Summer is on its way!

The snowdrops and crocus have been and gone, daffodils are a glow of yellow, the magnolia is about to open it buds and the wonderful aubrieta  looks fantastic as it cascades over the wall in the garden here at Iffin Farmhouse.

Although the aubrieta produces delicate simple small four petalled purple flowers, in an abundance they look stunning. Not only are they beautiful  the flowers have lots of nectar for bees!

This morning we found: Lady birds (5-spot ladybird Coccinella quinquepunctata) – Lady birds help by eating Aphids, Black fly and Green fly; Honey Bees and;  the Garden Bumble bee (marked by the distinct double band of yellow at his thorax) and the red tailed (distinguished by the red hindquarters – they often make nests under stones or slabs).

Bees pollinate crops and flowers and are an essential part of the food chain – no bees no food!  Albert Einstein reportedly said the human race would last just four years in a world without bees. Bees are in danger of dying out. In the winter of 2008, one in three hives were lost. Did you know there are 27 species of Bumble Bee in the UK?  As well as the Honey Bee and Bumble Bee who are social creatures there is also the Solitary Bee (who live in pairs!)in narrow holes in walls and in decaying wood.

All three types make honey by mixing nectar from flowers with enzymes and then evaporating much of the moisture by fanning the mixture with their wings.

They use the honey to feed their offspring and to fuel their wing muscles – a honeybee flaps its wings about 230 times a second and would get about seven million miles out of a gallon of honey!

Gardeners can deploy a range of bee-friendly plants to keep the bees in nectar and pollen throughout the year. You would think nothing of giving a bunch of flowers to a valued friend so why not say it with flowers to a bee!