Bumblebee queens need early spring flowers near their nests

April 21, 2015

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

Flowers as used by Bumblebee queens in early spring 

Early spring flowers literally is the life blood for bumblebee queens and their colonies for newly emerged hibernating queens. The flowers can be crucial to the success or failure of their lives. The establishment of bumblebee colonies is dependent on adequate supplies growing near her nest. When she makes her nest site choice, many of the plants growing nearby may well not be flowering yet. On days with inclement weather and at a critical time for her eggs or larvae, she may have to stay inside the nest and not venture out. She needs a small supply inside her nest for herself and her larvae. They longer she is away from this bounty, the more likelihood it is to be raided by predators. The longer she herself is open to being injured killed or eaten.

Bumblebee queen on willow

Quite simply, no flowers for queens = no food = no bumblebees later! So plant more flowers for the queens in your gardens, some of which are shown below. They do not care whether it is a native plant or a non native one. Its the pollen and nectar they need and if a plant provides it thats all that matters to them! Please consider planting these plants or leaving them to flower in the case of dandelions. Our bumblebee queens need them! Hence so do we!!

Taken of queen bumblebees foraging in March/April and an update of an article I wrote 2012 Bumblebee queens feeding upon early flowers which used photographs. There are 15 flowers in the video.


Recommended reading.
There are numerous books and web sites with information about bumblebee ecology, such as what flowers queen bumblebees will use at this critical time of the year for them. Quite simply, without the forage plants, bees will not survive hence:
“Plants for bees: A guide to the plants that benefit the bees of the British Isles” by W.D.J. Kirk and F.N. Howes.– Excellent updated book, covers wild and honey bees, with lavish photographs, written by experts.
“Garden Plants valuable to bees” by International Bee Research Association – much cheaper, essentially a plant list, written by experts, no photographs!

Read more articles about bumblebees.

Award winning Nest box designed to protect bumblebees from many pests and to provide them with a suitable nesting environment which allows safe viewing, as does my newly designed solitary bee box. Great for schools.

Help save bumblebees join the Bumblebee Conservation Trust at Stirling University.

Photo of Queen feeding upon a willow in 2012  Roy & Marie with thanks!

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Elaine Hutchings April 21, 2015 at 2:59 pm

I’ve got quite a few of the plants in the video on my allotment. Glad to know that I’m helping the bees in some small way.


nurturingnature April 21, 2015 at 9:56 pm

Hi Elaine,
Well done! Thats great, although you really do underestimate how important the right flowers are to queens so it certainly is not helping bees in a small way!! Exactly the opposite! Cheers, George


Ann Spencer-Wyatt April 21, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Great video George, feeling really pleased with myself


Marian April 21, 2015 at 9:11 pm

Many of these plants in our garden george. Great video


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