Nature at our doorsteps: Planting now for springtime bees

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

As we plant spring bulbs around now, we are planning ahead for the chilly, bleak, days of early spring.

Depending on which bulbs we plant, early bumblebees and honeybees will also gladly welcome these heralds of spring.

Pollen rich Crocuses will flower nicely in a hangng basket 1

Pollen-rich Crocuses will flower nicely in a hangng basket

Bumblebees do not make and store honey. Their summer-time colonies die away at the end of the season and only the mated Queens survive, overwintering in safe, dry, hibernation spots. 

When she emerges in early spring, the Queen urgently needs to feed on nectar before beginning to set up her new bumblebee colony. She then starts to gather pollen, which she will use to feed her first brood of new bumblebees.

Spring-flowering plants are therefore very important to the survival of bumblebees, and to other early insects like honeybees and solitary bees. 

Unfortunately, Daffodils do not have a lot of pollen or nectar. Crocuses are much better.

Snowdrop is an important early spring bulb to plant for bumblebees 1

Snowdrop is an important early spring bulb to plant for bumblebees


These come in an array of colours and look their best when planted in dense groups. They do well in plant pots, in sunny window boxes or in hanging baskets.  

Older varieties of Snowdrops are also very important as they often emerge early in January. The little blue Grape Hyacinths will be good too. 

Planting these flowering bulbs will help springtime pollinators survive until the world turns yellow again with Dandelions, Primroses and Cowslips.

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