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The flowers are listening !

The flowers are listening !

by Chris ~ 8 May, 2019 ~ one comment

Sound is part and parcel of life.  The nervous system of animals are attuned to it; it serves to inform them of danger, of food, of mates etc.  We do not think of plants are being sensitive to or responsive to sound - though some people are convinced that talking to plants helps them to grow better (this might be due to an enhanced level of carbon dioxide near to the plants).  However, some recent studies by Professor Lilach Hadany (of Tel Aviv University) and her colleagues suggest that some plants can respond to certain sounds that bees produce. Read more...

Insect Pollinators in decline

Insect Pollinators in decline

by Lewis ~ 13 April, 2019 ~ one comment

The science journal Nature has published the results of another insect survey, specifically of pollinating insects.   The UK pollinator monitoring scheme looked at some 353 species of bees, bumblebees and hoverflies.  The survey analysed 700,000+ sightings of pollinating insects over thirty years or more (1980 to 2013).  The survey yielded information about the changes in the range of these different pollinators - that is the different parts of the countryside that these insects were found in.  The survey did not attempt to determine actual numbers of bees etc in an area.   There were “winners and losers’ in the survey but the overall picture was somewhat depressing. Read more...

The mite that kills honeybees - Varroa destructor.

The mite that kills honeybees – Varroa destructor.

by Chris ~ 22 February, 2019 ~ comments welcome

The woodland’s blog has repeatedly reported on the state of honeybee populations and the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder / syndrome.  Three principal factors have been held responsible for the decline in honey bee numbers :

Amongst the parasites, various viruses have been associated with decline - such as deformed wing virus (DWV), sacbrood virus (SBV) and black queen cell virus (BQCV).  These viruses are spread within the colonies (hives) by the activity of mites, specifically the varroa mite.  It has generally been assumed that whilst the mite feeds off of a honeybee (by hitching a ride on the bee), it did no great harm.   However, recent work by Samuel Ramsey et al (formerly at the University of Maryland) suggest that it is the mites’ feeding activities that are ultimately responsible for the death of the bees. Read more...

The Great British Bee Count (and App) - 2018.

The Great British Bee Count (and App) – 2018.

by Chris ~ 19 May, 2018 ~ one comment

This week saw the start of the 2018 Great British Bee Count.  The aim of the count is to estimate the number of bumblebees and solitary bees that are buzzing around this year.  As the woodlands blog has reported on many occasions, bees and bumblebees are threatened by viruses, mites, pesticides*, inclement weather, habitat loss etc - so a count across the country (from John O'Groats to Land's End) is a 'good thing' informing, for example, the Pollinator Monitoring Scheme how bees and bumblebees are faring across the country.  The information also contributes to the  National Biodiversity Network Atlas  (NBN), which records the current status of all species in the U.K.

To help with this, there is a smart phone App - available for either iPhones or Android Phones.  The App enables you to submit sightings of bumblebees and bees (with photos where possible) Read more...

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...

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