January was so cold and I became so impatient to see the Hellebores open. My Hellebores have obligingly self-seeded and I have tenderly spread them throughout the garden knowing how much I appreciate their colour and the number of bees that they attract in the early warm days of the year.
They are beautiful plants and provide both nectar and pollen for the bees. The green tubes that you can see behind the bee in the last picture, are the hellebore nectaries. There is an excellent site if you want more of an insight into the botany of Hellebores with superb photographs.
The winter flowers of the Sarcococca confusa are as important to me as to the bees and they bring their perfume to assure me that spring will not be long in coming.
The crocus bring the longed for colour – no matter what the weather is like.
The plum tree is just as impatient to flower, but with the first flowers opening so early I doubt whether the fruits will survive. It is two years since we have tasted the plums as although these signs are encouraging, winter will not have finished with us yet.
The willow near the bee hives is covered with soft pussy willow and I saw the male stamens break out with their yellow pollen today. If the weather keeps good the tree will soon be covered with bees of all sorts.
The carpenter bees (Xylocopa violacea) have returned.
More and more queen bumble bees are topping up on nectar, but I have not seen any gathering pollen yet (they know it is too early.)
The butterflies are around too. I think this Red Admiral must have overwintered somewhere judging by the condition of the wings.
However, I was surprised to see a Hummingbird Hawk-Moth (Macroglossum stellatarum) so early.
All in all I feel disoriented by this spell of clement, sunny weather with temperatures going up to 17 degrees centigrade sometimes in the afternoon.
Perhaps not so disoriented as the bumble bee above who seemed to be looking for nectar in the wrong place.
But finally we can take a lesson from these two bumble bees. Life is not all about rushing to get nectar. We need to make choices and decide to just enjoy it sometimes.