A Pot of Bees

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The petunia wasn’t exactly a star performer in the garden. The pot too was a bit of disappointment, like a mini trug it was designed to hang on a hook, but it got a  bit too hot, was little too small, the angle made it difficult to water, and after a while I noticed a hole in the compost, which just filled with water every time I watered. The plants never thrived, unlike a neighbouring more traditional hanging basket full of violet coloured petunias which bloomed enthusiastically for months (in fact everything I bought from Three Ponds farm shop thrived! (must go there again)

Anyway in the normal course of events I would have just thrown the whole plant and compost back on the compost heap at the end of the Summer except that before I did, I noticed that someone else had decided it was perfect…

I spotted the bee , mouth full of a big leaf segment, and watched as it disappeared into the pot, into the earth tunnel, and flew out again. And she came back again, again and again with her little leaf segments. I wonder how many baby bees she has planted in my sorry looking hanging pot? So the pot is now in the Sunshine, and waiting for those baby bees to wake up, chew away their first meal, and discover the world for the first time.

Solitary Leafcutter bees cut discs out of leaves (they particularly like roses), gluing them together with saliva in order to build the ‘cells’ in which their larvae live. The larvae hatch and develop, pupating in autumn and hibernating over winter. The Leaf-cutter Bee is on the wing from April to August, and feeds solely on pollen and nectar.

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Another bee caught my eye in the Summer too. While sat on a bench up the cliff (only 100 yards or so from the house) I spotted another bee disappearing into a tunnel in the sandy dust. It later emerged after sealing up the tunnel entrance behind it. Presumably one of the miner bees.

Miner bee nests will often consist of one small, main tunnel, with perhaps 5 or so branches, each containing an egg cell. Adults emerge from hibernation in Spring, having hibernated through the winter. After mating, the female seeks a place to make a nest. Like the other female solitary bees, she sets about making egg cells: in each one she lays an egg and provides both pollen and nectar on which the individual larva can feed. Each individual egg cell is made, provisioned, then sealed up before the next cell is made. She will usually lay about 5 eggs.

They should have plenty to feed on when they do emerge anyway, as I try and grow as many bee friendly plants as possible, and we are on the edge of the South Downs National Park and Seaford Head nature reserve.

Roll on Spring. Buzzzzzz

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