At the start of spring queen bumblebees emerge from hibernation to feed on pollen and nectar from early flowering plants. Larger and hairier than other bees, bumblebees are better adapted to cold weather so the first spring bee you see if probably a queen bumblebee. She searches for a dry cavity to build a nest; a vole hole, the base of a grass tussock, gaps within a chest tomb or beneath graves kerbs. A thimble-sized waxen pot is filled with pollen, nectar and eggs and the summer cycle begins.
Bumblebees are social insects living in nests of up to 400 individuals. Unlike honeybees they do not swarm, only the queen can sting, and a nest only lasts one season. There are 24 species of bumblebee in the UK but only eight are common so if you want to try your hand at biological recording this is a good place to start and please send us your records.
Churchyards are great for bumblebees in the spring as so many have an array of spring bulbs and other flowers. Amongst your planted bulbs look out for the shiny yellow flowers of the native Lesser Celandine. If you have flowerbeds, then try to include plants which will flower at the start of the season and also in autumn. This gives a welcome food source the queen bees when they stock up for hibernation and first emerge hungry! Have a look at our Action Pack sheet B5, Bumblebees & Other Bees, Wasps and Ants for more information.
All the best
Diocesan Churchyard Environmental Advisor, email@example.comIn
www.caringforgodsacre.org.uk - individuals and groups in the diocese receive 20% members discount on all CfGA materials. Use the discount code Lich19