Posted by: Ross Gardner | March 8, 2015

So, how does pollination happen again?

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (queen).  Copyright 2015 Ross Gardner.

Buff-tailed Bumblebee (queen). Copyright 2015 Ross Gardner.

The above, I think, would provide ample reminder to the rhetorical question in the title.  The queens of several species will be well and truly stirred from hibernation, certainly by the beginning of March, perhaps earlier if suitably mild.  Having said that, I have seen bumblebees active in late winter in temperatures as low as 9° C.  Those first, real days of spring can therefore bring many a bee out into the open.

Before scouring the landscape for suitable nesting sites, which for the likes of the Buff-tailed (among some others) will tend to be underground, they must replenish energy reserves, ready to bring forth the first crop of workers for the impending colony; they would have already mated at the end of the previous summer.  With flowers still thin on the ground, the likes of garden crocuses (although those above have been planted in a town park) provide a eagerly exploited early source of pollen and nectar.  For countryside bumblebees, perhaps without a access to a wealth of ornamental flowers, the catkins of goat willow are crucial.

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