Monday, 1 August 2016

Plant lambs' ears and keep wool carder bees happy

Kate Bradbury’s wildlife garden is less than a year old, but her lambs’ ears plants are already attracting new pollinators to the plot

Friday 29 July 201610.00 BST Last modified on Friday 29 July 201610.01 BST

Wool carder bees are nesting in my garden. I’m proud and happy and slightly obsessed – I sneak out during the day and sit by my patch of lambs’ ears (Stachys byzantina): the bees seem particularly fond of both its nectar and pollen, as well as using it as nesting material. I watch aggressive males fight each other in hilarious territorial struggles; brief, no-frills copulation; and females gathering tiny hairs from the furry lambs’ ear leaves to line the nests of their young. 

In the evening I look for signs of them in my bee hotels. One male sleeps, or rests – if resting is a more appropriate description of what wool carder bees do at night – curled up in his ‘cavity’. As my eyes adjust in the half-light of dusk I can just make him out from deep within the hole. I wonder if he can sense me peeking in as he lies, face drawn into his belly, back to the world.

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