I took a wander around my garden yesterday to see how many different bees I could spot, and what plants they like the best. I try to make sure that there are at least a couple out between February and November when the bumble bee season runs and currently there are several, including foxgloves:
These are wonderful plants, easy to grow and hapy with a range of conditions. You can buy seeds from Crocus here for a number of varieties, but this is the basic one (digitalis purpurea) that will naturalize and provide multi-storey feeding for pollinators. However, these were not fully out and the bees were instead buzzing around a plant that was firing on all cyclinders. This is the phlomis:
Looking vigorous and taking up too much path room! It was so busy (or buzzy) with bees I had to be careful squeezing past it to avoid getting stung. Phlomis russeliana does not mind drought, and has a long May-September flowering season. This is another plant that is easy to grow being properly hardy, salt tolerant and generally tough. Unlike the foxgloves which are happy in sun or shade this one likes full sun. You can also buy this here from Crocus, this time as a 2 litre pot plant which will arrive very well packed.
So, which bees did I see then and how did I identify them? There is a useful identification section on the Bumblebee Conservtion Trust site here which lists every bumble bee you are likely to see in the British Isles. Click here to visit. Firstly I saw several honey bees, these were the most numerous species. There is only one species of these in this country and none are wild; they all belong to people these days. There are also 24 species of bumble bee, and I saw several different types. There were some buff colored Common Carder Bbees, a Red Tailed bee and several White Tailed bees. Others were harder to identify, and there is a difference between males, workers and queens but I saw at least three kinds. Now I intend to take a closer look at my bees and hopefully get some closeups with my camera; these less detailed photos were take with my cell phone.