Sunday, 23 February 2014

Winter wears a dream of smiling spring...

It has been a relatively benign winter in Norfolk, the tidal surge in December aside. And now it feels like spring is well on its way. With mild days and sunshine I've been expecting to see the first emergent Bumblebee queens for a week or so and finally saw one on Saturday (22nd), which is almost the exact date that Coleridge wrote this poem which is pretty spot on:

Work without Hope
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Lines Composed 21st February 1825

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair—
The bees are stirring—birds are on the wing—
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!
And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.

Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live.

It was this lovely, fat Bombus terrestris, a very common species which is often the first to emerge, and in some southern counties is now not even hibernating. The newly emergent queens will forage for a few days, build up their strength and look for suitable locations (such as old vole holes) to establish a nest.

As a point of comparison, in 2013 I didn't see any  Bumblebees until 7th April, but in 2012 it was 28th February. Foraging opportunities are pretty good this year, with lots of dead nettles, crocuses and even early daffodils.

1 comment:

  1. Great, I have yet to see a bee. There are now 4 clumps of frogspawn and I haven't seen any more moths. It's interesting to be able to compare dates year on year.