Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience

The Humble Bumble

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Bumble bees are the best aren’t they? Not least because there are species whose Latin name begins with Bombus (never fails to make me laugh out loud). I had a lovely Bombus moment the other day whilst walking towards Lowany field where many of our pigges are at the moment. I saw not one, not two, but three different Bombus, all lines up on three different plants like pretty maids all in a row.

We had a buff tailed Bombus, and red tailed Bombus and a white tailed bombus (photos do not reflect the size of the bees J )

red-tailed white-tailed buff-tailed

They were all feeding on big pink flowers which I think are campions, but I’ll let you know on that one. It gladdens my heart to see bumble bees out and about, the ‘plight of the bumble bee’ is something close to all of us natural history geeks, and as agricultural practices continue to become more about food and less about anything else, the habitat and food sources available for bumble bees have meant that their numbers in this country have declined dramatically. It’s a real shame; without bees there will be no food. Bees are one of it not THE key pollinator in the United Kingdom, and the chance of complete ecological melt down should the bees disappear is very high.

We have 24 species of bumblebee in the UK, but only 8 can be classed as common. These three are in that group. In fact, you can’t always tell between a white tail and a buff tail. Only the queen bee has a tail that is this dirty white colour; what she was doing out and about I’m not sure, although queens will forage on occasion if the colony is stabilised. This is a good thing, Church farm has a happy healthy bumble bee colony! As a mixed farm which grows and rears to organic standards, there are a number of wild flower strips and weedy areas where the bees can thrive.

With their clumsy bumbling (no pun intended) flight and large hairy bodies, I can see why bumble bees scare some people. I’m not a big fan of careering buzzing things myself. But these insects really are a charm to watch, and they really aren’t aggressive. If a bumble bee uses its sting, it will perish, and so they are really reluctant to bother. And, they do need our help. Please keep supporting Church Farm, and help us help the bees by providing them with the food and shelter that they need. In turn, the bees will help us make our own food; Rik opens the poly tunnels every day to encourage pollinators to come in and pollinate the plants, and the kitchen garden is an amazing bee trap. Without the bees, our crops would be far less in number, and no one wants that do they. Imagine, a world without Church Farm Strawberries! It doesn’t bear thinking of…

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