Today saw the second of the annual timed bumblebee recording walks on the RSPB reserve. The distribution of bees reflected the conditions of the year so far. Virtually every bee I saw was found on viper’s bugloss Echium vulgare. This reflected the unusually poor state of the pasture, with hardly any legumes in flower yet. Some were late due to the spring drought, others were being grazed.
Viper’s bugloss is well adapted to live on dry shingle and has been quick to respond to the recent rain. Surveys in the past have shown that this plant tends to be used most often for nectaring, rather than a source of pollen. The pollen collected from this species is blue, and the bees today did not appear to be carrying any.
Does this matter? Read the rest of this entry »