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Know your bumblebees

Know your bumblebees

by Chris ~ 27 June, 2014 ~ 5 comments

Following on from last week's post, the woodlands blog has often reported on the problems facing honey bees and bumblebees - from the vagaries of climate to the effects of insecticides, such as neonicotinoids.  Whilst it is easy to identify a honey bee and spot a bumblebee, it is somewhat more difficult to say what type of bumblebee might be foraging in your garden or woodland.

There is a lot of information about bumblebees at the bumblebee conservation trust website.  A particularly useful link is "Top tips for bee ID"; tail colour is an important or helpful feature.  Read more...

bumble bee

Bees and bumblebees – neonicotinoids

by Lewis ~ 21 February, 2013 ~ 11 comments

DDT was used an insecticide at the onset of WW2, with great success in terms of controlling malaria and typhus among civilians and troops. After the war, it was available as an agricultural insecticide.  However, within a few years, there were warning signs that not all was well and in 1946, the Soil Association journal read as follows "By the wholesale use of powerful insecticides of which far too little is yet known, we may well be upsetting the whole balance of Nature. We are like schoolboys rat-hunting in a munition dump with a flame-thrower."

Some years later (in 1962),  Rachel Carson published ‘Silent Spring’ – which seriously questioned the use of organochlorines, such as DDT and warned of the dangers of the indiscriminate use of insecticides.  The use of these chemicals continued Read more...

2012 – a rather wet year.

2012 – a rather wet year.

by Lewis ~ 8 January, 2013 ~ 7 comments

It has been a rather strange year.  After another dry winter – March arrived and was one of the warmest and driest on record; consequently, many of us were threatened with restrictions (on hosepipes etc)  as a severe drought threatened - many reservoirs were very low on water.

But then came April, which was one of the wettest recorded in the UK.  Some 121.8 mm of rain fell, beating the previous record of 120.3 mm -which was set in 2000; some parts of the U.K. had three times the ‘normal’ amount of rainfall. June was also very wet and set a record. There then followed the wettest summer as a whole since 1912.   The final rainfall figures for the year have been released and the total rainfall for the UK during 2012 was 1,330.7 mm (52.4in), just 6.6mm short of the record set in 2000.

The big winners in these wet conditions were slugs – including the giant Spanish super slug, or Spanish stealth slug that was reported to be invading gardens.  These have an  ‘enhanced’ breeding cycle producing many more eggs Read more...

Make your own ‘bug hotel’

Make your own ‘bug hotel’

by Stuart ~ 17 September, 2012 ~ one comment

Bugs or invertebrates such as insects, arachnids, centipedes, molluscs, crustaceans and millipedes are an essential part of any ecosystem including our woodlands. In woodland they help create the leaf litter layer and dead wood which adds essential nutrients into the forest ground layer. Some insects pollinate flowers helping to create productive crops, biodiversity and picturesque woodlands. Some even provide us with honey.

The wonderful birdlife we have in this country thrives due to the large number of insects which are essential food stuff for birds, including our woodland birds such as woodpeckers, tree creepers and willow warblers. Read more...

Bees - and the weather.

Bees – and the weather.

by Chris ~ 23 July, 2012 ~ 10 comments

Bees are important pollinators, especially for crops like apples.  The UK apple market is estimated at some £320 M per annum.

Though current estimates vary, it is pretty much certain that this year’s apple harvest will be down, perhaps only 50% of that of a ‘normal’ year.  Though the trees produced blossom in plenty and all looked good for a ‘bumper harvest’ – it then rained and rained.

Because of the weather, there were few bees, bumblebees or other pollinating insects.   This has not been a good year for bees (or indeed, bumblebees).   Why?

Read more...

Chelsea, urban gardens and ecosystem services.

Chelsea, urban gardens and ecosystem services.

by Lewis ~ 7 June, 2012 ~ comments welcome

One of the gold medal winners at this year’s Chelsea Flower show was the garden entitled “Gardening for Champions”.  This garden shows how simple changes to urban gardens can help the environment through

  • Encouraging pollinating insects
  • Saving water
  • Cutting carbon dioxide emissions

The garden, which was designed by Martin Walker, is based on research carried out by academics ** from the University of Leeds; it shows how simple changes to urban gardens can make a positive contribution to ecosystem servicesThe garden offers a number of practical suggestions, Read more...

Forestry Commision - the National Forest Inventory (NFI).

Forestry Commision – the National Forest Inventory (NFI).

by Lewis ~ 2 June, 2011 ~ 2 comments

The Forestry Comission has just announced the first results of the National Forest Inventory (NFI); the NFI replaces the National Inventory of Woodlands and Trees (NIWT).  The 'woods and trees' inventory has been compiled (using various methods) since the 1920’s when there was considerable concern about the ‘stock’ of woodland and timber that could used in an ‘emergency’; e.g. when it was not possible to import timber from Europe or ‘The Empire’ as was the case during WW1. Read more...

Threats to the Honeybee

Threats to the Honeybee

by Chris ~ 18 August, 2010 ~ 11 comments

At the start of the twentieth century, it has been estimated that there were about one million beehives in the U.K. Now the number is about 280,000; there has also been a significant decline in the number of beekeepers. Read more...

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