We meet monthly from March to October and walk the same route every time, noting the bumblebees (and other bees) that we spot. There are 7 common bumblebees in our area and we normally see buff and white tailed ones, red tailed and tree bumblebees. We also see common carder bees and occasionally cuckoo bees. These parasitic bees lay their eggs in bumblebee nests and rely on host workers to feed their young. Bees are normally buzzing from flower to flower collecting nectar and pollen for their nest, but if you see some just chilling in flowers, they’re normally cuckoo bees.
This is a ‘proper’ research group and we report our findings to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. We agree the route with them first, and make sure that we only record bees at a set distance from us, so there is no double-recording and our figures can be relied on. Our original walk is across the common, but last year we added another walk at Tunbridge Wells Cemetery. We’ve learnt where to find them at different times of the year, when there is plentiful food. On the Common they rely on dandelions, gorse, blackberries and ivy flowers. We see many more at the Cemetery, as flower beds are planted with lots of bee friendly plants and there are weeds in the older areas. In July, we saw nearly 300 there, compared with 19 on the Common!
We all know how important insect pollinators are, but bumblebees in particular are one of the few species that can pollinate important crops such tomatoes, blueberries, kiwis and aubergines. So, understanding their spread and numbers is very important, especially as they are in decline. Extra eyes are always useful, if you want to join us next year (2024)
Contact details are available from the Groups page.
LOCAL WALKS BOOKLETS
Updated by our members and printed in 2020, these booklets
will add interest to your walks in Tunbridge Wells.
Book 1 covers Mount Sion, the High Street and Grove Hill Road.
Book 2 covers ‘Calverley New Town’, Camden Road and the Town Centre.
Book 3 covers Mount Ephraim, The Boyne Park Area and London and Inner London Road.
**Now £5 per set and available at the monthly coffee mornings and talks**