Bees are brilliant
It is hard to think of a more aptly named creature than the Bumblebee. These furry little buzzing balls, with their unfeasibly small wings, seem to bumble about aimlessly from flower to flower. Yet the 25 species of bumblebee living in the UK are all perfectly adapted to their environment, even having different length tongues dependent on the type of flowers they prefer to feed from. Simple common names, such as White-tailed, Red-tailed, Buff-tailed, Garden and Early hardly do justice to the importance of these industrious little insects.
Unlike the Honeybee that relies on humans to provide it with a home and protect it from parasites, bumblebees just find a disused mouse hole or similar refuge to build a nest and then get on with the job of pollinating flowers and raising the next bee generation. Bumblebees may not give us honey, but they do pollinate the fruit and vegetables that we eat without asking anything in return.
Bumblebees do well on the because we don’t use chemical pesticides and herbicides that kill the bees and the wild flowers they depend on, but generally they are suffering a serious decline in numbers. Everyone can do their bit for bumblebees by planting some bee-friendly flowers in their garden, on their balcony or even in their window box.
The last remaining on the League’s Baronsdown wildlife sanctuary have dropped their antlers now and they are off to spend the summer hidden deep in cover somewhere whilst they grow a new pair. We hope they will survive and return bigger and stronger in time for the autumn rut. The end of April also sees the end of the season, which gives the deer a break and gives us a chance to get on with essential maintenance work on the sanctuaries without having to constantly look over our shoulders in case a hunt appears.
One swallow does not a summer make, according to Aristotle, but the sound of one twittering overhead on the League’s Baronsdown wildlife sanctuary, as it swoops across the sky gorging on insects, certainly does lift your heart. It has the power to instantly trigger fond memories of long sunny summer days and to reassure you that in spite of everything things will be okay.
The positive effects that interactions with nature have on our minds and bodies are well documented and there is no better time to get outside and enjoy wildlife than the present.