Firstly congratulations on the new website,and what a pleasure to have a lovely new place for bee talk !
Just a simple question - in this glorious weather,I’d expect to see a variety of bumblebees about.
Yesterday I took a walk round the National Trust garden,which was looking a picture with plenty of rhododendrons,azaleas,aquilegia and bluebells in full flower. In four hours there I didn’t see a single bee of any kind.
Similarly,this afternoon I passed a hedge of Rosa rugosa,which is usually an excellent place for taking bumblebee pictures. Again,there wasn’t a single bee.
Is this unusual ? I’d expected to see loads of bees at the NT place,I even saw some when we were there in January. Is anyone else experiencing this ? I’m in Sussex .
This is concerning. I have been in central London these past few days (for the launch of Bees for Everyone & associated press work). Generally I saw few bees. Even at Chelsea, with flowers everywhere, there were only a few bumblebees around. I put it down to the very hot weather (it can get too hot for bumblebees to forage) but perhaps this is a general pattern. What have others experienced? How are your gardens this year - many bees?
This is a great example of the importance of BeeWalk, our national population monitoring scheme. With the help of volunteers (around 100 at present) we aim to have standardised monthly counts, month on month, year on year. This will, over time, allow us to formally monitor population change and detect early warning signs or indeed measure conservation successes.
Recent scientific work suggests that neonicotinoid pesticides, used to systemically treat all oil seed rape (the bright yellow fields), may be harming bee populations. It is possible - I stress possible - that populations may be being suppressed by these chemicals. We are in discussions with the National Farmers Union and other partners about the way forward here.
I’m in SW Surrey and have also noticed a lack of bumbles this year, wondering if it has anything to do with the weather back in April
I have seen a few bumblebees in the past few weeks. I currently have a regular visitation from one carder and one white-tailed queen to my garden; the carder is disappearing into an old coal bunker at the back of the garden so I am hoping there may be a nest there. I have assumed that the queens were still creating their nests and that I would see more bumblebees in the coming weeks.
I’ve kept honey bees for 35+ years and this spring’s sequence of cold and wet weather has been an enormous challenge to them - and to beekeepers. In-hive honey and pollen stores have been consumed at a time of year when usually there is a rapid build-up of stores. So, I think firstly that bumblebee queens have had a hard time starting nests: but that hopefully the long time-spread over which queens come out of hibernation might be their salvation. If this is the case, we should get bumblebee numbers making a comeback: if most queens starved, then we will see low numbers all summer.
Here in Bucks I’m seeing only a small number of foraging bumblebee workers - far fewer than normal and still a few queens. A Cotoneaster horizontalis shrub in my garden is usually alive with bumblebees and honey bees at this time of year, but so far the numbers are very well down. What are there though are B. hypnorum, B. pratorum, B. lucorum/terrestris and honey bees, which is a reasonable balance of species. So far the worker bumblebees are pretty small, which again says they are the first kids out of the nest.
So, I’m hoping what we are observing is nest formation much later than usual, rather than a major drop off in bumblebee colonies.
PS. It is wonderful to have this opportunity to discuss BB issues with like minded folk - THANK YOU to the BBCT team !
I’ve not done my beewalk for this month yet but going on my garden then numbers are well down from what they would normally be. All I have seen this week (when I would expect to see quite a few) are a queen early bee (Pratorum), a very small worker tree bee plus a queen and small worker carder bee (earlier in the year I had buff, white and red tails and garden bees as well).
Interestingly, the carders only appeared late on so I wonder if the heat was too much for them earlier in the day (it’s been about 25C in the shade today)
This is concerning me as on my march beewalk, I counted 21 queens so was really expecting this to be a good year for them. I think it is largely due to the amount of cold weather and rain we’ve had that would have flooded a lot of nests and left other bees unable to get out and forage. The ground nesting species seem to be completely absent in my garden at the moment.
That and the lack of sunshine has resulted in plants putting on a lot of leafy growth and not many flowers.
Normally at this time of year my lamium and honeysuckle would attract the bees in but they’ve not flowered yet.
I have chives, honeysuckle, comfrey all on the verge of flowering so hopefully that should attract any bees in the area in and they can start building up their nests.
Hi all - it’s great to finally have a forum! :D
I’ve been at the Chelsea Flower Show today and the lack of bumblebees was scary. I saw 3 tiny bumblebees the whole time I was there, whereas in previous years the place has literally been buzzing.
This has been reflected in our garden also. We had lots of bumblebee activity from very early on in March this year, but 4 weeks of nearly solid rain coupled with a lot of high winds here in Bedfordshire must really have taken their toll on those bumblebees that had ventured out. We now have very, very few bumblebees around in the garden :(
On a more positive note there are lots of solitary bees out at the moment - seems they’re doing ok!
Let’s hope that things can pick up for the bumbles somehow…
Hi Everyone, isn’t this great to have a forum where we like mined people can talk about BB’s.
I know that this is a few days old now (Had a few problems with my activation code) but I also have noticed far far fewer BB’s than last year !!
I live in Dorset and saw my fist Buff Tailed on the 7th January….... However, with all the nice weather of the last week there’s hardly been anything about….... except Wasps…... There seem to be plenty of those about !!!!
I don’t suppose it helps that eveythimg in the garden is so late, this time last year the garden was a riot of colour….... Now the Foxgloves have only just started to come out and so far only a few Poppies.
Hopefully things will improve !
I think the early warm weather in March, woke the Queens and once they emerged, the weather turned cold, wet and windy. It was more or less cloudy here in Swindon for weeks on end and as a result all the usual flowering plants are very late.
The Queens had a really tough time and i had only seen the early bumblebee workers from mid April. No sign of any other workers at all. However, from about the 1st June i have seen, Lucorum, Terrestris, Hypnorum, oh and common Carders and the evil cuckoo bees too.
I haven’t seen any Lapidarius or Ruderarius at all this year yet.
Still the plants are not up to speed. My seed grown Snapdragons that have been in the greenhouse since February, don’t even have flower heads on them yet!!! The corn poppies are only just opening now and the Foxgloves have just opened too.
Of course this recent bad weather again is affecting the current bumble populations. The males suffering the most, especially in bad weather because they don’t have a home to go to. Being wet and trying to withstand 60mph winds for 48hrs would be hard enough for us let alone the tiny early bumble male.
Hmm, this question has been plaguing us too. Hubby and I live in Portsmouth, a coastal town, and love our 80 foot garden which backs onto a graveyard. We usually have a good buzz in our garden of flowers but so far it’s been very much quieter, with only a few bees seen. I’ve also found quite a few dead bees, which seem quite recently deceased, and we don’t have as many blooms this year - the white lilac was mostly leaves and what flowers we do have are dying out quickly. The choisya (Mexican Orange Blossom) was almost bald of flowers and other settled plants are lacking these vital energy sources. Hope this isn’t a sign of our future ...
I too have noticed very few buzzy bees this year which has saddened me greatly. For the past two years I have planted all kinds of bumblebee friendly plants in my small garden and my favourite plants have to be Scabious, Oregano, Cat Mint and of course Lavenders which bees truly love. I had lots of honeybees/bees of all types last year but this year have only one or two visitors. I dont know if it is the weather but it worries me. I even go to the trouble of checking the garden when it rains for stranded bees to put them safely in a pot of flowers sheltered by the rain when I find one!!! :( Has anyone else had the same in Bedfordshire or with their gardens?
Hi Buzzy Bee Sarah and welcome to the forum.
We do seem to have fewer bumble’s this year which is sad. I am very pleased to hear that you rescue stranded bees in the bad weather, you are a star! Well done for planting so many bumble friendly plants in your garden, every one helps them survive.
Keep up the good work.
Hi all / anyone !
A quick update to this thread.
I led a Bumblebee Walk for the local Wildlife Trust last Sunday - South Bucks area.
As part of the exercise we both watched and caught for closer observation a few BBs.
We found the best place for them was working Bramble flowers.
And in preparation I’d scouted the walk earlier in the week too - again few BBs.
I judge that the numbers of bumblebees is still well down on normal for the time of year.
In particular we saw no B. lapidarius at all.
We got several B terrestris, one hypnorum, one or two pascuorum, several hortorum (which seems to be present at better numbers than usual) and one pratorum drone.
I’ve seen no Cuckoo bees this year at all.
I did see one lapidarius queen on m scouting foray, so perhaps this species is still at the First Brood rearing stage still.
The Lavender plants are now flowering and are usually covered in BBs - but definitely not round here this year: just a small number of B terrestris/lucorum.
Does anybody else have any comments ?
I have found the same Clive. I did one of my Bee Walks a few weeks ago, and the weather conditions were fine - about 18 degrees, slightly overcast, and not much wind. I only saw TWO bumblebees, at a nature reserve site where I normally find 30+ bumblebees at this time of year. Truly depressing! I too have noted the lack of lapidarius (Red-tailed bumblebee), but I have seen plenty of cuckoos around in Scotland.
How is everyone else doing?
Total agreement with everyone else - I’m in Hertfordshire in the Chilterns and the numbers are definitely reduced - It’s complicated as we’ve just moved house so difficult to do a direct comparison - our new garden is what I shall call a blank slate! However, in the old garden and down at the allotment, far fewer bumblebees than I would expect, even on a massive patch of Phacelia, which is usually buzzing.
I’ve put it down to the 3 months of near-constant rain - the poor things must be struggling to get food this year. I hope this doesn’t lead to a massive population crash because that is really the last thing we need.
—edit to correct spelling of Phacelia—