We only occasionally get these little heath bumblebees in our garden. As the name suggests they are more common in upland areas, particularly bogs and heaths but they are recorded in gardens too. I took these photos on the shores of Lough Cullin here in County Mayo, last weekend.
Bombus jonellus Queen
There was a couple of queens and one very small worker, who practically dissappeared into the flowers as it searched for pollen and nectar.
Bombus jonellus worker
Heath bumblebees are one of the smallest of Ireland’s white tailed bumbles and they have three yellow brands making them look quite yellow.
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Yesterday, this little wren accidentally got into the house.
Most of the doors and windows are open as we experience exceptionally warm days, with yesterday temperatures reaching 25 degrees Celsius. Normal May temperatures in the west of Ireland tend to be in the mid-high teens.
The wrens had converted last year’s swallow’s nest into their own nest and have been busy feeding the chicks the last couple of weeks. The young appear to have just fledged. This little fellow proved hard enough to catch! But my husband, a trained bird ringer, got him eventually.
We didn’t think it would wait around to be photographed, but either because of the shock of being caught, or the near-by presence of one of it’s parents (with beak full of food), it stayed long enough for me to get a couple of shots, before making a short, yet confident flight to the beech hedge.
During lunch we watched both parents come and go with more food to the hedge. The fledglings remained concealed though so we are not sure how many there are.
Wrens are among Ireland’s smallest birds. The female lay clutches of 5-8 eggs, and she alone will incubate them. They feed on insects and spiders. Both parents will help feed the young. For more information can check out Birdwatch Ireland’s Wren page.
We are already half way through Ireland’s biodiversity week, and computer issues and work have meant that I am only now getting around post about it. Biodiversity Week, which runs from 17th to the 27th May 2018, aims to celebrate all of Ireland’s wonderful biodiversity and looks at connecting people with nature. There are lots of events, walls, talks and workshops.
There are many simple things you can do to connect with nature in your own garden. Since starting my garden here 13 years ago, one of my main aims has been to increase biodiversity.
Here are some of my tips.
- Plant trees. Fruit trees are a great option as they provide spring blossom for many pollinators and of course fruit later in the season.
Green veined white on apple blossom
- Plant flowers. I love native wildflowers and have flowers meadows as well as including wild flowers in my flowers beds and vegetable patch.
- Plant a hedge. We have blackbirds, and dunnocks nesting in our hedge this year.
hedge with climbing rose
- Dig a pond. Ponds attract frogs, newts and many aquatic insects including amazing dragonflies.
Frogs in pond
- Put up some bird, bat and solitary bee boxes.
- Get involved in some citizen science Programmes. This week the National Biodiversity Data Centre are encouraging everyone to send in their butterfly records.
Today, Sunday 20th May, is World Bee Day. It is a day to celebrate our wonderful bees, but it is also a day to reflect on how bee populations continue to decline.
Carder bumblebee on apple blossom
Bees recorded in the 2017 National Bee Monitoring Scheme showed their lowest numbers since 2012. A total population loss of just over 14% has been recorded between 2012-2017.
There are things we can all do to help bees. Here is just a few examples:
- Join a bee monitoring scheme. These citizen science programmes are a great way to learn more about bees yourself, but also contribute important information about the health of bee populations.
- Plants some flowers! Ideally pollinator-friendly flowers. For example, cottage garden varieties (e.g. delphiniums), nasturtiums, herbs and heathers. It is also important to have flowers from early spring to the first frost to provide food throughout the season.
- Don’t be too tidy. Leave areas of tall vegetation for nesting bumblebees, leave vegetables (particularly overwintering brassicas to flower) allow dandelions to flower before mowing lawns.
- And finally enjoy bees!
Bumblebee drone sharing Allium
White tailed Bumblebee
Early bumblebee on cranesbill
White tailed bumblebee, Bombus Lucorum
For more information check out the following pollinator website.
Work can be busy and I find myself juggling various tasks, but get out in the garden, even just to water the greenhouse plants, and I feel calm restoring. Without a doubt it is one of my places in the world.
I thought I was behind in my gardening jobs but reading back over my garden notebook I see that I have been here before.
24th May 2009
Still very little done outside. May has continues wet and windy. Planted some main-crop potatoes today (golden wonder), Robinta still to go in
12th May 2013
A wet spring and now May continues wet and windy….Lots of things germinated but still very small and too cold to put out. Outside I have planted some broadbeans which are getting battered by the wind………….
I keep a notebook mainly to have a visual plan of my garden beds so that I can rotate my crops each year. Things don’t always work out the way I planned them but it is still good practice.
I have been working at clearing weeds from the vegetable plots, as the wet autumn and winter meant that these were left pretty much untouched since last September! So now I am struggling to remove well-rooted grasses and creeping buttercup.
We have garlic and onions growing in a part of the chicken field and I had enough space to add some parsnip and carrot though there is not much sign of seedlings yet. Some, but not all the potatoes are in too.
In the greenhouse, plants such as beetroot, cabbages, beans and squashes are growing and will hopefully be ready for planting out in a few weeks. We are harvesting salad crops, spinach and leaf-beet from the greenhouse and outside we have a small enough crop of sprouting broccoli.
The blue fence around the flower garden has been repainted and we are half way through treatment the wood on the greenhouse.
There are always jobs in the garden, but they are jobs I don’t mind doing!
This month’s Monthly Meet-up Photo Challenge hosted by Wild Daffodil asks us to consider flower as our theme. You may have already noticed that I am a fan of spring flowers. And the humble dandelion is no exception. In fact, you may have noticed that the same flower already featured in last month’s challenge “yellow“.
Well since then, the dandelions around us have really come into their own. They adorn my “lawn”, the road verges and many fields. They are like a milky way of yellow and green. Often seen only as a “weed”, the dandelion has so much to offer. You can make salad from the young leaves, wine from it flowers, and a coffee substitute from its roots.
As some of you will have heard me say before, dandelions are also great for bees, butterflies and hoverflies. These pollinators were all using the flowers when I completed my bee and butterfly transect last Saturday. Pollinators can collect both pollen and nectar from the flowers.
Hoverfly on dandelion
Green veined white butterfly and hoverfly on dandelion
If you let your dandelions go to seed, you will also provide a valued food source for birds such as chaffinches, bullfinches and goldfinch.
Bullfinch eating dandelion seeds (not best photo as taken from inside)