Brilliant bees

Spring equinox is fast approaching and I feel like my body and mind are waking from the winter blues.  Now that air temperatures are rising and we have more daylight hours many other species will be waking from slumber.

Last week I heard, then saw, my first bumblebee of 2018.  She was a buff-tailed bumblebee Bombus terrestris queen skirting the woodland fringe at Crabtree Ghyll, Ilkley.  These are amongst the first species on the wing and will be looking out for flowers to feed on.  It’s good to see crocus flowering in lawns across Bradford as these will help provide some much needed pollen.

Did you know that we have over 250 bee species in the UK?  The honeybee Apis mellifera is just one species and was introduced by humans.  You’ve no doubt heard of the decline in bees but often too much emphasis is placed on the honeybee forgetting the many native species found across the British Isles.

Note the hairy legs of the male hairy-footed flower-bee. Photograph: Steven Falk

My favourite bee species has to be the hairy-footed flower-bee Anthophora plumipes.  This is one of the 225+ solitary bee species in the UK and will be noticed zipping between flowers from March through to June.  Steven Falk has a fantastic gallery of bee photos available to view on Flickr.  Here is a video on solitary bees and some of their fascinating life cycles.

Across parks, gardens, and other “greenspaces” we can all do our bit in providing more diverse habitat and reversing the decline in pollinators and other wildlife.  Simply leaving areas of normally mown grass until dandelions have flowered can provide a banquet for bees and other pollinators.  Greenspaces can be deserts to wildlife and the introduction of colour in terms of flowers can make a MASSIVE difference both to pollinators and people!