One of my jobs this summer is to carry out timed observations of our bee-friendly bedding plant trials using the Blooms for Bees app. Initial bumblebee activity on the three colours of Dahlia ‘Mignon’ has not yet been as buzzy as I had hoped; although the plants started flowering two to three weeks ago, they are only just starting pick up pace and in my first set of observations, I only saw one Buff-tailed and one White-tailed Bumblebee. Fortunately, these plants will bloom until the first frosts, so there is plenty of time in the coming weeks to do more observations, and we have found other insects also love the Dahlia’s, including pollen beetles and a wide range of hoverflies.
To use the Blooms for Bees app, just select your location, the plant you are observing, number of floral units and begin the survey. It is possible to click away from the app if you find it easier to take the photos in quick succession on the camera of your device and upload the best one, rather than taking them one at a time using the app (the timer will carry on counting down the 5 minutes). Being able to click away means you can also view the bee guide whilst carrying out the survey.
I am also using the app to complete surveys of Chaenostoma ‘Abunda Colossal Series’ and Bird’s foot trefoil plants. The chaenostoma have been flowering for longer than the dahlias and I have seen some great bee activity on all three colours, with the most common visitor being the Buff-tailed Bumblebee.
Bumblebees also seem to love the Bird’s foot trefoil and it is showing a lot of potential as a container plant, trailing attractively over the sides of the pots. The most frequently spotted bumblebee on the Bird’s foot trefoil so far is the Red-tailed Bumblebee.