As you'd expect, we have lots of goodies around the garden for bees at this time of year. I'd already seen my honeybees on the crocuses and today - great excitement - two Bombus pratorum queens (the "Early bumblebee, well named) foraging on our generous helpings of hellebores.
We have plenty of other early season pollen and nectar available too. It's particularly important for bumblebee queens to fatten up again after a winter spent hibernating, and for honeybees to find pollen for their young as their colonies start to expand again. Myrobalan
, cherry plum, is particularly valuable as it comes into blossom so early - what a great plant. Quick growing, tough as old boots, it was often used as a windbreak around orchards and lays very nicely in a hedge.
Less traditional are the wacky willows I've planted down by the pond, which flower exotically at odd times of year. These will be pollarded in traditional Somerset style. Good fun. The bees seem to like them too, covered as they are with masses of yellow pollen.
I've been sad that our lungwort has failed to attract any hairy-footed flower bees this year. There were some around the old back garden, before we built out new house, and I planted their favourite plant in reasonable numbers. Oh well. I'll divide them up and we'll see if that improves things. I've been pleased to see a random Coltsfoot plant appear in the meadow, though. It's an odd looking thing, but a lovely splash of yellow before the dandelions get going. Good native bee plant too.