Bumblebee airport in my garden


I received an email recently from T. R. of Kelso about bees, who told me: “There has been general discussion over the last few months about disappearing bees.

“Well, you will be pleased to know that most of them seem to be in our garden in Kelso.

“We have a border measuring 12 metres, cultivated with lavender, which is occupied at the moment by 50/100 bees of varying sizes.

“The border is full all day and has been so for a week or more.”

My own observations confirm this apparent resurgence in the bee population, particularly bumble bees.

It is amazing what a couple of months of good weather can do.

Last week, I was mowing the lawn when I spotted a bumblebee disappearing down a rodent hole in the turf.

Soon another appeared and did the same, confirming the presence of an underground nest.

It was too good an opportunity to miss, so I went for my camera and settled down to watch the proceedings.

The traffic was non-stop with an arrival or departure about every thirty seconds.

If I was too close to the hole, the arrivals would go into a holding pattern, like aircraft, circling overhead until I leaned back enough to allow a landing.

Despite getting a few seconds’ warning of an impending departure by a high pitched buzzing noise coming from the hole, trying to photograph them was a nightmare.

As soon as they entered the mouth of the hole, they were off.

Seeing them as close as this, I was struck by the difference in size.

Some were easily twice the size of the others. I’m no bee expert so I wondered if the smaller ones were workers and the big ones queens, but I didn’t think the queens went foraging.

Perhaps someone will let me know what was going on.

I think I was looking at white-tailed bumblebees which are very common.

My new garden pond is now complete – or so I thought!

The other night I was walking down the garden in the dark, when I heard a loud plop coming from the pond.

After getting a torch, I discovered that a large toad had panicked at my approach and jumped into the water for safety.

This particular pond is of the rigid preformed plastic sort with steep sides and overhanging bricks to disguise the edge.

All very nice to look at but if you are a toad, there’s no escape.

The next evening I set about remedying this by piling stones at one end to allow anything that wants to, scramble out.

The things you have to do for wildlife!

Email me at corbie@homecall.co.uk