An article in The Times today caught my eye and echoed what I said a week or two ago in a post. Professor Elli Leadbeater of Royal Holloway University found that cities are now becoming 'hotspots' for honey bees. As has been said before it is really important that field margins are planted with wild flowers to encourage honey bees to forage 'in the wild'.
The trouble is that in areas like The Yorkshire Dales the fields are still mostly bordered by dry stone walls which have often delineated the fields for centuries. The land is mostly grassland and grazed by sheep and the fields are small. Any possibility of bordering them with wild flowers would be impossible as it would make the fields impossibly small.
Of course above these fields are the fells and they are mostly covered with heather - so that for maybe two or three weeks we have a good - and colourful - crop of heather which honey bees love. But it is the rest of the year we have to think about. And in any case this is dependent upon there being a good crop of wild heather - and that is not always guaranteed.
Then we have the bees who go out from colonies, find somewhere to forage and return to the hives to do their waggle dance, telling the hive where to forage. And here is where the town and city gardens now come into their own. As wild flowers disappear from the fields so garden flowers appear more and more in town and city gardens. Apparently is is even more true for varieties of bumble bees. I have certainly noticed it here in what is an under four thousand population market town. I literally have not seen a honey bee to speak of all summer but my goodness me, have I seen some bumble bees.
If you want to learn more about Bumble Bees you could do worse than go to Simon Douglas Thompson 's (on my side bar) 'Careering through Nature' where, over the Summer some of his photographs of Natural History subjects have been spectacular.
After an absolutely miserable wet day yesterday it is warm and sunny and a pleasure to be out to today. I have already been round the block once with Priscilla and will try and go around again before the day is out. And I will keep my eye out for bees.
And while we are on the subject - congratulations to my friends S and T who won a third prize with their dark honey yesterday. Which proves there are still honey bees about - but the trouble is that I understand they are having to forage further afield. I don't know what the answer is. Does anyone reading this?