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World Bee Day, May and loveliest of seasons...

Date posted: Wednesday 20th May 2020

World Bee Day, May and loveliest of seasons...

It’s World Bee Day today! Let’s hear it for all the bees, bumble, honey, solitary and all those wonderful pollinators that keep us in fruit and vegetables! And good news for my partner, Jem who’s just got a call to say that his ‘NUC’, (a nucleus of bees, a queen and workers suitable for transferring to a proper hive) will be arriving next week in Windsor for him to collect. They’ll go into a hive on the allotments site, in the designated wildlife area – let’s hope they’re docile and well mannered bees! Jem was hoping to get them a couple of weeks ago, when the fruit tree blossom was so abundant, providing lots of forage but the consistently warm, dry weather has brought on so many flowers that there should be plenty of forage for the new hive residents.

Since lockdown everyone’s been commenting on the cleaner air, clearer skies, quiet streets and the wonderful sound of birdsong to be heard. More insects, butterflies, bees, beetles to be seen, although as yet no sheep wandering through Hampton Wick High Street! Peacocks, Orange tips, Brimstones, Small Tortoisehells, Large Whites have all been around my plot and a few days ago the first Cinnabar moths appeared.

This rose chafer beetle may have recently emerged; they have bad press as they do like to eat roses, but to see that zing of emerald jewelled coloured body is a delight:

‘The Rose chafer is a large, broad beetle that is found in grassland, scrub and along woodland edges. The adults feed on flowers, particularly Dog Roses, during the summer and autumn, and can be spotted in warm, sunny weather. The larvae feed on decaying leaves, plants and roots, living in the soil for several years as they develop. When they pupate, they hibernate in the soil or in rotting wood over winter, ready to emerge as adults the following spring.
The Rose chafer is metallic coppery-green with small, creamy-white streaks on its wing cases. It might be mistaken for the Noble Chafer, but this is a much rarer beetle associated with traditional orchards. The Rose chafer is often seen on flowers in the garden, and is sometimes considered a pest for munching its way through these plants. However, it is an important detritivore – feeding on dead and decaying matter and recycling its nutrients – and is a helpful addition to any compost heap.’ (

The roses are now coming into bloom and on my Margaret Merril the first cuckoo spit. Last week we went to Bookham Woods for an evening walk and we heard cuckoos – so wonderful. They’ve been heard recently in parts of the country where they’ve long been absent, suggesting maybe that the vile people in parts of Europe etc who shoot them as they fly in from Africa are also in lockdown (and long may they remain there!).

Around the pond the damselflies have been busy mating. No sign of any of the tadpoles hatched out earlier in April, possibly due to the arrival of a pair of mallards on the site who may have gobbled them all up..

And for the bees, an abundance of suitable flowers from the main groups that different bees can access with their various lengths of tongues: single open petal flowers (daisies, roses); tubular (lupins, foxgloves, lavender, nepata) and flat, multi-floret umbellifers (achillea, cow parsley, parsnip) – go on, plant some today and feed the bees!

I’ve been sending a poem a day to various WhatsApp groups and it’s been a delight to discover old and new works, especially nature poems that celebrate our wonderful natural world. Very sadly, the ornamental apple at the front entrance of the site is now dying, but here are two poems to remember it by:

Spring goeth all in white,
Crowned with milk-white may:
In fleecy flocks of light
O’er heaven the white clouds stray:

White butterflies in the air;
White daisies prank the ground:
The cherry and hoary pear
Scatter their snow around.
Robert Seymour Bridges
A white shower falls from the apple tree,
Good-bye good-bye, sweet May!
I will not mourn at beauty lost,
For there comes as fair a day;
But such a wealth of sweets is thine,
Such blooms of flower and spray,
We can but sigh that gaining June,
We still must lose our May.
Edith Willis Linn