As sure as eggs are eggs

I love seeing all the signs of Spring. I check daily the areas that I know will show the next update. The hedgerows, that line our lane, are rich with variety. The more I look, the more I recognise. The Lesser Celandine has been up a couple of weeks. They open their petals to greet the sun. The wild violets opened this week. We found one stretch where white and purple violets are cozying up to each other. The May blossom is starting. A few weeks ago we spotted a pair of firecrests working their way along the hedge.

The oak branches have become nobbley as they ready themselves to burst into leaf. A pair of black caps have been stopping in the oak tree and singing. The male’s song is beautiful.

Earlier this week, we knew that the plum tree would be in blossom this weekend. How?

Because the Ashey Mining bees told us. As sure as eggs are eggs, the floor of our little orchard becomes a moving carpet of little grey bees precisely a week before the plum tree bursts into flower. They will then spend time pollinating the blossom. Twenty yards away there is a totally different mix of mining bees and their predatory cuckoo bees. Even spotted a bee fly with its funny jabbing action.

I love to spend time with these little bees, especially the Ashey Mining bees. We lie down in the middle of their patch and watch them quietly buzz around us. Totally unbothered by us. Stinging is not an issue. I know mason bees have to be really provoked before they sting. I believe these are the same.

They are fascinating. They love the short grass. Preferably with a few little patches of bare earth. They burrow down to lay their eggs. As they enter, they pull over a clod of soil to hide the entrance. I love these little bees. They only fly for just six weeks.

Before I knew about these wonderful little critters, I mistook their earth mounds for worm casts. It makes me wonder, how many other people overlook their presence in their gardens. It makes me shudder to think that some may destroy these bees, believing them to be a nuisance. Never realising what a wonderful pollinating job they do.

BL spent a lot of time on Friday, flat on her tummy watching them. When I joined her, she told me about something that happened at school. A friend spotted a buzzing insect and instantly declared it as a wasp. BL looked and recognised it as a hover fly. Quite harmless. She calmly showed her friend how to hold out her hand and wait for the fly to land. It did. Her friend was thrilled. I think we have another convert.

Back later with a patchwork update.

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