Bumblebees have smelly feet - did you know?
March 16, 2017 5:41am CST
I subscribe to a newsletter from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. I love ALL bees but have a special affection for these fat furry flying beasts that look like they break all the laws of physics in order to get off the ground. We have a lot in our garden and they can get pretty big; certainly big enough to make a tempting target for a cat with nothing better to do than chase one round the garden or the house. Today I learned from the newsletter that bumblebees have smelly feet. Who knew? Apparently they leave their foot-pong on flowers after visiting so that other bumblebees will know not to waste their time visiting because they've already nabbed all the pollen. The scent of their paws then wears off with time and a canny bumblebee knows which flower will have replenished its goodies by how strong the scent of his pre-visitor has become. Honey bees are of course very famous for their wiggle-dances and their great navigation, but I'm impressed to know that the flying fat-boys of the bee world have a few tricks up their sleeves - or more precisely in their socks. The picture - if you are wondering - is one of mine. I grow bee friendly flowers.
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Is this a lavender flower? I also grow lavender because both my husband and I love the bumblebees. Two years ago I planted tomatillos (Mexican husk tomatoes) and they were mad around those flowers. I have tried again last year but we had a too wet summer, I was so sorry for my little fat friends.
• Northampton, England
They adore foxgloves and anything with lots of little flowers. We had a whole hedge of lavender but have just pulled it up to replant as it was getting out of control. We'll make sure they find other good things to eat. At the moment we have amazing heather flowering which is giving them a nice early start.