It’s not too late to think about dandelions…it is very rarely too late to think about dandelions. They have a way of anchoring their deep tap roots into the earth of our gardens, between the flagstones of our paths, into cracks in the pavement and growing on in there with a determined enthusiasm, whether we want them there or not. Just now, however, they are especially important for bumblebees waking early into spring. Those golden splashes of sunlight in the grass are valuable food sources for queen bumbles as they wake from hibernation and set out to find food before the late spring flowering really kicks in.
Willow catkins are good too, and pausing next to a willow on a walk offers a good opportunity to see who is up and about
Bumblebees are one of our favourite animals: people hold a great fondness of their round, blundering earnestness and we are finally recognising their huge importance as pollinators: easily on a par with honeybees. Bumbles are valuable, vital, and if your garden hosts a nest tucked away under stones somewhere, neatly snuggled into an old mouse hole perhaps, then you should count yourselves privileged.
If you want to be a bit more clued up on your bumbles, visit the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website for more information. There you will find identification sheets to help you name the bees in your garden. There are 7 species that are most commonly found and another 17 that live in the UK. On a personal level, you can call them anything you like, they probably won’t listen.
It is not too late to plant for your bumbles. From vipers bugloss to lungwort, monkshood and borage to mahonia, bumblebee favourites are often garden stalwarts. And with a little planning now that you might have some time on your hands, you could bumble-up your garden
In keeping with our CelebrationEarth! intention to encourage reflection and contemplation, take a drink into your garden (and a seat if need be). If you haven’t got a garden, head for a nearby park and settle on a bench for a few minutes. Take time to watch. Then perhaps try some bumblewords which is the next post
And dandelions? Just keep an eye on them over the next few weeks as they start to flower and see how often the bumblebees head for them. You can always cut them before their heads explode into clouds of drifting seeds, but just now, please resist the urge to tidy them away
page that helps you get your garden bee-friendly
Photos: c/o G MacLellan
Painting: "sleep" by Ruth Evans see more of her work at The Hedgerow Gallery