We have noticed that the bumblebee populations in our area have been in decline for the past then years or so. Even with all of our efforts to try to support their populations at the Genuine Faux Farm, we haven't been seeing them as much as we have in the past.
That doesn't mean we have given up and it doesn't mean we don't keep trying to do things to support those populations on our farm. And sometimes, we do something that turns out to be a bigger "win" than we anticipated.
A couple of years ago, we picked up a few comfrey plants and, not being exactly certain where their "permanent" home was going to be, we planted them in a corner of Valhalla, our larger high tunnel. The idea was to transplant them out eventually to the spots we wanted them to go. Wherever that ended up being.
But, that first year, things got busy... You know how that goes. And the second year, the plants flowered like crazy and we noticed the bumblebees loved them. Suddenly, the area around Valhalla was a favorite location for these fascinating pollinators.
I liked that. And, frankly, the plants were getting pretty big. Transplanting might not have been an option at that point anyway.
This year, Valhalla is in its other position, so the comfrey are outside for the year. When you walk by that area on any sunny day, you can hear a buzz coming from that cluster of plants - a sound we welcome.
When I first noticed the sound of happy pollinators, I expected to see several types of them. But, upon closer inspection, there were just A LOT of bumblebees in there.
All I can say is - "I am a fan." Maybe we should find a way to add more comfrey to the farm?
Would you like to learn more about comfrey? I suggest this read from the Amisfield Walled Garden. Or, if you want more focus on the benefits of comfrey in the garden, try this article from Wisconsin Pollinators.
This link to the hort pages at the University of Purdue features work done at the University of Minnesota and University of Wisconsin - Madison. Comfrey has been considered an alternative cash crop until recently, when research showed that consumption of comfrey may not be an entirely healthy option.
If you like a bit more research, there have been studies that look at the visits of pollinators (specifically bumblebees) to comfrey flowers.
See, we can learn something new together even if it's not Postal History Sunday!