Wednesday, 27 March 2024 13:32

Look at the stamens on that!

(see photos by clicking the above link on my @pollinatorandwaterlifeproject - a nature diary of the Adlington Pollinator and Waterlife Project.)

Look at the stamens, pistil and petals on that! The close up beauty of Blackthorn blossom on the Adlington Pollinator Project.

A detailed study into the colony survival of two bumblebee species, the buff tailed and carder, has shown the value of certain early spring flowers for the ‘hungry gap’ of March and April when hungry larvae need feeding.

The study by the universities of Oxford and Exeter showed that colony survival can increase from 35 to 100 percent by the availability of hawthorn, field maple, native cherry and willow in hedgerows with great value from red dead nettle and ground ivy flowering at the base. Blackthorn was fine, but didn’t provide pollen as effectively as those species.

The study authors, such as Dr Tonya Lander from Oxford’s Department of Biology, point out that many pollinator planting schemes ignore flowering during this ‘hungry gap’ but point out that many farm and conservation projects could easily incorporate these species, with farmers benefitting because it just means adjusting the hedgerow without the need to take land out of food production.

On the Adlington Pollinator Project I’ve planted many hawthorn, willow (and many goat willow had come in naturally), native cherry and a smattering of field maple, but red dead nettle and ground ivy is very thin on the ground. Thanks to the Universities of Oxford and Exeter I’ll be assessing again the provision of pollen particularly during March and April.