The Winter Honeysuckle, second of January 2014

Honey bees on winter honeysuckle

After such a spell of rainy weather it was good to see some sunshine.

bee close

In the winter when its sunny I like to see what the Winter Honeysuckle is attracting.

bee light flower

Today it was full of honey bees.  They do not appreciate the rain and today it was warm enough not only for a cleansing flight but to collect nectar.


The bees were by far in the majority but I did see one Syrphid fly.

little fly

…a tiny black fly

steel blue fly

…and a larger fly that looks as if it has a carapace of shiny blue grey steel.

bee with pollen

The honey bees seemed only interested in the nectar apart from this bee who was multi-tasking and taking nectar at the same time as moving the pollen around with her feet.  Perhaps it was only a grooming action as I saw no filled pollen baskets.

Bee flying

It was good to feel the sunshine, enjoy the warm temperature and watch the honeybees but I had been expecting the warm temperatures to have woken up some of the hibernating queen bumble bees.  The bumble bees are attracted to the winter honeysuckle but I saw none today, perhaps tomorrow I will be luckier.


7 thoughts on “The Winter Honeysuckle, second of January 2014

  1. I’ve seen some yellow-faced bumblebee queens (Bombus vosnesenskii) on the heather, but not much else is blooming right now. I’d love to find some honeysuckle in bloom.


    • This honeysuckle is not a climber but a bush and flowers in the winter time so it provides nectar at a scarce time. I have two very small clumps of heather I’ve just started to grow. Most heather prefers acid soil but these are able to grow on our limy soil. I was a bit sceptical but they have survived and are now flowering but I haven’t seen any bees on them yet. I am going to look up B. vosesenskii they sound lovely.


  2. Your syrphid is the Marmalade Hover Fly Episyrphus balteatus; the small black fly is Muscidae/Fannidae/Anthomyiidae – I can’t tell from the photo and they aren’t families I bother with much (laziness, as they are too difficult); the metallic one is Calliphoridae, probably Bellardia sp. Super photos and observations, as ever. Thanks for keeping the blog up. Happy New Year, with much happiness and good health to you!


    • Happy New Year to you too, Susan! Thank you so much for the fly ID’s, I did not think anyone would recognise them, I just thought it was only fair to give them a look in when they had been so good to pose for me. Today there was a Peacock butterfly snacking on the honeysuckle nectar, we often see them around during the winter when it is mild. It has been 15 to 16 degrees in the garden these past couple of days but not very sunny.


  3. Happy New Year and thanks for the interesting pictures. It’s been so wet in the UK recently that there has not been much to see but I was in Dorset on the 29th December and saw a bumblebee flying. It was a sunny day and there was mahonia in flower nearby but despite searching I could not locate the bee on a flower.


    • Happy New Year to you, too. I would suspect that it had been visiting the Mahonia. I have bought a Mahonia in the UK for the garden and brought back a few straggly seedlings we found so I’ve great hopes for flowers in the future but I do not know how long it takes them to flower. It has been very wet over Christmas here too and our sun has now been replaced with more heavy rain but it is still very mild.


  4. How amazing to have such active bees at the turn of the year… though I realise you live in a warmer and less damp place than the UK. The last bumblebee I saw was in the first half of December, and it looked very drowsy… Belated Happy New Year to you, I’m playing ‘liked-blog catch up-. People seem to have got the habit of multiple posting every day – where does their time come from? RH


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