It’s too hot!”  – the plaintive cry of the average Scotsperson on the first warm day of summer. Never mind all the complaints of cold from the dreich weeks before!

Trees have many vital roles, but one of the most important ones for me right now is their undoubted value as a sunshade. There can surely be few more pleasant places to spend the afternoon on a summer’s day than sat beneath the shade of a tall, spreading chestnut or oak.

But while we’re all slathering on suncream and dreaming of winter, perhaps we should spare a thought for those creatures for whom the sun’s warmth is vital. The trees – hopefully – will be surrounded by wildflowers, and in amongst the colourful blooms a community of butterflies and bees will be hard at work.


Male Early Bumblebee foraging on Cirsium – Photo by Paul Barclay


Lazy summer days aren’t an option for your average bumblebee. They must make the most of every warm day, foraging for pollen and nectar to ensure the survival of the next generation. Bumblebees can only fly if their flight muscles are above 30°C, and if the air temperature isn’t high enough they have to generate that heat themselves by uncoupling their flight muscles and shivering violently. This is one reason you’ll find bumblebees on the ground on a cold day, and you can often help by moving them somewhere warm.

Many butterflies don’t like to fly in anything but the brightest, warmest conditions and days like that are few and far between in Scotland. Last week the Wild Ways Well group were down in Seafar woods and we spotted Meadow Brown, Ringlet, Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies flitting amongst the trees and flowers. If you’d like to join us on our sessions then look out for our events calendar and Facebook page for details.


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Paul Barclay