer is truly here with roses, lupins and nepeta in full swing. There is no shortage of pollen or nectar, and the bumblebees have a feast in front of them. The rose ‘Blue for You’ in the central bed has never been a particularly vigorous grower. It may be because of the shallow soil in the garden, or maybe just its habit. However, this winter it was generously mulched with manure and additionally fed with chicken manure pellets as it started into growth in March. It was not pruned at all since its final dead-heading last autumn and the result is that it looks better than it ever has. Another rose takes centre stage in the garden at the moment. This is R ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’. It’s a very vigorous rambler which has one flush of blooms a year, but makes a terrific show with clusters of small pink blooms showering off the branches. It is planted in the wild corner but trained along the back of the information hut.

In the vegetable patch, the rocket from last year has finally been pulled out after flowering like a Gaura for many months. The flowers are edible but they taste of rocket leaves so better used to adorn a salad than a dessert.

It may seem strange at this point to be sowing seeds, but now is an excellent time to sow foxgloves for next year. Sowing now means the young plants will be big enough to plant out in the garden at the end of summer, and will have time to establish themselves before making a generous show next year.

Somebody asked last week if a honeybee was a type of bumblebee. The answer is no.

There are 20,000 – 30,000 species of bees worldwide. 250 species - about 1% of the world’s total - are native to the UK. These consist of 24 bumblebee species (Bombus), one honeybee species (Apis mellifera) and the rest are solitary bees. Of our 24 bumblebees, 18 species are social and live together in nests and 6 are cuckoo bumblebees which lay their eggs in nests belonging to other species. Our precious 24 species of bumblebee are only 0.1% of the world’s bee species but they definitely punch above their weight in our ecosystem.

Click the link HERE to find out more about the comparison between honeybees and bumblebees, written by our friends at The Bumblebee Conservation Trust