It is at about this time every year that I get the urge to get back into the garden.
After a long break from enjoying time well spent digging and sitting, enjoying my outdoor space I am ready to dig in again. It is still winter and the wildlife that have overwintered there need protection from the elements, don't forget this.
As temperatures rise (for what may only be a long weekend) such as the weather we have had forecast for this coming weekend it is oh so tempting to begin the first tidy up of our outdoor space.
Most often the first flying insects we will observe are the bumblebees of the bee species.
They like many insects adapt annually to climate change and therefore can emerge from their cold winter nesting sites earlier one year than from the last and so on. As bees can fly in cooler temperatures than butterflies it explains why they are so often the first garden visitors we see alighting on any early blooms.
The various species of British bumblebee have a very different strategy to honeybees. They have an annual life cycle. After the new queens are produced and mate in the summer and autumn, the workers, males and old queens die off by winter time.
Typically, the newly-mated queens hibernate through winter. They burrow into soft earth or under logs and stones to escape the frost, preferring north-facing banks where they will avoid being warmed up too early by the winter sun. Despite this, some may still emerge confused on warm winter days.
At this time of year the small delicate Snowdrops have their place in the food fuelling station. Don't be in any hurry to pull up the more unsightly of flowers, weeds to us perhaps but so vital to our garden inhabitors.
Here is a link to a very informative blog from The Woodland Trust about what happens to our bees in the winter months.