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Blog & News

Bees Needs Week 2017

19th July 2017

The 17-23 July is Bees Needs Week, a national event to help raise awareness of bees and the vital role that they play in helping us grow food and plants. Our gardens are home to a number of bumblebee species, a fact that was recently highlighted in two surveys that were carried out in 2016 and 2017 by Joanne Carnell from University of Sussex.

Visual estimates in both surveys showed that our gardens hosted substantially more bumblebees and other pollinators than any other site surveyed in that time. Many queen bumblebees were seen in May last year, and by August a large quantity of young reproductive males and females were flying, demonstrating that many colonies had been successful. This pattern was recognised again in July 2017.

An unusual observation was the number of solitary bee species there were, something rarely seen in formal gardens. Our gardens are home to a wide range of plants as well as plenty of areas of undisturbed brick, hedgerow and long grass, which have helped a variety of species to thrive.

The high diversity and abundance of pollinators in our gardens at Parham were of particular interest to Joanne, who commented that our plant variety throughout the year provides an excellent food resource for the bees. However, she also noted that our nesting habitats and lack of man-made apiaries have kept the pollinator community refreshingly wild, meaning competitive honey bees have not dominated our gardens pushing out the more solitary species.

Bees play an invaluable part in the production of plants both in the wild and for consumption. Sadly, the number of bees in the wild is decreasing due to fewer wildflowers growing in the UK and an increase in the use of pesticides. We are proud that our beautiful gardens are helping to provide a sanctuary for so many species of bees and hope that the awareness raised through Bees Needs Week goes some way to restoring the bee population back to its former glory.

Bees observed here during 2016/2017:

 Bumblebee                                       Tongue Length   Popular Plants                                                                                                             
Buff-tailed bumblebee

(B.terrestris)

Short Aquilegia, scabious, Eryngium, cosmos, hemp agrimony, sunflowers, salvia ‘purple rain’, thalictrum
White-tailed bumblebee

(B.lucorum)

Short Aquilegia, scabious, Eryngium, cosmos, hemp agrimony, sunflowers, salvia ‘purple rain’, thalictrum
Red-tailed bumblebee

(B.lapidarius)

Short Alliums, cranesbills, catmint, rudbeckia, white clover
Garden bumblebee

(B.hortorum)

Long Catmint, bee balm
Common carder bee

(B.pascuorum)

Long Catmint, vipers bugloss, hyssop, rudbeckia, bee balm, giant scabious, white clover