'Bee neighbourly'

Whenever I'm out in the garden I always feel the need to be doing something, pulling up bindweed, watering pots, rescuing a plant in the greenhouse from heat stroke, I do find it difficult to just sit.

But I must do try harder because it's in those quiet, still moments when we're just being not doing, that we actually appreciate just how much other activity there is. When we stop being busy ourselves and take notice of what's going on around us it's remarkable how industrious animals are and none more so it seems to me than the wild bees. They have to be I suppose to cram their life's work into just a few short weeks.

I'm paying more attention this year because I have a brilliant bee identification chart so now I can put names to them. Some which I'd always assumed to be just smaller bumble bees are actually solitary ones which as their names suggest don't live in colonies but lay their eggs in individual holes in walls, or in the ground like the tawny mining bees which I watched in the spring disappearing down cracks in the lawn's bare patches. They are the little ginger furry ones, white bottomed ones with the fluffy boleros I've discovered to be tree bumble bees and the black ones with bright orange bums are red tailed bumble bees. There are several with yellow stripes, but they'll have to slow down a bit before I can be confident enough to know whether I'm seeing a buff tailed or a white tailed or even a garden bumble bee!

I always feel much more of an affinity with something when I know what it's called, like being on first name terms with the neighbours, the more I know about the bees which share my garden with me the less likely I am to do something to upset them and just like any good neighbours we help each other out. I leave my lawn uncut so they have big patches of clover, birds foot trefoil and bush vetch in which to forage and from the densely packed fruit along the branches of the plum trees they were very busy pollinating for me this spring.
A very fair exchange, I do hope we stay on good terms now the runner beans are in flower!