Where are the bees?

How are the  bees (and other insects) doing where you are this year?

As I have been watching my Telford garden this year I have noticed that there seem to be far fewer bees than in previous years.  I have all the same flowers (towers of foxgloves, calendula, toad flax, chives, land cress) that bees have loved and could not get enough of, and in some cases even more of them than before.

The Borderland garden is faring a bit better and has some bees and other insects – fewer butterflies than last year, and I think, less bees but more than in Telford.

It would be good to see what other people’s experience is so far this summer.

About Anni Kelsey

I love forest gardens and forest gardening, nature, reading and everything good about being alive. I have written two books - the garden of equal delights (2020) - about the principles and practice of forest gardening; and Edible Perennial Gardening (2014) - about growing perennial vegetables in polycultures, which is basically forest gardening concentrating on the lower layers.
This entry was posted in Relationship with nature, Telford Garden, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Where are the bees?

  1. Dave Hunter says:

    Our company touches 8,000 gardeners across North America with raising mason bees. I believe due to much of the NE’s horribly long winter, most of the solitary spring bees may have perished due to starvation. They’d emerge with any warmth and then not have the pollen/nectar load necessary for their nesting needs.

    Thank goodness we’re teaching people how to take care of the hole-nesting bees. Having them in the refrigerator over the winter has their metabolism lower, which allows them to be released later in the spring.

    In the NW, SE, and SW, no such issues. This was a banner year for mason bees in the NW.

    It’s a tough world being a bee… We do a lot of harm to our wonderful pollinators.


  2. its hard to compare just one year to the next on a small scale. the woodland trust also has a mssive data collecting scheme which includes some insects to map seasonal changes. all ecordings are useful. we have seen fewer ladybirds(Buglife want records of sightings),slightly less mason bees, a good number of miner bees have moved in. wasps aplenty, honeybees are struggling against illness- my girls have been flinging out short-winged virus affected bees as they cant fly.Bumbles are plentiful but only 2 species present, sometimes many more. Butterflies: no blues, meadow browns up, no painted ladies. few red admirals.Keep providing varied food and caterpiller food plants everyone plus water sources(soaked compost is good).intersperse food plants with natives.leave some long grass and docks too for moth larvae(which are much fewer these days too.)


  3. This is worrying. We have only had our allotment a year so I don’t have anything to compare with but there seem to be loads on the comfrey, which is pretty rampant around the edges. In the garden I haven’t noticed a big difference – the cotoneaster has been positively buzzing. You have inspired me to sign up to one of those bee counting schemes though – the Bumblebee Trust has one, and so does Friends of the Earth, although I have had some problems with their phone app.


  4. I’ve heard, anecdotally, lots of stories of declining or crashing insect and bird populations on the mainland of North America. I’m now in Hawai’i, and haven’t been here long enough to have a sense of the normal rhythm. Derrick Jensen wrote a very relevant article “iAgainst Forgetting: Where have all the animals gone? It’s hard to fight for what you don’t know you’ve lost.”


  5. Andy P says:

    I was only just commenting the other day that there are so many more bees than last year. All bumble bees. I was told by a bee keeper that bee numbers can dramatically change from one year to another because of the local farm crops. If borage or rape have been planted near you this year the bees won’t leave it. Last year I had both a field of borage and rape next to me and although I had a fair few bees last year this year there is no borage or rape and the numbers have increased in the garden for sure.

    Because of the mild winter and a fairly wet spring and summer different wild flowers have done well compared to last year which may effect local numbers of bees. I have hedge wound wort in 10x the number compared to last year and the bees love it.

    The clover on Friday was swarming with bees when I was cutting the grass and also the vipers bugloss was covered in them. I’m also well up on corn marigolds which they seem to like which may have attracted bees earlier this year to the garden.

    All in all my insect numbers are well up on last year. The only thing down so far are the numbers of rabbits, so I’m well pleased 🙂


    • Anni Kelsey says:

      Interesting about the hedge woundwort – I haven’t ever noticed bees on that. I do pull it out as well because of its’ invasive nature and I really don’t like the smell. I may leave the next clump I see and watch for bees.


  6. Helen says:

    I think a few less bees than last year. – not as many in the foxgloves. I always have two in the mornings in the opium poppies, once both in the same flower! Lavender just coming out so it will be interesting to see how many I get on that


    • Anni Kelsey says:

      Yes, at the Borderland garden there are some self seeded opium poppies and there were two bees in one flower for ages the other day when I was out nearby. I couldn’t believe how much fun they seemed to be having!


  7. MikeH says:

    We’ve got lots of bumblebees again this year. Early in the season we had dozens of queens on our haskap. I think that it’s because of the conversion of our orchard last year to a Michael Phillips holistic orchard. We’ve also had a fair number of honeybees. They aren’t ours because ours froze due to our horrifically cold winter. Unless they are wild bees (which is good), the closest hives that I’m aware of are at least 4-5 km away. If they’re foraging this far, it means that there isn’t enough for them closer. That’s not good.

    We haven’t seen as many wild bees in our bee boxes this year. Hopefully, they’re choosing more natural places.

    It’s not just food that bees need. They also need water.



  8. lizard100 says:

    We’ve seen a big improvement in bee numbers locally here in The Netherlands. Sad to hear yours are dwindling.


  9. Margaret says:

    Same here – I an in East Anglia and have also noted less insect life this year. Not just bees and butterflys but also ladybirds.


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