Primula problem

Front house 10.3.14

Shortly after we set up home here I bought a packet of primula seeds.  There were hardly any flowers in the garden and I wanted some colour.  I was pleased with the  quantity of seedlings that resulted and which prospered and multiplied.  This suited me very well as there were plenty of places to put in new plants when the older ones were split.  However, as the years passed I began to run out of places and because you can’t eat primulas the neighbours were not interested in them either.

Front border 10.3.14

In addition, as I accumulated more flowers I found that the primulas could cover the smaller spring flowers like the crocus and snowdrops.  The red one with the yellow centre was particularly vigorous and I decided that definitely this year, enough was enough.  They could have their last flowering and then it would be the compost heap.

Anthophora plumipes on Primula

That was until this morning.

Anthophora plumipes 10.3.14

I’d seen him roaring through the broad beans yesterday afternoon, he was either chasing off another male or trying to catch a female as he didn’t stop.  The Anthophora plumipes bees were back.  They are one of my favourites.  Who couldn’t not love a bee with a name like the Hairy-footed flower bee?  (Please note his hairy feet.)

Anthophora plumipes on Primula

I never knew they liked Primula and Narcissi.  I should have because BWARS gives a long list of the flowers they visit.

Anthophora plumipes on red Primula

So this is how a bee saved some Primulas from the compost heap.

I couldn’t get rid of them now, could I?


27 thoughts on “Primula problem

    1. It’s only the males that have the long hairs on their middle legs. The females have hairs on their rear legs that are used to collect pollen. I like the long fronds on the males legs, perhaps the female bees are impressed too! 🙂 Amelia


  1. No, you can’t just get rid of a flower that attracts your favorite bee. You could thin them. After all, it’s clear that a big part of your gardening strategy is to provide sustained blooming, to keep the bees happy all season (indeed, all year, if possible). So, thin the primulas, but, as much as they may require some occasional reining-in, they are part of the bee program and have a firm foothold in your garden and in the hearts of your bees.


    1. Quite right, even the red and yellow can be but in a less favourable part of the garden as it is so vigorous. They accept being chopped and replanted very well. I really prefer the more natural yellow colours but anything can be accepted if it helps the bees. Amelia


  2. Definitely not! Anyway, I find the primulas charming – so bright and colourful, and I have had to change my view too – my garden grows what IT wants, not what I want! Perhaps you could ease your conscience by just pulling up the new seedlings before they flower next year….


    1. I have to thin them every year but last year I started to get a bit tired digging them up, cutting them in pieces and finding homes for them all. This year I am going to put them down under the trees at the back and they can sink or swim but I’ll give them a good chance. Amelia


  3. Hello A,
    Glad to see that you’re enjoying some great weather as well. It’s interesting that you’ve not noticed bees on your Primulas before (and I love the pics and shall have to look out for this stout fellow up here). But 2 days ago in similar weather, I spotted 3 or 4 insect/flower interactions which I’ve never seen before in several years of looking, and I’m still trying to figure out why this might be. (I’m inclined to agree that the Primulas should stay, though such a strong red would probably have been rooted out by me at first flowering – much to Fiona’s annoyance!) Fascinated by your ‘wild bee’ colony piece as well BTW. BW, Julian


    1. I think it depends on the weather which effects which flowers are present in the area when the insects are there. There is definitely a “pecking order”, so it depends on what is on offer and what is abundant at any given time.


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