Where have all the bumlebees gone?
6:00pm Sunday 1st September 2013 in News
Humming a busy tune into September by Ellen Winter of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust
IT HAS been a respectable summer for bumblebees this year, with meadows and gardens humming as they collect nectar.
It always makes me think how magical it would be to time travel back to the summers of Laurie Lee‘s childhood in Slad, when in Cider with Rosie “bees blew like cake-crumbs through the golden air, white butterflies like sugared wafers.”
And while there seem to have been lots of bumblebees around in the last few weeks, can you imagine (or do you remember?) ten bees, or twenty, for every one you see now?
Bumblebees whirring in their hundreds and thousands, white, orange, red, buff and black - humblebees, dumbledores, humming from bud to blossom to bloom.
Bumblebees are an integral part of the wildlife of these valleys, and are essential to the wildflower meadows and hedgerows Laurie loved, as they hum around pollinating foxglove, knapweed, scabious and Himalayan balsam.
What? You don’t remember reading about Himalayan balsam in Cider with Rosie?
The stately, sugar-pink balsam was introduced to gardens by the Victorians but in the last few decades has become a plague of damp places.
Himalayan balsam might look pretty and bee keepers love the honey produced - but beneath the six foot tall plants lays a desert.
Shaded and outcompeted, our native wildflowers struggle to survive and the nectar-laden balsam blooms steal bees away from pollinating nearby wildflowers so they can’t set seed.
We’ll be talking about what you can do to help restore the natural riches of the Stroud Valleys at the sixth Stroud Festival of Nature on Saturday, September 7, from 11am-6pm in Stratford Park.
Come along to find out more about how you can help the humble bumble, control the balsam, and make your own fuzzy bee to take away.
The festival has 40 to 50 nature themed stalls to enjoy and I’ll be there to answer all your nature questions – so why not pack up a yummy picnic and make a day of it
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