A wonderful cacophony of low vibrational hums closes in across the fen as large, hairy, bodies supported by tiny, glinting wings appear to defy gravity. Foraging for food, the orchestrated melody of the ever busy bumblebees fill the air. Once abundant everywhere, they heralded in both spring and summer. But what happens when mornings turn crisp and cool on the breath, when days are short and nights longer? The time when many animals and trees are starting to preserve their energy in preparation for the coming months ahead?
Open the lid on Autumns’ rich kaleidoscope of colours and discover that for some bumblebees, this time of year brings with it new hope for the following spring. An important time for mated females (new Queens) to seek out shelter from the cold, lower their metabolism and become dormant until next year.
When environmental factors such as temperature, light and weather conditions are favourable the insect alarm clock indicates that spring is here. However, with the odd day of mild weather in the winter some insects cannot hit the snooze button . Instead, fooled into thinking it is spring, they emerge, using their remaining energy reserves for foraging (building themselves up again to produce offspring or to return back to bed).
Sharp fluctuations in temperatures coupled with scarce food resources can be fatal roller-coaster and may be a contributing factor on the abundance of bumblebees and other important insects.
Pollinating and working hard throughout the year to ensure food is available for us all year round, bees and their allies surely deserve to have survival resources made available for them?
- Using any available space to plant nectar rich meals will be a life line. Even balconies and window boxes can save lives. Slap up menu ideas include Evergreen Barberry (Berberis stanophylla) for entrees, followed by succulent Winter Honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima) with a side order of Ivy (Hedera spp.) and for dessert, a nice generous helping of winter flowering heather(Erica carnea) and Mahonia spp.
- Leaving deadheading until spring may help to create warm, snug duvets for smaller insects.
- Treat your pond dwellers by leaving those nutrient rich feast of fallen leaves for them to recycle naturally.
- Make a static log pile and enjoy tenants such as toads and hedgehogs looking for a cosy spot this time of year, whilst in the warmer months, watch as squatters settle into these ready made insect hotels.
Next spring, sit back and enjoy as new musicians queue up to joining you and your own spectacular orchestra!