As a beekeeper, I look forward to spring with enthusiasm. No more feeding sugar syrup to my ladies to give them energy – they can go foraging for nectar and pollen. And when I see them carrying pollen into the hives, I know for sure that the queen has started laying eggs, the baby bees are growing and all is well.
Bees are awfully clever you know. They tend to stay in their hive or nest until they know they’ll be able to find wildflowers to feed on. So for me, wildflowers are not just pretty, they’re the promise of lots of honey to come. Yum.
Here are some images of wildflowers in early spring. Some were taken by me whilst walking the dogs. Some were taken by my colleague Robert Allen. Robert grows wildflowers for a living. He’s the Production Manager at Meadowmat who has a talent for photography.
Common daisy. Labelled as weeds, these little flowers are fast disappearing from lawns and shared spaces. That’s a shame because they bloom almost all year round and are a valuable source of pollen and nectar for early-flying bees.
Lawn lovers – please don’t banish daisies entirely – they’re incredibly important.
These beautiful violets grow just outside the churchyard gates in my village. They smell divine and bloom as early in the year as of February. You have to look closely though – they’re very shy!
These crocus bulbs were planted beneath Meadowmat. Whilst the wildflowers are still waking up, the crocus provides vibrant colour and vital bee food.
Ahhhh gorse. It grows thick and strong in Thetford Forest where I walk my dogs. And there’s barely a month of the year when there are no gorse flowers. In spring they’re particularly plentiful and delightfully scented. The whole forest smells like holiday time. Gorgeous!
Cowslips. These are in the seed mix for Traditional Meadowmat and they used to be common in the countryside. This picture was taken a couple of years ago in the one remaining traditional pasture in my parish. I didn’t see the cowslips last year – perhaps they’ve succumbed to modern pesticides. I hope not.
Blackthorne. There’s some of this blooming in the hedgerows now (8th March). Why do I love Blackthorne? Because of the flowers a great bee food? They are – but that’s not my number 1 reason for liking this plant. After the flowers come to the fruit. Sloes. I’ve never fancied eating sloes but I do use them to make sloe gin. A fabulously warming drink to have by the fire on a miserable winter’s evening. See – wildflowers CAN bring cheer all year round.
This picture was taken in April. Can you see what it is? It’s a very young red clover – barely even a bud. Clover pollen is protein-rich. The perfect food for bee larvae. That’s why clover is such an important part of the UK ecosystem. No baby bees = no adult bees = no-one to pollinate our food crops.
I do hope you’ve enjoyed these images. All but 3 of them were taken in my own mini-meadow – made from Meadowmat – or on the Meadowmat production fields.
If you would like to have a small wildflower area in your own garden, so that you can take pictures AND help wildlife, it’s very easy to install and care for.