Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Wildlife In The Garden: Bee Rescue Part II, Vole Encounters Of The Close Kind, Snake Eggs In The Compost and Wildlflower Seed Planting

So the day didn't get off to a great start when Ted ate a buff-tailed Bumblebee Queen.

No sooner had I heard her buzzing by the ivy and excitedly noted her presence in my bee record book than I heard an ominous 'snap' and the buzzing went silent. In its place was a kind of awkward wet chewing.
Ted gave me the kind of glance than can only be described as socially embarrassed. And guilty.
'You deserve to have a stung mouth for that,' I told him, crossly. He must have swallowed her whole because there was no sting. He hung his head and wagged his tail a few times in a dispirited sort of way.

Unlike Pops who doesn't give a damn, Ted can't bare being in trouble. He is such a genuinely lovely natured boy that I can't be cross with him for long. L (asleep in our bed  but woken by me being cross with Ted) poked his head blearily out the window.
'What's he done?'
'Eaten a bee' I said.
'He probably thought it was a fly mum. You know he can't stand flies. He won't have meant it.'

That boy loves his dog like nothing else. Woe-betide anyone who criticizes Ted Bear in L's hearing.

There was a strange kind of karma operating today. Our friends Mrs G and her son L came up from Bath for lunch and a dog walk (the boys taking the opportunity to demonstrate to Mrs G why her L should be allowed Halo on the x-box, largely by explaining that killing aliens is completely different to shooting people). We went down to the woods and saw a tonne of Orange-Tips- there were loads of them fluttering about in the sunshine being chased by Brimstones and the odd Peacock, so next time I am taking the whizz-bang camera and getting some better shots.

After our guests left I decided to put in some more hours in the garden. There is a lot to do and I think there is nothing nicer than spending several hours productively in your garden. I got a new honeysuckle yesterday and a perennial wallflower for the new bed, which is filling up nicely.

Anyway, I had the camera with me and this is what I saw....



Great Tit


Pop with her favourite rag in her chops

Blackberry, our Robin
Snoozing Pige

Our One And Only Tulip
Dewy 5-spot Ladybird

I got Quite Fascinated by these seeds. All wildflowers.....


Night-Flowering Catchfly (for my moths)




Mixed with clay for compost and chilli to keep nibbly folk away while they germinate...


Tufted Vetch
I'm experimenting with the wildflowers this year by planting them in pots on the patio and scattering some seeds into the flower beds as well and seeing what works best. Hopefully next year we will be able to set aside a proper section of the garden for a real wildflower meadow.

It was while I was busy seed-sowing (in comfort, mind- d'you think a chair in a greenhouse is A Step Too Far? I don't, especially when it is unaccompanied by some chilled white wine and salt and vinegar crisps)....

D'you like my new gloves?

That I spotted Pops Behaving Oddly (that is, more oddly than normal, which is saying something)....

What was she staring at?

I went to investigate and discovered a bee, sunning herself on the outside of the greenhouse (you can just about see her top right near Pop's ear). A Buff-Tailed Queen.....

I blocked the entrance off and of course Pops, being a Smart Girl, went round the other way, only to pull up sharpish near a plant pot and stare avidly at....

Another bee, also sunning herself, (and sticking her leg out in self-defence when I got too close).

The first bee sat on the wall for ages and the second one flew away after a few seconds so I thought we'd got away with it because Poppy became distracted by Ted, who was Busy Hunting Rats on the wall. She went to join in and the two of them spent ages up there.....

But then she returned, just as Bee Number One was making a break for it across the patio and up the greenhouse. I'm not sure she could fly as she was buzzing her wings and nothing much was happening and Poppy was displaying Serious Interest by now. This is where the Karma Bit comes in. I found myself for the second time in as many weeks carrying a bee onto the outside table and feeding her Waitrose Finest Honey to revive her. A Buff-Tailed Queen just like the one Ted ate earlier this morning.....

I'm gonna need to buy more honey at this rate....

Some time later I went back to check on her and she'd been joined by an ant who was also enjoying the sweet snack....

And that reminded me of M's favourite childhood story book: Ant and Bee and Kind Dog.....Oh look! Right on cue.....

Or not, as it happens.

After half an hour of digging, they unearthed a rats nest and dragged out two rat children, one of whom was dispatched rapidly, but the second unfortunately got carted into the garden as a play thing.

The squeaking was unbearable, and could I get near her to retrieve the poor little blighter? Could I heck. Eventually she got bored of playing with it and abandoned it. I chickened out of doing the necessary and now it's sitting in the middle of the garden with a plant pot over the top of it for M to sort out when he gets back from work. Oh, the joys of living in the country.

On a happier note, I came face to face rather unexpectedly with my vole today. I haven't seen him all week and was starting to get worried, then whilst clearing up plant pots I happened to lift up a plastic sack in Samantha Helvetica's patch and discovered my vole sitting calmly beneath it.
We stared at each other for a few minutes. I honestly reckon I could have picked him up he was so unbothered. After he'd studied me for a while he decided to scamper off and hide in the drain pipe.

I have warned him that that section of the garden is not the safest place to be, especially after finding lots and lots of these in the compost heap today.....

D'you know what they are? Grass Snake Eggs......Looks like Samantha Helvetica Children will be roaming abroad in the garden this summer. Good job the Toad's been replaced after last summer's Unfortunate Snacking Incident. I shall keep you all posted.

Have a lovely evening all. Hope all are well.

CT :-)


  1. I have exactly double the number of tulips you do.
    Which seeds are in the seed balls?

    1. I've got two tins, one for bees and one for butterflies and they're both wildflower mixes. The bee one has birdsfoot trefoil, wild marjoram, viper's-bugloss, red clover and foxglove, and the flutters one has purple loosestrife, forget-me-not, yarrow, musk mallow and red campion. You get 20 balls in a tin, each ball containing 100 seeds.

  2. It sounds to me as though word is getting round about your bee feeding station, hang around in the garden, look a bit pathetic and the nice lady will give you honey - waitrose honey at that! - you don't have to do a thing. Oh, watch out for the dogs though, yeah, one of them ate my friend, but the lady is nice!! xx

  3. Me again, I haven't been ignoring you, but just realise that I have somehow missed several posts, no idea what happened there. Anyhow, still here! xx

    1. Don't worry- I find it hard to get round everybody's posts every week sometimes :-)

  4. I think you should send the Bee Rescue stories to Waitrose - they might send you a voucher!

    Great to see all your efforts for wildlife gardening. I do hope the seed balls work.

    Thanks for showing the grass snake eggs. I`ll look out for them in the compost bin where grass clippings go as I know we have had grass snakes down there in the past.

    1. That's a great idea! I'll email them :-)

      Am very interested in the seedballs and hoping they produce good efforts.

      Hopefully, if you've got compost and a pond and have seen the snakes already they'll be breeding there. We saw three last year, after putting in the pond. One huge one who we called Samantha Helvetica (or I did) and two smaller.

  5. You have some great photos here and also I like the snack feeding for the bee n ant - "sweet" idea. You also tell a heck of a nice story. Have a wonderful day.

    1. Thanks Kodz, that's very kind of you. And thanks for the follow too :-)

  6. Great news about the grass snake eggs :) Now that is something I would like to find in my compost heap :) Well done on the second bee rescue too :) Look forward to seeing how all your wildflower seeds do - must get cracking on mine!

    1. I was really pleased and only knew what they were because ma (who is worried by snakes) had loads in her compost last year and I looked them up.

      Yes, it's Bee Rescue Central here at the moment :-) It's just as well I'm growing all these bee-friendly plants really! x

  7. Those seed balls are such a great idea! The birds eat everything I cast about so I will be investigating......thank you!

    1. The tins they come in are reusable too, so I was thinking about seed collecting late summer/ autumn with them :-)

  8. I love all the photos.The grass snake eggs are an interesting find. Hope your little vole manages to avoid all predators. Good to hear about the bee rescue. I don't think Harry has ever been interested in bees, spiders have been his thing, although now he's older I think he's completely lost interest in them.

    1. I'm worried about the Vole. SV isn't in evidence yet, but she can't be far away and he has chosen the one section of the garden where she lives in the summer :-(

      I wish Teddy would shift away from flying things to spidery things... Pops is at the stage where she likes to stare at bees and then lick them experimentally- poor things :-)

  9. What a great wildlife post CT. Sorry I'm so late in picking it up, great bee rescue again and fab images. I have a stool in my greenhouse and hubby bought me a door plate with a pic of a squirrel on it and the number of our my greenhouse!
    Wow grass snake eggs, I'd be jumping for joy!


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x