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.