It's high summer, though you wouldn't believe it. Andrew rushed in from peeing on the compost heap earlier yelling that it was steaming! This wasn't an after effect of curry on Andrew but a worrying trend over the last few days, the temperatures are dipping enough to start scorching at the edge of some of the more sensitive plants in the garden. The pumpkins are positively sulking and Andrew's flies have been nowhere near them. We forget that us gardeners may be struggling to grow in the North this year - for the Government who are unaware where the North is, look for people who tell you to bog off when you tell them that you're from the Government. Then lad, you'll know your in the North - but the bees are struggling too and they like the North.
When we had to move our strawberries and chives we did so with a heavy heart. The bees around here loved them but the strawberries were spent and the chives were congested and though we moved them we made plans by ramping up the cottage garden. We have been for many years, a bee friendly garden and that means we only ever employ real blooms in our garden. Flowers that just yell, pollinate me. There's no fancy double blooms, well truth be told we have a blousy paeony and some rather awkward roses but on the whole the entire garden is single, open blooms and this has paid us back a thousand fold but cold summers mean cold bees. Therefore, this week we were excited to see so many bees dancing over the blackberry blossom.
It's been the first sign of bees in large numbers we've had all summer, the butterflies have been very thin on the ground and the bees have been largely slow. We have seen more dead bees than flying bees. That is a sad sight but bees are under threat. A cold summer means the bees aren't about as much and this is reflected in a lack of pollination in the vegetable patch. We have actually started to pollinate the runner beans with a soft brush as so few have been pollinated. Very few visited the new strawberry patch and this has resulted in some humorous but distorted fruits. A strawberry flower has to be visited by bees several times for the fruit to be successful. This is a worrying foreshadowing of what may come.
So, try and do your bit for bees. Between us, disease and global warming, wild bees are on the verge of extinction. Several varieties in the UK are already gone because of our drive towards industrialization and pollution. The Cullem’s bumblebee (Bombus cullumanus) was last recorded in 1941 and hasn't been seen since. The Short-haired bumblebee (Bombus subterraneus) was last recorded in 1988 (this information was taken from Bumblebee Conservation). Bees are not your enemy, they're not here to sting you or make you run screaming from your picnic. Grow up and realise this, no bees = no humans. It is the smallest things in nature we should protect, so stop smacking them and teach your kids to love them. Go out as a family, as a couple, as a proud singleton and purchase some nectar rich plants (they have a bee friendly sticker on them nowadays to help you), try some comfrey or daisies in your life, a single bloom in a pot by the backdoor, a hanging basket of strawberries and if you have the space, forty feet of blackberries on a fence won't harm you or the bees. The bees will get the nectar and you will get the fruit. Win. Win. You will come to appreciate the sound of bees on a summer's day over the sound of cars and you will stand there, inches from the bees, watching them crawl and dance over every flower, bumbling their way into the air and making you feel that you did good.
If you're sat there thinking, 'I can't do anything' then you're wrong, we can all do something, we can all make a difference because the alternative will lead to our extinction.