Giant Scabious

June: Some Cephalarias are just opening their flowers at the moment. The first in our garden in C.alpina and she will be closely followed by C.gigantea.

Alpina is much shorter than Gigantea and so far has produced no self-sown seedlings

Cephalaria (Giant Scabious) are very popular with bees.

Salvia

Salvias are the bees' knees for bees at the moment with lots of different species visiting the nemorosas and sylvestris varieties on flower in the garden.

A Tree bumblebee visits Salvia nemorosa Caradonna.

The long and the short of flowers for bees

There's a lot of interest in plants that feed bees and butterflies and even more nonsense talked about them. For example "bees prefer native flowers". So tell me, how would a bee recognise a native from a foreign plant?

For me it doesn't matter where a plant comes from what might be more important is to provide a mix of short and longer tubed flowers as some bees have only short tongues and can't easily reach the nectar in long tubed flowers.

This Buff-Tailed Bumble Bee (Bombus terrestris) is a short-tongued type and is really enjoying this Phuopsis flower in early June.

Phuopsis stylosa hails froms the Caucasus, Asia Minor and Nothern iran, it has short tubes and really attracts the bees.

Early spring nectar plants for bees

You can't beat Pulmonaria for attracting those early flying bumblebees. Here is an Early Bumblebee (Bombus pretorum) just leaving Pulmonaria Mawson's Variety, which flowers from March, or even February in mild years.

Umbels

Our Angelicas are proving to be heaven for bees now and i just noticed the complete lack of wasps. Last year the wasps on the Angelica gigas completely outnumbered the bees but this year, it strikes me now, I've hardly seen a wasp. Some may say "great news" but actually wasps perform a really useful pest control function in the garden so their absence may not be good news at all.

Non Natives

Bees we are told need native flowers and can't get at the nectar in foreign flowers. Well here is a carder bee on Lobelia tupa from Chile. The flowers are possibly normally pollinated by humming birds however as with runner beans and some Salvias, bees have learnt to make a hole at the back of the flower to gain access to the nectar. This of course means they don't pollinate the flowers at all.

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