Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Garden Bumblebees
Bumblebees are insects of temperate climates. Quite different
Bombus lapidarius - another large bee which likes to land on
from honey bees and solitary bees, they live in small colonies
ﬂ owers with horizontal massed ’platforms’ e.g. Daisy family,
of up to 200-300 and with their densely furry bodies can be
active even in dull conditions. They are constantly busy in the
garden, foraging for nectar and pollen, helping to pollinate
Bombus pratorum - small agile size and medium-length
tongue means it can probe a range of ﬂ ower depths; able to
visit upside-down and drooping ﬂ owers such as Comfrey and
Up to 25 species of bumblebee live in the UK. Many are found
only in habitats such as moorland or in coastal areas; only 6
or 7 species are widespread and visit gardens. There are also 6
Bombus pascuorum - long-tongued for long-tubed ﬂ owers,
species of ’cuckoo’ bumblebees, that mimic other species and
especially late ﬂ owers of White deadnett le, but also visits a
wide variety of ﬂ owers. Male bees seem to visit compound
daisy-like ﬂ owers (e.g Marsh Thistle) more than females.
In the last 30 years, two bumblebee species are known to have
become extinct in this country, and many more have suffered
This factsheet suggests flowers and planting schemes to
attract bumblebees, and shows how you can make special
Planting for bees
30 plants popular with bu mblebeesBetony, Bugle, Alkanet, Comfrey, Clovers, Buddleia, Field
Early and late ﬂ owers, together with some bee favourites,
bean, Foxglove, Knapweed, Thistles, Lavender, Viper’s
will give a long supply of nectar. Planting in dense drift s; bees
Bugloss, Verbascums, Woundworts, White deadnett le,
learn to recognise certain nectar - rewarding ﬂ owers and
Chives, Borage, Single larkspurs, Nasturium, Rosemary,
will revisit these repeatedly. Some bees have preferences for
Catmint, Toadﬂ ax, Figwort, Marjoram, Curry plant,
Snapdragon, Sage and mints, Cranesbills, Agastache.
Bombus terrestris and Bombus lucorum - Short open ﬂ owers
e.g White Clover, Comfrey, Field Bean. Both are hole-biting
Bluebells, Primrose, Dandelion, White deadnett le, Aubretia,
’nectar robbers’ (see below.) B. terrestris rarely visit pendulous
Wallﬂ ower, Single crocus, Flowering currant, Hazel, Forget-
ﬂ owers - its large size means it is oft en not agile enough to so.
me-not, Pussy willow, Winter heather.
Bombus hortorum - has a long tongue so can visit ﬂ owers
with petals forming long tubes such as Honeysuckle,
Michaelmas daisies, Ivy, Buddleia, Goldenrod, Sedum,
Lavender, Escallonia, Echinacea, Ceanothus, Red valerian.
‘Garden’ bumblebee. White-tailed, with extra yellow
stripe on it’s abdomen. Medium sized. Flying May –
Making a bumblebee nest for the garden
White-tailed with no extra yellow stripe. Medium
sized. Flying from April – September. BUILDING A BUMBLEBEE BOX RED-TAILED
• Build a 100 mm x 100 mm x 200 mm box with a lid, from
wood. Cut an entrance hole at the bottom of the box. By the
Red-tailed bumblebee. All black body with red tail.
end of April, dig a hole in a dry, well drained spot and place
BIG! Flying from April – September.
• Force a rod or pipe (25-30 mm wide) into the ground so that it
Yellow striped with orange-red tail. Small sized.
• Place bedding material such as dry grass, straw, or
upholsterer’s cotton (but not cotton wool) in the box, close the
All black body with red tail and red hair fringing hind
lid and cover over with e.g turf, logs or a paving stone.
legs. Small sized. Flying from April – September.
• Plant a 10 cm tall stick upright nearby as a ’marking post’ to
help bees find their way back to the nest.
‘Carder’ bee. No stripes, usually all brown, but quite
IN A CLAY FLOWER POT
variable. Small sized and late ﬂ ying June – October.
• By the end of April, half bury a 9”/225 mm deep clay
ﬂ owerpot in a dry, well drained, sheltered, sunny ﬂ owerbed
or hedge bott om so that the drainage hole in the base faces
A Living Landscape is a recovery plan for nature, championed
• Att ach a short 5-6 cm length of hosepipe (25-30 mm wide) to
by The Wildlife Trusts since 2006. It is a new way of thinking
about how we manage land to do more for wildlife, people
• Add some bedding material such as pets’ bedding, dry grass,
straw, or upholsterer’s cott on (not cott on wool.)
• Cover over the rest of the pot with soil or vegetation so that
Our gardens represent a vast living landscape; and with an
estimated 16 million gardens in the UK, the way they are
• Plant a 10 cm tall stick upright nearby - bees may use this as
managed can made a big diﬀ erence to wildlife.
a ’marking post’ to help them ﬁ nd their way back to the
Across gardens and beyond, our vision to create A Living
Landscape involves enlarging, improving and joining-up areas
Seven species you might meet in
of wildlife-rich land in all parts of the UK. There are now over
100 inspirational Living Landscape schemes around the UK,
rich in opportunities for sustainability, learning, bett er health
What is good for wildlife is good for people too.
Buﬀ -tailed bumblebee. ‘Tail’ quite variable white-
yellow. BIG! Flying from June – October.
For more information go to www.wildlifetrusts.org
Registered charity no 259558 Limited company no 959609 www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk 01889 880100
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