Bashing Balsam, and bumblebee doziness

Why are bumblebees so dim? In this hot weather I am constantly finding the need to rescue them from our conservatory, but they are resolute in their determination not to be rescued. They find their way in through open doors and windows, but then buzz about the place, crashing into the glass roof and windows, getting crosser and crosser, but never finding the immense gaps through which they entered. You might think that they would be drawn to where the fresher air was coming in, but no, that seems to positively repel them. When you try to persuade them to go in the right direction they get absolutely apoplectic with rage (or so it seems), and when you do manage to trap them and release them outside, the buzz off with do discernible gratitude.

We are frequently told that exhausted bees can be revived with some sugared water: my experience of this is that the wretched insects tend not to want to know, actively moving away from the life-restoring potion. If my eyesight were keener, I am sure I would be able to detect a look of distaste on their little apian faces. Happily, I have had one success where a white-tailed bumble bee actually did extend its proboscis and suck up quite a quantity of liquid. If only my hearing were keener, no doubt I could have detected satisfied slurping sounds. Perhaps I am being too hard on the bees: this afternoon I also had the privilege of having a Hummingbird Hawk Moth join us in the conservatory. Just as daft as a bee, it took some catching before it could be shown the way to go home; too much nectar perhaps.

Anyway, that is by way of a digression. Today, possibly the hottest day of the year so far here in Southrepps, the intrepid team of volunteers resumed our assault on the depredations of the invasive Himalayan Balsam. Readers of previous blog entries on this topic this year will discern that I had missed this pleasure until now, but today there was no hiding place. The hottest day of the year so far is not really the day when you want to dress up in wellies and long sleeved shirts, but this style of clothing is very necessary for the task. A selection of natty dressers is shown below.

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The Balsam lurks in dense vegetation, and seems particularly keen on the company of nettles and brambles. The taller the vegetation the better, so even our tallest volunteers can be hard to spot.

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Here are three dauntless explorers hard at work (well, two of them; the other is praying for the break).

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It is customary in these reports of Balsam Bashing to include a photo of a volunteer with a particularly tall specimen of the plant, so here is Kevin with a tall friend.

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Quite apart from pulling up Balsam plants, slapping biting insects and dodging nettles, there were some opportunities to actually enjoy some of the wildlife on the Common. We saw a dragonfly (no idea what species), a green veined white butterfly, and best of all so far as I was concerned, a gorgeous Banded Demoiselle damselfly. This photo from our website was taken a few years ago.

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Here is Balsam basher in chief Margaret’s message of thanks:

“Sorry for the delay in thanks but I collapsed in front of the tennis then one had to see the football!!!

Thank you so much for your sterling efforts in very testing conditions. With having got it so early I hope we will have prevented a lot if seeding. If you can bear it I suggest a rematch next Sunday.

Margaret”