Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

Where are all the bumblebees?

I was talking to my friend, John, the head gardener at Denman College last week and he commented he is not seeing very many bees in the garden yet even though his great bank of catmint is beginning to flower - pictured above. I wandered over and. sure enough, in a 4 meter section there were only two hairy-footed flower bees but not a single bumblebee.  I had noticed the same lack of bees at rosybee so I checked back at my records.

If you have read my blog before you probably know that I count bees regularly to quantify how attractive various plants are to them. So, I am doing my normal thing whenever it seems dry and warm enough: head out with the clipboard and look for bees to count....but there is a notably lack of them.

Its now the end of May and the weather is still grey with a chilly wind coming from the north so I thought that maybe this was putting the bees of but looking back my at notes for the last two years I see that the last two weeks in May were not particularly warm and definitely breezy. The only real weather distinction is that the days were brighter if not warmer.

The solitary bees seem to be about and also the carder bumblebees are putting in regular appearances but I am seeing very few of the other species, where normally I would expect to see early, buff-tailed, and red-tailed bumblebees in greater numbers by now.

I am wondering if the very long wet winter impacted these ground-nesters?

by rosi