There have been many bumblebees in my garden in the last few days of good weather.
They emerged from hibernation and were visiting my early flowering winter/spring heathers for nectar – some were visiting Crocus and Rosemary which has flowered early this year. A few were checking my Camellia, which is a semi-double variety with pink petals, but the rest of the flower is rather distorted and useless for bumblebees looking for nectar. Earlier, on February 25th 2012, on a rather cold day, I saw 5 bumblebees which had emerged in a warm spell, resting with their heads down in the thick grass of my natural meadow lawn (some 180 sq m). This was not nearly as striking as in 2010 when I counted 52 bumblebees on my lawn on 26th March. This was unusual, so I asked Bryan Pinchen, author of A Pocket Guide to the Bumblebees of Britain and Ireland (2006) to comment and identify the bees. They were all the common buff-tailed bumblebee (Bombus terrestris). Bryan had occasionally seen similar behaviour in late winter/early spring when cold and warm spells alternated. As I have quite a lot of early spring flowers in my garden, it is likely that more bees visit, and get ‘trapped’ by falling temperatures. Almost all the bees fly off searching for nest sites or nectar flowers as the temperature rises, but occasionally a few remain head down in the grass and die in that position.