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wasp

Why wasps ?

by Lewis ~ 28 January, 2018 ~ one comment

Generally speaking, honey bees and bumblebees have a "good press", wasps do not.  Bees are associated with honey and the pollination of flowers and fruit trees.  Wasps are often associated with being stung and with disrupting our meals when dining "al fresco".

Why is it that wasps want to invade our space and our meals?   

Wasps, like bees, like sugary things (e.g. nectar).  During the Spring and Summer, wasps can obtain sugars from the larvae that they are rearing back in their nest. The worker wasps hunt for insects in our gardens amongst the flowers and vegetables, and take back their prey to the nest.  The prey is then fed to the larvae - which need a protein-rich diet in order to grow.   In return,  the larvae secrete (from their salivary glands) a sugar-rich fluid and the adults feed upon this. Read more...

What the bees see .......

What the bees see …….

by Chris ~ 25 October, 2017 ~ one comment

Flower-visiting insects evolved in the Cretaceous Period (about 100 million years ago) -  a time when the major flower groups (Monocotyledons and Dicotyledons) came into being.  Flowers have a number of “ploys’ to encourage pollinators to visit them - for example, by their colour, scent, reflectance, size, outline, temperature, motion and nectar guides. The latter are markings or patterns on the petals and floral parts to guide bees, bumblebees or other pollinators towards the nectar and to encourage pollination.  This link (click here) shows how a flower might appear to a bee or butterfly - due their sensitivity to U.V light. Read more...

feed the birds .......

feed the birds …….

by Lewis ~ 7 October, 2017 ~ comments welcome

At this time of year, berries and other fruits form a valuable part of the diet of many wild animals, but particularly birds (such as blackbirds, thrushes,  fieldfares and redwings) and small mammals.  They will feast on berries and fruits through the autumnal and winter months.

Many fruits of hedgerow and garden plants are berries.  Botanically speaking, a berry is a fruit formed from the ovary of a single flower and the outer layer of the ovary wall develops into an edible, fleshy portion (the pericarp). Berries are generally juicy, rounded, brightly coloured, they may be sweet or sour, and inside there may be many pips or seeds - they do not have a ‘stone’.  The tissues of the berry will be rich in sugars, starches, some protein and various minerals.  Read more...

Moorland, heather and bees

Moorland, heather and bees

by David R C ~ 17 September, 2016 ~ one comment

What’s so special about heather moorland to beekeepers?  Heather is a small plant known scientifically as Calluna vulgaris, or more commonly ling heather.  As the beekeeping season is winding down elsewhere, the small purple flowers that are a characteristic feature of moorland’s stunning scenery are just opening.  The nectar they produce results in a highly sought after and delicious honey, making it worth all the hard work (both on the part of the bees and the beekeeper) that goes into producing it. Read more...

Bees, oilseed rape and foraging

Bees, oilseed rape and foraging

by Chris ~ 2 September, 2016 ~ comments welcome

The woodlands' blog has often reported on the problems that face honey bees and bumblebees - our important pollinators (see the list of related blogs in the right hand column on this page). Now there is an important report from the CEH (Centre for Ecology and Hydrology) that has looked at the state of the populations of wild bees such as the furrow bee, mason bee.

Most research to date has focused on the effect of insecticides, particularly the neonicotinoids on the  behaviour of  honey bees and bumblebees.   However, the CEH team was able to use data that had been collected by the bees, wasps and ants recording scheme - their data extended back to 1994 and involved some 62 species.   Read more...

honey bee on lavender

Pollution, bees and foraging.

by Lewis ~ 27 July, 2016 ~ 2 comments

Sadly, our air is polluted with many different chemicals from anthropogenic sources - particularly the burning of fuels.  Many of these chemicals have been implicated as exacerbating a number of health conditions - notably heart disease, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), stroke and lung cancer.  Common pollutants are particulates (from diesel), ozone and nitrogen oxides.  These pollutants not only affect us but also many different plants and animals.

Recent research at Penn State University has revealed that ozone interacts with plant scents (volatile oils) and degrades them.  As a result the scents are less effective in attracting pollinators (bees and bumblebees) to the flowers. Read more...

Poor pollination and pesticides

Poor pollination and pesticides

by Chris ~ 3 April, 2016 ~ 3 comments

Dr Dara Stanley of New Holloway, University of London has been looking at the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on the ‘efficiency’ of bumblebee pollination of apples.  Several studies have already implicated these pesticides in the decline of foraging behaviour of bees / bumblebees.  As some 30% of agricultural crops depend on pollination by bees and  bumblebees, hover flies and other arthropods (with an estimated global value in excess of $350 billion / year) then the effects of these pesticides needs to be evaluated, so that informed debate on the banning or restriction  of their use can take place.

Dr Stanley and associates exposed some bumblebees to ‘low’ levels of neonicotinoids (such as might be found in wild flowers), others were exposed to no pesticide.  Read more...

The birds and the bees,  insecticides and wildlife

The birds and the bees, insecticides and wildlife

by Lewis ~ 24 November, 2015 ~ one comment

The woodlands' blog has often reported on the problems that bees and bumblebees are facing; these range from habitat loss & fragmentation, changing agricultural practices, parasites (varroa) and viruses, climate change and extreme climate events and the use of pesticides (particularly neonicotinoids).

Now there is evidence accumulating that the decline in various bird species  (sparrows, swallows and tree starlings) can be correlated with the use of insecticides.   A group of researchers from Birdlife (Netherlands), the Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology and Radboud University, Institute of Water and Wetland Research have been studying bird population declines at the turn of the century.  Read more...

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