Some more nature nerdism this week (well, it was either that or nerdy naturism but that can wait).
I have a buzzing box. I mean - a bird box, which has been used by its intended hosts for a few years and from which many a cute little bluetit has stretched its wings and flown. They haven't been interested in it this year, though, and when I was pruning the honeysuckle which grows around it I realised why. I accidentally tapped the box and immediately after I heard a strange sound. A kind of hissing, sizzling, zzizzing. I thought maybe there was someone playing a Kazoo nearby – which would be fun but unlikely – it wasn't Pink Floyd's Corporal Clegg anyway, that's for sure. I tapped it once more, deliberately this time, and there it was again – from inside. Seems that the bluetits have lost out this year to a bumblebee.
I can't wait to see the comings and goings of a colony of bumbles! Right now I presume that Queen Bee is in there, tucked away safely under the mossy remains of a previous bird nest, having survived hibernation somewhere over the winter. She will lay eggs and start up a new colony, which will last for only one season. She didn't hear my tapping – she doesn't have any ears! - but she would have felt the vibration and her buzzing was a warning for me not to pop in there and lay my own eggs. Still, I have nothing to fear as I'm not a bluetit and bumblebees very rarely sting, so I welcome the presence of this lovely, unassuming but important insect, especially as their numbers are in serious decline.
What is it they say - that if all the bees died, humans would have only four years to live? Seems a bit extreme but we get the gist. There's some hope for us yet, anyway.
The Bees: Voices Green and Purple