Category Archives: Nature

Hawthorn hedgerows

One of the distinctive features of our Irish countryside are our hedgerows. These field boundaries are part of our cultural and agricultural heritage, often forming townland as well as farm demarcations.

Hawthorn hedgerows

Hawthorn hedgerows

In many counties, including Mayo, hawthorn makes up a large proportion of these native hedgerows (hawthorn is estimated to occur in about 90% of hedgerows in the county).
Hawthorns flower in May, so it is sometimes called the May tree, or whitethorn. This year there is an abundance of hawthorn blossom, much like last year. Some of the hedgerows look almost white (perhaps an indication of why it is also called whitethorn). Anytime there is a strong wind, the little roads around us are covered in fallen blossom. So it almost looks like it has been snowing!

In Ireland, the hawthorn is often associated with fairies and the underworld. Lone hawthorns in the middle of fields will not be touched for fear of upsetting the fairy folk. Hawthorns can live up to 400 years old, and while they never get tall, they can become quite gnarled, so you can see where it may get this reputation.

Hawthorn rainbow

Hawthorn in the background with rainbow

Pollinators and Gardening – Course

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Creating a Four-Season Pollinator Garden The workshop will investigate the foraging behaviour of different native pollinator groups, honey, bumble, and solitary bees, hoverflies, and butterflies. We will also discuss appropriate garden design: siting and shelter; choice layout and flowering sequence of forage plants. The location is an established pollinator garden and the day will include […]

via Upcoming Pollinator Gardening Course — Wild Pollinator Gardens

Cuckoo bumblebees

Cuckoo bumblebees, as their name suggests, take over the nests of ‘true’ bumblebees. The Cuckoo queen enter their host nest, and kill the existing queen. The remaining workers then rear the cuckoo’s young. The cuckoo bumbles, of which there are six species in Ireland, can be difficult enough to distinguish from true bumbles. However one distinguishing feature is the lack of a pollen basket on the back leg of the bee.

The photo below is of a forest cuckoo bumblebee.  They appear to be having a good year with sightings in Mayo and Clare in the last couple of weeks

They are probably one of the easier species to identify with their large white tails and their single yellow band.

 

Foest Cuckoo bumbebee

Forest Cuckoo bumblebee Bombus sylvestris

Note: no pollen basket on bee on left but Garden bumblebee on right (a true bumblebee) the pollen basket is obvious.

 

Bumblebee Workshops

Tomás Murray from the National Biodiversity Data Centre will be teaching two bumblebee identification workshops here in County Mayo this coming weekend, 6th and 7th May 2017. I can highly recommend Tomás’s workshops, as it was where I first started to really learn about bumbles.

In addition, participants will learn how to monitor bees in their own areas and feed results back to the National Biodiversity Data Centre.

I would encourage anyone, who is in anyway interested in bees, to come along. The workshops are free and I can guarantee you will learn lots. See details below.

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