While we were staying with our son in Malaga over Christmas, we once again, visited the beautiful botanical gardens La Concepción. This time we saw the Manuka bushes in flower and saw how attractive the flowers were to the honey bees. The Manuka plants are native to New Zealand and my internet research indicates that they are easy to grow, will tolerate temperatures down to minus ten centigrade and do not require wet soil. This certainly sounded interesting.
I was delighted to find I could order plants in France and decided to order from Gamme Vert as I could avoid the delivery charge by picking the plants up myself from their nearest shop.
We are running out of sunny spots in the garden so Kourosh decided to clear off the turf to provide the plants with their personal flower bed. They will probably have to share it as time goes by but for now it is all theirs.
The plants all had strong roots and have had plenty of rain to allow them to settle into their new home. The Manuka or Leptospermum scoparium “Martini” that I have chosen is due to flower in May to June. I cannot say why the Manuka was flowering in December in Malaga but it may just flower there over a much longer period.
I really do feel our bees deserve a present as they are out there as soon as there is a glimmer of sun in this unusually dull start to the year. The Loquat or Eribotrya japonicais just about finished flowering and the cold seems to have finished off the older flowers.
The bees, like this one, appear to be flying at temperatures that my indoor/outdoor thermometer reads as under ten degrees centigrade.
This is “Pissenlit” in the sunshine. The temperature at the house was showing seven degrees so I decided to put an old fashioned liquid thermometer in the shade near the hives.
The thermometer read seven degrees, so the sunshine must keep them warm enough to forage on nearby flowers.
The queen bumble bees are said to be able to fly at the lower temperatures because their fluffy coats provide insulation but they should choose a shady site to continue their light hibernation or else they will be woken prematurely by the fickle winter sun.
Let’s hope there are more sunny days coming up for the bees to stretch their wings and the gardeners to appreciate the spring flowers appearing.
To see the bees bringing in the pollen to “Violette Noire” have a look at this short video (1min30s) taken on the 6 of February.