Solstice Visitors

by | Jun 22, 2012 | Uncategorized | 9 comments

 The word has got out. Yesterday was winter solstice, marking the return of the sun. The day before yesterday was Matariki, the Maori new year, marking the return of Matariki (the Pleiades). Who knows where this monarch flew from, but this morning here it was, alighting on the jade bush,

flitting around from one flower to the next with such grace, like a messenger from other realms, telling of colour, lightness and freedom.

 And then another visitor arrived. I was excited to see it, and I’ll tell you why. Two years ago the jade bush was covered with bumble bees. I did a post about it, and gave the background to the disappearance of the bumble bee in Britain, and the failed attempt to send crates of hibernating bees from New Zealand. You will find the post on

 But last year there wasn’t a single one to be found, and I feared that the bumble bees were disappearing from New Zealand as well. See
Today a lone bee buzzed in. It clambered clumsily over the flowers and leaves, and made quite a contrast with the elegance of the monarch.

It – well, it bumbled around. This bee is well-named., as it was In Thomas Hardy’s Dorset where they were called dumbledores by the farm workers.

At winter solstice, although I know that the sun has begun its return journey, I don’t always feel it. But today was warm, and with these hopeful visitors, I can believe that the return to summer has begun.

P.S. On the news I heard that short-haired bumble bees have now been sent from Sweden (50 Queens) to England, where they haven’t been sighted for 24 years. In Kent they are planting bee-friendly plants such as clovers and vetches, in readiness. I hope the bumble bees survive. I feel great affection for their bumbling ways.


  1. anissa ljanta

    we have lots of bumblebees around here in summer…i’ll whisper to them to head up the coast a bit! I have a thing about bees, and how their challenges are a warning to us…i wonder about the way of beekeeping (especially in the US where beekeepers have tens of thousands of hives and truck them around) and how much that has to do with decline and their health issues too..

  2. juliet

    Hi Anissa, it’s good to know that the bumblebees are thriving on the coast. Their declining numbers is certainly a warning to us.

  3. Lynley

    I love the soft colours and light in your photos Juliet. It made me feel more like summertime than this dull midwinter light we have here today.

    We seem to have plenty of bumble bees here. They defy many aspects of physics and manage to fly.

    But they will be sheltering today because of the gales that are blowing here right now.

    They are very special to us.

  4. juliet

    Lynley, thank you for your kind comments. Yes, it was like a moment of summer. I’m glad to hear that the bumble bees are doing well down your way.

  5. Hotly Spiced

    When I moved from NZ to Australia I was so surprised that there are no bumble bees here. And I do miss them. They really do bumble about and they are gorgeous. Amazing to see one in the dead of winter! And yes, I too was very pleased to pass over the hump of the shortest day xx

  6. juliet

    Charlie, how sad to have no bumble bees! But at least the light is returning.

  7. lifeonthecutoff

    Three cheers for your little bumbler! I always feel a sense of excitement and wonder when I see the first bumblebee each year, Juliet.

    Here on the Cutoff they have already been pretty busy, flitting into and out of the hosta blooms, the sage, the nepeta . . . the coneflowers (echinacea) and daisies are just starting to open, so, hopefully we will have them buzzing all around soon.

    It was interesting to see the bees called dumbledores.

  8. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – I’ve noted the Pleiades aspect .. as I’ll link across when I post a bit more about the Gold Exhibition – as the Pleiades feature there too …

    Glad you updated about the bees here in England .. the world is in a sorry plight if these disappear ..

    Amazing to think the Monarch and bees are out in deepest NZ winter .. and we’re still exceedingly damp here .. with a few wildeee beesties around thankfully – not many though ..

    Cheers Hilary

  9. juliet

    * Penny, it’s so good to hear of your bumble bees out in force and enjoying the flowers. thank you.

    * Hilary, I hope your summer dries out soon, and that the bumble bees return to England. I’ll be interested to see your post that includes the Pleiades – a constellation that seems to have had a universal impact across the world. Thank you.


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