Royal Paddocks Allotments website masthead
email icon

Any comments, ideas or suggestions for what you’d like to see on the website? Please email us.

Queen bumble and honey bees, mistle thrushes and spruced robin!

Date posted: Tuesday 19th February 2019

Queen bumble and honey bees, mistle thrushes and spruced robin!

A welcome day of mild spring-like sun brought out the bees to the early flowers. I watched as this queen bumble bee lurched and crawled over the delicate crocus flowers, like a large fuzzy bear, spotted with pollen and grabbing for the next precarious claw hold. She crawled slowly over the petals and into the flower base, clinging on like a very overweight acrobat learning the ropes! In contrast the honeybee flew in and off with the alacrity of a busy worker.

This queen was following the lifecycle: “when rising temperatures awaken a queen bumblebee that has been hibernating alone in the soil. The queen will have spent the entire winter underground, using up reserves of energy stored as fat in her body. When she first emerges, she feeds on flowers, drinking nectar to gain energy. She will then begin to search for a suitable nest site. Frequent nesting sites include holes in the ground, tussocky grass, bird boxes and under garden sheds.” (Bumblebee Conservation Trust).

Flora and I have been thrilled to see this pair of mistle thrushes foraging and fossicking for invertebrates on adjoining plots over the past few days. Not the best of photos but I didn’t want to disturb their activities by moving closer to get a better snap!

“Mistle Thrushes are familiar garden birds, either seen alone, in pairs or in family groups, Often seen in the open, they are rather more boisterous than the Song Thrush. Longer flights tend to involve an undulating action as the bird closes its wings briefly between some wing beats. Mistle Thrush nests are large and untidy, sometimes including odd materials such as waste paper and plastic. Many nests are built in late February, with a typical site in woodland being 30ft up on the top of a snapped-off tree. Each pair raises two or occasionally three broods and they may sometimes use the same nest. The nests can be very well concealed and each has a mud layer sandwiched between the ragged outside finish and the ample inside lining of fine grasses. One of the most interesting behaviours displayed by Mistle Thrushes in gardens is resource guarding. This is when one or sometimes two birds defend a food source, such as a holly or yew. This is defended against all-comers, the vigilant bird trying to ensure that food resources are maintained for itself throughout the winter. It has been shown that resource guarding birds have bigger and earlier clutches than birds that do not do it.” (BTO).

Mistle thrushes and robins have been enchanting us with their songs around our site recently and it’s a joy to hear them as we go about our tidying, weeding, mulching and making dead hedges. The mistle thrushes sing from the mature trees alongside the allotment edges while the robins swoop in close for worm opportunities. This one was busy sprucing up, in readiness for the oncoming mating season perhaps!