Long summer lavender

July 30, 2010

We have a 14′ lavender hedge, and it’s in full bloom right now, so of course it’s all over the pots.

Three years ago we counted 30-50 bees in each of 7 big pots one afternoon – that’s about 300 bees in one small area at once. They were all different kinds, big bumbles, stripey honey bees, black bees, ones with white bums, silver-pale ones, orange-all-over and so on. This year, though the lavender still seems full of bees, there’s more like 5 in each pot, and they’re mostly bumble bees, with only 4 or 5 honey bees altogether at one time – a frightening difference – about 40, instead of 300 bees in the lavender.

The bees are very entertaining – weighed down with their baggy yellow trousers, they go hard at it from dawn until after dusk; they get a bit outraged when we pick or harvest the lavender, and huffy when we lean over the hedge  – they buzz at us to get us out of the way.

Last year, one huge bumble bee had a difficult moment (stressed? over-worked? drunk?) and it collapsed shivering beside where we were sunbathing I mean working (see F’s blogue post Whisper subtle news for the distinction: Sometimes writing looks remarkably like sunbathing…). We revived the poor bee with a spoonful of honey on a bean-leaf, which it immediately drank through its straw, and after a short nap, and then a wash-and-brush-up, it flew tipsily off.

The bees are always attracted to blue things (shirt, suntan lotion bottle, and inconveniently at the moment my biro – one just sat on my thumb) – but we like to think they’re just being matey. Of course we talk to them  – and we were pleased to find a blog about singing to them, to comfort and encourage them – it’s called For the bees, a participatory public artwork, at http://weareworriedaboutthebees.wordpress.com/about/ and the idea is a song of will for the bees in a time of environmental crisis. The second performance (open to the public) is next weekend 6th August, 6pm, at Swansea University.

And then there’s the Co-op’s Plan Bee (at www.co-operative.coop/ethicsinaction/takeaction/planbee/), where you can sign a petition calling on the UK government ‘for a systematic review of the impact of pesticides on our most important pollinators’, as well as other things we can do to help bees. We long for the ‘bee-loud glade’ again.

For more information about lavender pots, click on contact details, or leave me a note in the comment box below.

One Response to “Long summer lavender”

  1. […] of different kinds of people are trying to help the bees – links to some of them here.  One of the happy results of urban beekeeping is that we can now get such local honey in London […]

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