Chelsea Creek – first year report

Following clearance of dense evergreen shrubs in July 2021, the 100 square meters now has many unshaded areas of direct sunlight where bees can bask to warm themselves.

There is more variety of year-round, low maintenance nectar-rich bee-friendly flowering plants for long and short-tongued bees including wild mallow, chicory, thistles, ragwort and sow thistle. Patches of flowers, such as Lamb’s ear and Comfrey have also been planted to provide mating habitat and nesting material.

Nesting sites have been installed – although bees aren’t nesting yet. Sand mounds need to be created for mining bees.

A variety of bees have been spotted on site Including:

  1. Buff-tailed bumblebee (queens and workers)
  2. Common carder bees (workers)
  3. Hairy-footed flower bees (males and females)
  4. Leafcutter bees (females)
  5. Short-fringed mining bee (female)
  6. Furrow bees (males and females)
  7. Small scissor bee (males and females)
  8. Honey bees (workers).

In addition, moths, ladybirds, butterflies, hoverflies, dragon flies and a number of different bird species have been recorded, including robins, wrens and gold finches.

Downsides

Lack of irrigation on site has hindered some of the plants that could provide good sources of nectar and pollen from growing, given the drought we have had this summer. There are still irrigation hoses laid on site but they don’t appear to work.

The soil is too rich for many wild flowers to flourish, and instead has led to an abundance of grasses that don’t provide food for bees.

Red mason bees have not nested in the bee hotels. This could be due to lack of suitable forage flowering in late spring.

Conclusion

A diversity of bee species are now visiting the site throughout spring and summer to feed, but most do not appear to be nesting. More planting and nesting sites are required, and irrigation to ensure the site can sustain forage during a drought.

You can read in more detail about the first year journey of this project: the flowers that sprouted from nowhere, the insects that appeared, and the many challenges, in 3 earlier blogs: August 2021, April 2022 and July 2022.

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