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.
This morning on the radio they were talking about bumblebees seen on Christmas day around Dublin (Ireland). Female bumblebees should be hibernating during the winter! So what is happening? Has it got anything to do with climate change?
Here in Ireland, we certainly seem to be having milder winters. This year we are fluctuating between cold days and exceptionally mild days (sometimes up to 12 degrees). Bumblebees wake up if it is warm. The problem for a bumblebee waking at this time of year is that it may find it hard to find food. Not many plants flower during the winter and those that do may not have a nectar source. There are some exceptions of course (e.g. Mahonia, winter flowering heather) but often these are not native plants and are only found in gardens. In the UK, there is some evidence that suggests Buff tailed bumblebees are managing to feed winter colonies. However, this is only in areas where there are plenty gardens with winter flowering plants. If you are a bumble that wakes up in the countryside where are you going to find food?
When we have a winter like this one, with fluctuating temperatures, a bee may wake up a number of times. Each time it wakes it uses up vital energy resources. By the time spring really comes the poor bee may be too weak to build a nest, and start a new colony.
Fewer bees means less pollination. Less pollination means less fruit and vegetables and poor quality produce.
Climate change was in the news too this morning, with scientists saying that things may be worse than we thought. The question is where are we heading? And it’s not just bees I am worried about. It’s all of us!
Buff Tailed Bumblebee
White tailed bumblebee, Bombus Lucorum
Another frosty Friday though they tell us things may get milder next week. The blackbirds have been enjoying the windfalls and some of the apples that remained on the tree (I picked the rest yesterday). I think the frost has softened the skin making it easier for them to get at the juicy insides and of course the frost is preventing them finding worms and other things so the apples are proving very popular. Yesterday there were ten blackbirds and today I counted twelve along with two lovely fieldfares. A robin and chaffinch are occasionally dropping by to see what they may find too. Unfortunately, the zoom of my lens doesn’t work so this is the best I can do in terms of photos!
Yesterday they were all eating happily but today some arguments are breaking out – probably because supply is dwindling. Thankfully with a good apple harvest this year it is nice to share them.
Love this emptied shell.