Bumblebee queen using Kilmarnock willow as a B and B!! video

April 11, 2013

in A selection of my garden wildlife videos, Bumblebees and their ecology

“All my articles and videos, available free, are funded by my  teaching and sales of award winning bumblebee nest boxessolitary bee boxes,  and wormeries. Please help by spreading the word and forwarding this link to your friends and colleagues. http://nurturing-nature.co.uk  Thank you” George Pilkington


Bumblebee queen sleeping on kilmarnock willow catkins overnight

I often recommend Kilmarnock willow when talking or teaching about bees. It is a great spring resource for foraging bumblebee queens who need to feed up after hibernation and to ripen their ovaries prior to starting their colonies. It is also used by early emerging mining solitary bees as well as blue tits that eat the pollen. There are not that many flowers out at this time of the year and Kilmarnock willow is a compact, easily managed bumblebee bed and breakfast, snack bar for solitary bees and blue tits!

This queen (poss B.terrestris), I saw about 4pm on a sunny but chilly day and was filmed just after 10pm the same evening in the same position when it was even colder!


{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Kit Welchman April 11, 2013 at 9:02 am

Thanks , george, for the video.
Does it have to be Kilmarnock Willow, or will any willlow do? The new queens will need all they can get – none out her yet.


Karin Alton April 11, 2013 at 11:20 am

Willow is a great early source of pollen for all sorts of bees and hoverflies


nurturingnature April 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm

Hi Karin, I have owned several now and absolutely love them for their show, grace and catkins!Cheers George


nurturingnature April 11, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Hi Kit, I recommend Kilmarnock for gardens as it is a small pendulous/weeping tree that goes well in modern gardens. Any flowering willow will do. It is a native willow that is a variant of pussy willow or goat willow (Salix caprea) which in their natural form may not be suited for the average modern garden. It is grated onto a willow stem, and the height of the stem determines the height of the tree.Cheers George


Kit Welchman April 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm

Thanks, George.
Spotted one today (with helpful label in neighbour’s garden) – but still no bees, andIi don’t blame them. Not much for them yet- apart from the willows!
best wishes Kit


nurturingnature April 13, 2013 at 5:55 pm

Yes Kit, I fear it may turn out to be a bad bumble year..again! I have only seen the Kilmarnock sleeping beauty bee in my garden up to now 🙁 Hope you have better results! Cheers George


Kit Welchman April 14, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Thanks george.
P.S. At last! First bumbles seen today April 14, 2 flying fast over my small garden, towards nearby meadows – or possibly the Kilmarnock willow! I Couldn’t identify but one seemed a bit small for a terrestris. I was interested to learn about the dispersal of young queens on the Forum, and their speed of flight seemed to fit with this.
best wishes

Karin Alton April 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm

By the way, lovely website you have here. You have a lot in common with what we at FlowerScapes are trying to achieve, namely a love and connection with nature. It’d be a pleasure to work with you one day!
All the best, Karin


nurturingnature April 11, 2013 at 5:24 pm

Thats very nice of you to say so Karin and to re enforce my trying to get people to re connect with nature, I will shortly be releasing some new wildlife products I have designed that do exactly that! I am always looking for like minded people to communicate and even work with! Do you have a web site? Cheers George


Karin Alton April 14, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Yes, we do have a website http://www.flowerscapes.org.uk
Lovely to feel the sun again. Just seen all the hundreds of tadpoles hatch in our pond!
Best, Karin


marian morrison April 14, 2013 at 6:40 pm

Hi George – Great filming!! most enjoyable. Have been out buying plants with ‘bee’ picture on the labels, including a Kilmarnock willow with lots of catkins, so fingers crossed they will last for the bees. Keep seeing a queen bee hovering around the gaps in our dry stone wall. Still very much behind here no blossom on the apple tree yet, the buds on the wysteria are only just showing, very late this year. Please update when you start putting the cocoons out – don’t want them hatching out in husbands shed!!!. Best wishes – Marian


Bette Green May 3, 2013 at 7:49 pm

HI, please can you tell me if my Kilmarnock willow will produce leaves this year…..could it be late because of the bad frosts….worried. Bette Green


nurturingnature May 3, 2013 at 8:12 pm

Hi Bette, yes it wil, if all the branches flowered this year and are green in colour as opposed to brown. Brown is dead, green is alive! Mine is still in bud but they are coming through. It does flower before leaf bud, this year has been delayed. Cheers George


nurturingnature April 14, 2013 at 6:42 pm

Kit, Defo Kilmarnock it was headed for!! 🙂 cheers George


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