Speaking of bumblebees with Stonehouse Gardening Club written by Elizabeth Goddard

SOMETIMES, hairiest is best.

Bumblebees are the most hairy of all bees, and that makes them the best pollinator in the garden.

They are able to trap a heavy load of pollen in their hairy coats, and as they move from flower to flower, they generously share the stuff.

There are 24 types of bumbles performing this important task in UK gardens.

Alan Wells, beekeeper and gardener living on May Hill in the Forest of Dean, recently spent an hour telling the Stonehouse Gardening Club fascinating stories about these vital creatures.

And yes, it is possible to identify the type of bumble (if you can get your bumble to stay still).

The bee in the photograph, here seen busy foraging at the heart of an Inula Orientalis Grandiflora blossom, is a Bombus terrestis worker bee, more commonly known as a buff-tailed bumblebee, and the nation’s favourite bumble.

She has a golden-yellow collar behind the head and on the abdomen, like the rest of her kind, but because she is a worker bee, not a queen, her tail is white with only a small buff line where it joins the abdomen, which is black.

The queen’s tail is entirely buff.

All of them, queen or worker, male or female, sport this delicate buff colour.

Other bumbles could be entirely ginger, or have orange-red, or white tails.

If they inconveniently nest in your mower or inside a bucket, however, they are probably common garden bees with yellow-banded white tails.

Bumblebees will nest in your garden area, on the ground- perhaps in the earth under the grass in your lawn, in hedges, or even in bird-boxes, because unlike honeybees, they don’t live in permanent colonies.

They are not aggressive creatures, and if you find a bumblebee in your garden in winter, let it be.

Look after your bumbles.

Cut down on harmful chemicals, and cultivate blue flowers for the humble bumble, as they see blues best (top of the colour spectrum).

Allan reminded us that it won’t be too long before the first queen bees make an appearance in the garden - in just a few weeks’ time.

Or perhaps you are lucky, and there is a happy bee buzzing around your garden already, already announcing the coming of spring?