You're closer to nature than you might think
Island Stories #44: A bumblebee on a butterfly bush
Most of us live in cities, and we sometimes get in our car to drive to nature. Nature has thus become an attraction to visit just as we go to a cinema or an amusement park, where we first have to pay for a ticket before we are allowed in through the gates of, say, Yellowstone National Park. However, we are daily interacting closely with nature, even in our urban environments. For example, the trees in your city contribute to the oxygen that you breathe in your office. And when you eat an apple behind your desk, you hold some nature in your hands.
I walked around my village on the island today and thought about this when I watched a bumblebee enjoying the flowers of a butterfly bush. Nature is everywhere if you look for it. So I made this photo for sharing with you. I have no story of a long walk to a particular spot in the forest to witness this scene. Had I zoomed out, you would see the local grocery shop in the background.
But isn’t this beautiful? I stopped and admired the busy bee. What you see here is the Common Carder Bumblebee (Bombus pascuorum), a fluffy yellowish and black bumblebee that I am sure you must have seen in gardens, woodland, or farmland. It emerges every year in early spring, and you can still see them in November. These are social bees; their nests may contain up to 200 workers. From the site of the Wildlife Trusts, I learned that; ‘the queen emerges from hibernation in spring and starts the colony by laying a few eggs that hatch as workers; these workers tend the young and nest. Males emerge later and mate with new females who are prospective queens. Both the males and old queen die in the autumn, but the new queens hibernate.’
I always like bumblebees, just as I like the flower that this one visits that many of you will recognize as a butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii). Butterfly bushes are easy to grow, and I can confirm from my own experience that it works to attract butterflies, bumblebees, and other pollinators. But there are also some downsides to consider before planting butterfly bushes in your garden. It is an invasive species (originally from China) with competitive advantages over native flowering plants. And as this article explains: ‘Butterfly Bush benefits pollinators but only at one stage of their life cycle. It attracts butterflies because it provides copious nectar. However, butterflies need host plants on which to lay eggs and on which their caterpillars feed. Not a single native caterpillar eats Butterfly Bush leaves.‘
I am off into nature for the next two days (without paying an entrance fee). Pictures will follow later. Look for that nature in your city when you leave the house!
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I saw this deer just before sunset this evening :-)