bumblebee factsheet.indd - Staffordshire Wildlife Trust

Staffordshire Wildlife Trust
©Gillian Day
Bumblebees are insects of temperate climates. Quite different
Bombus lapidarius - another large bee which likes to land on
from honey bees and solitary bees, they live in small colonies
flowers with horizontal massed ’platforms’ e.g. Daisy family,
of up to 200-300 and with their densely furry bodies can be
especially Knapweeds.
active even in dull conditions. They are constantly busy in the
garden, foraging for nectar and pollen, helping to pollinate
Bombus pratorum - small agile size and medium-length
flowers as they do so.
tongue means it can probe a range of flower depths; able to
visit upside-down and drooping flowers such as Comfrey and
Up to 25 species of bumblebee live in the UK. Many are found
only in habitats such as moorland or in coastal areas; only 6
or 7 species are widespread and visit gardens. There are also 6
Bombus pascuorum - long-tongued for long-tubed flowers,
species of ’cuckoo’ bumblebees, that mimic other species and
especially late flowers of White deadnettle, but also visits a
take over their nests.
wide variety of flowers. Male bees seem to visit compound
daisy-like flowers (e.g Marsh Thistle) more than females.
become extinct in this country, and many more have suffered
a marked decline.
This factsheet suggests flowers and planting schemes to
attract bumblebees, and shows how you can make special
homes for them in your garden.
Planting for bees
30 plants popular with bu mblebees
Betony, Bugle, Alkanet, Comfrey, Clovers, Buddleia, Field
Early and late flowers, together with some bee favourites,
bean, Foxglove, Knapweed, Thistles, Lavender, Viper’s
will give a long supply of nectar. Planting in dense drifts; bees
Bugloss, Verbascums, Woundworts, White deadnettle,
learn to recognise certain nectar - rewarding flowers and
Chives, Borage, Single larkspurs, Nasturium, Rosemary,
will revisit these repeatedly. Some bees have preferences for
Catmint, Toadflax, Figwort, Marjoram, Curry plant,
certain flower forms:
Snapdragon, Sage and mints, Cranesbills, Agastache.
Bombus terrestris and Bombus lucorum - Short open flowers
Early flowers
e.g White Clover, Comfrey, Field Bean. Both are hole-biting
Bluebells, Primrose, Dandelion, White deadnettle, Aubretia,
’nectar robbers’ (see below.) B. terrestris rarely visit pendulous
Wallflower, Single crocus, Flowering currant, Hazel, Forget-
flowers - its large size means it is often not agile enough to so.
me-not, Pussy willow, Winter heather.
Bombus hortorum - has a long tongue so can visit flowers
Late flowers
with petals forming long tubes such as Honeysuckle,
Delphiniums and Catmint.
Michaelmas daisies, Ivy, Buddleia, Goldenrod, Sedum,
Lavender, Escallonia, Echinacea, Ceanothus, Red valerian.
© Jon Hawkins - Surrey Hills Photography
In the last 30 years, two bumblebee species are known to have
© Alan Wright
Making a bumblebee nest
for the garden
Bombus horortum
‘Garden’ bumblebee. White-tailed, with extra yellow
stripe on it’s abdomen. Medium sized. Flying May –
Bombus lucorum
White-tailed with no extra yellow stripe. Medium
sized. Flying from April – September.
• Build a 100 mm x 100 mm x 200 mm box with a lid, from
Bombus lapidaries
wood. Cut an entrance hole at the bottom of the box. By the
Red-tailed bumblebee. All black body with red tail.
end of April, dig a hole in a dry, well drained spot and place
BIG! Flying from April – September.
the box inside.
Bombus pratorum
• Force a rod or pipe (25-30 mm wide) into the ground so that it
Yellow striped with orange-red tail. Small sized.
meets up with the entrance hole.
Flying from April – August.
• Place bedding material such as dry grass, straw, or
Bombus ruderarius
upholsterer’s cotton (but not cotton wool) in the box, close the
All black body with red tail and red hair fringing hind
lid and cover over with e.g turf, logs or a paving stone.
legs. Small sized. Flying from April – September.
• Plant a 10 cm tall stick upright nearby as a ’marking post’ to
help bees find their way back to the nest.
Bombus pascuorum
‘Carder’ bee. No stripes, usually all brown, but quite
variable. Small sized and late flying June – October.
• By the end of April, half bury a 9”/225 mm deep clay
flowerpot in a dry, well drained, sheltered, sunny flowerbed
Living Landscape
or hedge bottom so that the drainage hole in the base faces
A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature, championed
• Attach a short 5-6 cm length of hosepipe (25-30 mm wide) to
by The Wildlife Trusts since 2006. It is a new way of thinking
the drainage hole.
about how we manage land to do more for wildlife, people
• Add some bedding material such as pets’ bedding, dry grass,
and the economy.
straw, or upholsterer’s cotton (not cotton wool.)
• Cover over the rest of the pot with soil or vegetation so that
Our gardens represent a vast living landscape; and with an
the pipe sticks out.
estimated 16 million gardens in the UK, the way they are
• Plant a 10 cm tall stick upright nearby - bees may use this as
managed can made a big difference to wildlife.
a ’marking post’ to help them find their way back to the
Across gardens and beyond, our vision to create A Living
Landscape involves enlarging, improving and joining-up areas
Seven species you might meet in
the garden
©Penny Frith
of wildlife-rich land in all parts of the UK. There are now over
100 inspirational Living Landscape schemes around the UK,
rich in opportunities for sustainability, learning, better health
Bombus terrestris
and wellbeing.
Buff-tailed bumblebee. ‘Tail’ quite variable white-
What is good for wildlife is good for people too.
yellow. BIG! Flying from June – October.
For more information go to www.wildlifetrusts.org
© Dr Malcolm Storey
©Penny Frith
Registered charity no 259558 Limited company no 959609 www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk 01889 880100
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