Idly staring out of our bedroom window and glancing down my reaction was “oh no, not again” for there were so many bees flying round an ivy “tree” that I thought a swarm had settled in the plant growth.
On closer inspection it was clear no swarm of honey bees but a swarm of lots of species; bees, flies, wasps and even the occasional hornet. Why the feeding frenzy? One plant, Ivy, with a plethora of tiny nectar rich flowers. Standing close and attempting to take some photographs wasn’t even scary as all visitors only had one obsession, to find the flower with the fresh nectar. Or if you are a Hornet a meaty snack to carry off.
Despite the frequent bad press Ivy is seldom a villain (endangering trees by weighing them down), far from it as it provides a rich food source for many insects throughout the year. A bit like Common Gorse there always seems to be an Ivy plant in flower somewhere, even in the depths of winter. Not just a food source either, a refuge for hibernating/dormant butterflies and a preferred nest site for several species of birds, Ivy has many roles.
Everything was moving so quickly and I am not that good a photographer so I resorted to taking pictures of the slower guests!
And even slower….
On a sunny day you really can spend hours in the company of a flowering Ivy just make sure you take plenty of patience if you intend to take pictures!
As the rain falls today, I noted that it was exactly two months since I had started the new reserve/ garden area where I live. Already there have been big changes to the wild life in the area in this short space of time and the potential of the project was looking very promising for next year. Earlier in the week I sat and watched up to 10 bees of 3 different species along with 6 butterflies of 4 different species all using the new area. I also noted several Hoverflies busily feeding from the Cornflowers and Borage showing that the area was attracting more than bees and butterflies.
One of the most notable things to me has been how my neighbours have been once I began creating the new area. Everybody has been pleased to see the area ‘tidied up ‘ and some colour put back on the land and most encouragingly one neighbour has told me he has never seen so many butterflies and bees in the area before and he has lived there longer than I have. Things are working! I am also very grateful to my neighbours for buying a few essential tools that have helped me to do the work. The work carries on and this rain will help me plant a few more flowers later on today to bring some more colour for next year.
As you’ve probably noticed the weather and climate have been somewhat extreme this year and the wildlife will be dealing with these changes first hand. These extreme weather patterns have been long predicted as part of the process of global warming. My garden reserve has felt the effects of the very hot weather we experienced a few weeks ago and has manged to not only survive the heat but use it to its advantage by being able to grow rapidly and start to establish ready for next year. It was interesting to note the rapid growth of some newly sown additions after the rain finally returned. In the space of six days I watched seeds to seedlings appear before me.
The cooler weather and rain showers have slowed down the insect activity a little bit but every day I see new activity in some shape or form and another. A new bee species was observed feeding in the area and it, Common Carder Bee, seemed to making full use of the Cornflower and Borage flowers in bloom. A total of eight flower species have made it into bloom and drawn larger numbers of bees, butterflies and various other insects into the local area. You can look at this from a different angle and say that in a very short space of time the biodiversity of the local area has increased by improving ground vegetation, which leads to attracting more insects which in turn will provide food for many bird species, other insects and an almost instant food chain is created.
It’s all well and good getting carried away but the rain also brought ‘ weeds ‘. A few hours have been spent digging or pulling docks, mosses, bindweed, brambles and Borage has been added to the list!