Bee Update

bee enjoys nectar rich golden marjoramThe bees have been going mad for our golden marjoram, they’ve also been enjoying the more common oregano that seeds itself freely among the cobbles at the front of the house.  Members of the oregano family, despite their diminutive flowers, are incredibly rich sources of pollen and nectar.  (Incidentally they are also useful for warding off potentially destructive insects in the vegetable plot and make good companion plants.  Carrot flies are especially confused by their scent and are less likely to attack your carrots.)  This plant is a great addition to the list of late summer flowers you can plant to attract bees.  Golden marjoram is easy to grow.  In the spring months it forms pleasing mounds of bright green foliage.  It does tend to flop once it reaches flowering stage but is no less attractive for this, ask a bee!


I’ve also been keeping an eye out for all things bee on my walks. The towpath, and the abandoned railway that runs adjacent to it, do a pretty good job of providing a wealth of bee friendly plants.  The bees are not always easy to catch on camera and I’ve missed some golden opportunities.  As well as finding time to read the instructions that came with my camera I think I’m also going to have to find a good book on bee identification.  In the meantime I’ve been using the Natural History Museum’s bee identification site.  This is a really useful identification tool, but like all tools accuracy depends upon who is using it and I’m not that confident that I’ve got it right. 

bombus lapidarus on knapweed

Anyway, here goes, please feel free to correct me, please do!  I think the one above  is a male red tail bumble bee  (bombus lapidarus) enjoying the knapweed that is just coming into flower now.  The one below on the woundwort I’m really not sure about, but it may be the darker form of bombus hortorum or garden bumblebee.  Again, if you know better please let me know. (And I,ll be really impressed if you know what the insect on the other side is!)

bee on woundwort

The Man from Salford found this nest of buff-tails under the railway sleepers, it has made a fantastic home for them. When I visited I think most on them were out, I suspect making up for lost time after the recent heavy rain we’ve had.  Nevertheless,  there was a steady stream of bees in and out and it was lovely to watch them.

bee nest

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 Our Green Shop stocks a fantastic range of products to encourage bees and all manner of other wildlife into the garden.  Why not pay them a visit here?  The bee box pictured here is perfect for creating a bee friendly habitat absolutely anywhere.  It is made from FSC timber and has a viewing window.  The bee box comes complete with nesting material and an excellent beginners guide to bumble bees.

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7 comments to Bee Update

  • Beautiful post! Thanks for the tip about oregano – I have known entirely too much of the stuff, but it DOES attract an amazing range of pollinators. Will have to work at spreading some of what we’ve got around a bit more for the benefit of its floral neighbors!!

    What a lovely blog!

  • This is a gorgeous post – and now I know that I need to move my marjoram nearer to my carrots just in case of carrot flies! These are great pictures Goo, I have spent many hours trying and failing to get good shots of bees. I’m now going to go and check out that bee identification tool – what a mine of useful stuff you are!

  • goo

    Very kind of you both to say so. If I could find a blushing emoticon it would be here, my dashboard’s playing some awful games with me today!

  • Excellent post! Up here in Shetland we get fewer species of bees, the season is short but intense. I am considering trying to keep bees up here using a top-bar hive, top bar hive beekeeping is a more sustainable approach than the standard movable frame type of hive keeping, a good site for info is

    Have Fun

  • goo

    That sounds good to me. We’d also like to keep bees but many beekeepers around here have been affected by CCD and we’re a little apprehensive. We don’t want our first attempts at livestock keeping to end in mass death! Good luck to you, we’ll be following any progress you make. I hope other readers willl be heading over to to see what you’re up to up there as well.

  • Jayemsee

    Hi Goo, I agree, a lovely post, I also will move my Oregano this autumn.
    As for your worries about keeping bees and the posibility of disease etc, I suggest you look into Natural Beekeeping – I just did a course last weekend which was wonderful and extremely eye-opening. Keeping bees in a much more natural way can greatly reduce their likelyhood of being seriously compromised by pests and diseases. Please check out the Natural Beekeeping Trust who ran my course, they are delightful people and you will learn so much about a bee-friendly way of keeping bees while also helping their decreasing numbers. Jane xx

  • goo

    Thanks Jane, I’ll definitely look into this!