Sunday 8 November 2009

Winter Bees

I've noticed in the past couple of years that bumblebees seem to be flying long after the end of summer and before the coming of spring. Now a research study (reported in today's Telegraph, but unavailable on their notoriously useless website) has found that many of our bumblebees are indeed giving up on hibernation and staying active through the winter months. Naturally the scientsts' first thought is that this is down to 'climate change' (as they like to call the Slight British Warming), but they acknowledge that other factors must be at work, since it is only in Britain that this overwintering is occurring. Perhaps our native bumbles are interbreeding with hardier foreign species, introduced to help with pollination in polytunnels - or, more likely, since winter flying is predominantly an urban/suburban phenomenon, it's down to our helpful planting of exotic winter-flowering shrubs (especially bee-friendly Mahonia) in our gardens. So, once again - as with, for example, the Large Blue and Heath Fritillary - man's activity proves to be a benign influence on nature.

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