|Have you seen your first bumblebees of the year? If so, did you know that you were in the presence of ‘royalty’?|
Kicked into action by the rise in temperature on a sunny day, queen bumblebees begin to emerge from their underground winter hibernation. Equipped with almost everything she needs to start a new colony, she must first find some high-energy nectar. This gives her the boost she needs to search for a suitable nesting site. Bumblebees can nest in holes in the ground, under a shed or even in a bird box.
Once a nesting site has been found, she’ll then begin to collect pollen and nectar. The queen secretes wax combining it with pollen to build a mound on which to lay her eggs. She’ll also build a cup out of wax that she fills with nectar to sustain her for several days as she sits on her eggs, vibrating to keep her and her eggs warm. Eventually when the larvae hatch, the queen will leave the nest again to collect more pollen and nectar to feed them. These initial larvae are all female. After roughly two weeks the female larvae will spin themselves into a cocoon where they develop into worker bumblebees.
March is a busy time of year for our queen bumblebees and continues as she builds her colony into the summer, eventually producing new queens and males. This is why it’s so important to have flowering plants and wildflowers from the queen’s emergence in March, right through until the next generation of queens are fattening up to hibernate in October.
| Our pollinators are important When bees and other insects visit flowers looking for pollen and nectar for themselves, they often help the plants to reproduce by transferring pollen between flowers.|
This reproduction by pollinators is needed to create a number of the fruit and vegetables we eat. Did you know we have pollinators to thank for every third mouthful we eat? Not only do they pollinate our food crops, but they also support so many other plants and animals.
Since the 1960s, we have lost 99% of our wildflower meadows in our region. This is alarmingly more than the UK’s already high average of 95%. It’s perhaps no surprise that nationally we’ve also lost at least 50% of our insects over the past 50 years. 41% of the Earth’s remaining five million insect species are now ‘threatened with extinction’.
Without pollinators, the natural world and our life within it would not be what it is today
| Five simple actions Here are five simple actions to help pollinators.|
Plant for pollinators: Grow more nectar-rich flowers, shrubs and trees to provide food throughout the year.
Let your garden grow wild: Leaving patches of land to grow wild let wildflowers grow and make great nesting and feeding sites.
Put away the pesticide: They can harm pollinators and many other beneficial invertebrates. Consider alternatives and only use pesticides as a last resort.
Leave the lawnmower: Cut your grass less often, and remove cuttings to let plants flower.
Build a bee hotel and avoid disturbing or destroying nesting or hibernating insects in grass margins, bare soil, hedgerows, trees, dead wood or walls.
| How we’re helping Every day, Cheshire Wildlife Trust work to save, protect and stand up for the wildlife and wild places across Cheshire, Halton, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Warrington and Wirral. |
As part of our work to bring wildlife back, we’re committed to restoring 100 hectares of species-rich grassland before 2026. That’s almost 160 football pitches of extra food and shelter for our bees, butterflies and beetles. We’re more than half way, but there’s still a lot to do.
You can buy bee seeds from my shop too: Bee Seeds