Plant Preferences

Nepeta is the winner by far, despite the competition from the cats! The runners up are Buddleia ‘White Mrs Keep’, Buddleia ‘Adonis Blue’ and Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Lavendelturm’. My apple mint (Mentha suaveolens) has just started to flower. It can grow over three feet tall, and I always allow some clumps of it to flower because bees and hoverflies seem to love it so much.

Of course, as preparation for honey bees, buying and planting a huge array of different plants is a bit counterproductive really. Honey bees are a bit like some of the people who appear on Freaky Eaters, they go for one foodstuff and then refuse anything else. Once an individual bee has been persuaded by a colony mate to go for one particular species, that bee will only go for that plant. If supplies run out it will apparently, – unless it is very young, and flying workers only live for about three weeks any way – starve rather than go to a different plant.

Bumblebees however like a bit more variety in their diet, and they seem to have a go at whatever’s available. This sounds like a much more sensible way of doing things; I can’t think of any evolutionary reason why sticking to one plant species for life would be a benefit. Within the colony they might feed on a variety, so perhaps individual specialisation has a benefit for the whole, but I can’t think of one!

Cursed by Bees

I have a sneaking feeling that somthing is out to stop me keeping bees. Last week I had a phone call from a lovely lady from the North Bucks Beekeepers, assuring me that they would be at MK’s Discovery Centre on Sunday. On Sunday I was just about to set off when the phone rang. It was the lady to tell me that although she and other volunteers had gone to the Discovery Centre, the event hadn’t been publicised, and was expected to be very quiet. As they had been there the previous week (but earlier than I’d thought they were supposed to be there), they turned round and went home.
I seem to remember about 11 years ago, when I first thought about keeping bees, I saw a course advertised at Bradwell Abbey and it was going to begin that evening. I wrote down the details so I could get in touch when I got home and then got smashed up in a car crash on the way home, thus rendering me in a less that fit state to attend! Maybe the bees are trying to tell me something!