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And is there honey still for tea?

And is there honey still for tea?

by Chris ~ 25 July, 2019 ~ comments welcome

Declining bee populations in Europe have caused alarm in recent years and the decline has been attributed to a multitude of factors / causes, for example :-

  • Climate change
  • Pesticides - especially neonicotinoids
  • Varroa mites
  • Viruses

Now Russia is reporting mass bee deaths and major declines in their bee populations in recent months.  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...

honeybee on lavender

A different perspective on the honey bee – Apis mellifera.

by Chris ~ 14 September, 2018 ~ 2 comments

This month a paper appeared in the Science Mag authored by people at the Cambridge Conservation Group; it argues that the present focus on the (western) honey bee (Apis mellifera) is misguided.

The honey bee is indeed the most important single species for crop pollination, and there has been a rapid growth in the number of managed colonies over the last 50 years.  This is especially true in areas where this honey bee species has been introduced.  It was introduced to the Americas in the 1600’s.   Read more...

foraging bee

Bumblebees ‘hooked’ on neonicotinoids?

by Chris ~ 1 September, 2018 ~ comments welcome

Researchers at Imperial College, London (Dr Andres Arce, Dr. Richard Gill et al) have been conducting field trials on the foraging behaviour of bumblebees and the effect of neonicotinoids.  As wild bees have a choice on where they feed, the researchers wanted to know if the bees could detect insecticides and learn to avoid them. Read more...

Bumblebee update - brief notes

Bumblebee update – brief notes

by Chris ~ 28 August, 2018 ~ comments welcome

The yellow banded bumblebee (Bombus terricola) is a North American species of bumblebee.  It has been in decline across its range.  This bumblebee is now down to about 10% of its former numbers.   Recently, its genome has been sequenced at York University, Canada.  This genetic analysis shows that the bumblebees are inbreeding.  As bees become more inbred, the face difficulties in maintaining their population numbers.  As population become smaller, there is a greater risk of inbreeding.  Inbred bees have problems in terms of fertility.  Males can become infertile so that if they mate with a queen, there are no offspring or the queen may produce sterile males instead of worker bees. Read more...

Buzz pollination and bumblebees

Buzz pollination and bumblebees

by Chris ~ 11 August, 2018 ~ Comments Off on Buzz pollination and bumblebees

Bumblebees are important pollinators; their bodies are often seen covered with pollen grains.   However, when visiting certain flowers they have a special mechanism for releasing the pollen grains from the anthers (the special sacs on the stamens).    This mechanism is known as sonication or buzz pollination.   When visiting flowers of the potato / tomato family (the Solanaceae) or blueberries, they land on the flower, use their mouth parts to hold onto a stamen and then use rapid contractions of their (thoracic)  flight muscles to make the stamen vibrate.  The effect of these vibrations is to allow the pollen to be released from the tube-like anthers from a pore or small slits (poricidal stamens). 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...

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