A Box of Bees and more…

It’s been quite busy in the Garden this last two weeks. At last some Bumble bees are out and about. Busiest have been the tiny Early Bumblebee (Bombus pratorum) workers. They have been everywhere on every flower they can manage.  A patch of phacelia has just come into flower and because they are so small they find it very difficult to navigate the spiky stamens and have to adopt a head first, dive in strategy. Bigger bees have no problems.

A tiny Early Bumblebee worker contemplating a tricky landing through the long stamens of the phacelia. It is so attractive to them that they don’t give up easily


Head first, in-between the spikes.

This bigger heavier Carder bee (Bombus pascuorum) easily accessing the nectar of this lovely green manure plant which seeded down from last year.

And there are other bumble bees too:

A Garden Bumblebee (B hortorum) worker on the hardy geraniums


A Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) on the cotoneaster

A Box of Red Tailed Bumblebees

Just over a week ago now my very kind friend Matthew arrived at the door with a large buzzing plastic bag containing a tiny new Bombus lapidarius nest complete with about 10 cells 6 little workers and the magnificent Queen.
Matthew had been asked to move the nest and not wanting to destroy it asked if I could look after it. You bet!

red tailed nest

The nest in the new box with some extra dried grass.  You can see the large beautiful Queen at the top. They were very busy attending to the cells and so not too concerned about me and the camera. I think things might be different now!

So the nest and its few occupants have been (rather gingerly) transferred to a box which I hope will allow for a reasonable size colony and added to the bee house. It’s above the ground and hopefully out of the reach of mice.
I am very glad to report that there seems to be quite a bit of coming and going and at last the chive flowers which have been out for ages are getting some attention.

redtailed bg

Little red tailed worker on the chives, The flame red colour of these new bees in simply stunning.

Anyway I have given them the best chance I can. They have flowers, shelter and someone looking out for them.

And not forgetting the solitary bees…. The mason bees have been filling up holes in the bee house and everywhere else. The Hairy Footed flower bees are, I think all done. Their strawberry pot home now filled up for the second year. Here is a lovely little solitary mining bee which my bee guru Andrew thinks may be Andrena chrysosceles.


You can see how tiny it is by my thumb to the left. She stayed put very obligingly for a couple of photos.

And, joy of joys, at Easton last week, the so very chic female Grey Mining bee, Andrena cineraria with elegant black and white hairs on her thorax and glossy black abdomen. A little film star of the wild bee world.

From a sunny day last week at Easton, not the best photo in the world but lovely to see her.

I hope all your bees are buzzing and things warming up for summer and, yes,  I have been working as well as bee watching…honestly…more of that soon…

“BUZZ” at Easton, “Art Plantae” Guest Artist and at last! ..a Grey Mining Bee.

I am busy getting ready to take my “Buzz” exhibition and 2 days of Workshops to the lovely Easton Walled Gardens next week. We are keeping our fingers crossed for dry weather :).

Easton Walled Gardens Jubilee Meadow Days; June 3rd & 4th
Celebrating the diversity of our traditional countryside and meadows.

meadow days

I am delighted to be part of their Jubilee Meadow Days Celebration which is running on Sunday 3rd and Monday 4th of June. T

here will be lots happening with plant stalls, an observation bee hive, moth spotting, an owl display, Morris dancing, and of course the beautiful gardens and the great cafe to enjoy.
I will be taking bee walks a couple of times a day and will be there to chat to people about bees, art and life. For full details check on the Easton Walled Gardens website HERE.


Nature Journal Workshops at Easton Walled Gardens, June 7th and 8th

Come and explore Bugs, Beasts and Botanicals with me from 10.00-4.00 on June 7th and 8th. £20 per day. For more details see HERE.
To book please contact Live and Learn on 01780 720714 Art Plantae Guest Artist for June … (thats me!)



Starting on Friday I am honoured to be the guest artist for June on the excellent website Art Plantae.

I am giving a brief introductory interview on Friday and then later in June, when the USA celebrates National Pollinator Week June 18-24,

I will be answering questions about my work, both the paintings and my efforts to try to help people understand and appreciate more about our wild bees and pollinators through my paintings.

The header for the site will feature a detail from my painting of Bombus hortorum and honeysuckle. I chose this one because it illustrates
an interesting aspect of the bee/flower relationship.
This long tongued bee is able to access the nectar of deep flowers, while other short tongued bees must bite a hole in the base of the flower to access the nectar that way. “Nectar robbing” is good for bees but not so good for the flower as it does not get pollinated, but honeysuckle seems to manage to survive.

B hort blog

I have subscribed to Art Plantae since its first days and it is a really fabulous resource for all things botanical, education and artistic and covers a wide range of styles and interpretations.

I am so very pleased to be able to contribute and share my enthusiasm and to hopefully get the bee message out to even more people. I had to stress that I am not a botanical or scientific artist. The “Buzz” paintings and the show have just grown out my fascination with, and concern for our bees.

But I do know that paintings can engage peoples attention and fascination sometimes more than photographs. A painting can simplify and illuminate and hopefully in the bees case, charm. I also know from all the emails, visitor comments and general enthusiasm at the shows that I am in a small way successful!
I guarantee that after five minutes with me you will share my affection and admiration for our little winged friends and will be rushing back to your garden or window box to plant some more flowers for them!

The Grey Mining Bee At last!.. on a walk by the reservoir yesterday I spotted some beautiful Andrena cineraria, the glamorous Grey Mining Bees I was feeling bereft as it seemed as though every one, except me, had seen them and I was wondering if they were just not suited to this habitat. But hurrah!!…a couple were feeding on some marginal rape flowers,

And then further along the waterside path, on a sunny bank much loved by rabbits and other mining bees, I saw one female starting to dig a hole under a sprig of bramble.
I watched her for a short time, first scouting around for a suitable spot, then digging, then disappearing, then re-emerging. Such hard labour!.. but such a pretty bee with her ruff of silvery hair. I have painted her twice. Here she is digging.. you can just see her glossy blue black tail disappearing. In…and…………

out…showing the fine silvery hairs on her face and thorax.

Go to the excellently re-designed BWARS website HERE to learn more about this lovely bee. Join me at Easton Walled Gardens or on Art Plantae if you can!