In the United States, they are celebrating Pollinator Week (19-25th June). In Britain, they have a Pollinator Awareness Week which runs in July. Isn’t it time we in Ireland did something similar? After all pollinators are in decline worldwide and we can all do our bit to help pollinators in our local areas.
So this week I hope to post a few extra pollinator posts to start an “Irish Pollinator Week” of sorts. I will post the posts here and on a blog I share with a friend, Wild Pollinator Gardens.
And I ask each of you, where ever you are in the world, to think about posting at least one pollinator post or photo over this next week.
Bees, as many of you know, are one of my favourite garden visitors, so providing them with food is important to me. Bumbles are currently busy feeding on comfrey, sage, lupins, foxgloves and delphiniums. The early bumblebees seem to really like the comfrey, while the carder bees are concentrating on the sage. While tailed bees I have seen on buttercup and lupin, while the big garden bumblebee queens that are still around are going for the foxgloves as well as comfrey. It just shows that having a variety of flowers in your garden is important if you want your help a range of bees.
White tailed bumble on lupin
Foxglove – is this normal for a culitvate foxglove?
One lovely new sighting for the garden was a humming bird hawk moth, feeding on sage flowers. This is an amazing day flying moth that looks, and acts like a humming bird. We hadn’t seen one since the time we lived in the UK, so great addition to our garden list. if you want to see what it looks out check out this link.
Humming bird hawk moth – in a blur!
Vegetable garden update to follow soon.
Combining two weekly photo challenges – Lost and Friend – I decided to do a post on how lost we would be without our friends the bees. Anyone who drops by here regularly will know that I am just a little bit passionate about bees, and in particular, bumblebees. What is there not to like; cute, clever, industrious and they pollinate so many of our flowers and crops.
White tailed Bumblebee
Garden Bumblebee on runner bean
Bees are every gardeners friend – we’d have no runner beans, strawberries, tomatoes, courgettes or fruit like apples without them doing the work of pollinating. Going further afield – do you enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning or a bar of chocolate? Well without bees you’d have neither. It is estimated that the production of more than three-quarters of world crops depend on insect pollinators!
Bumblebee drone sharing Allium
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.
Forest Cuckoo bumblebee Bombus sylvestris
Garden Bumblebee on runner bean
Note: no pollen basket on bee on left but Garden bumblebee on right (a true bumblebee) the pollen basket is obvious.
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.
Wild Daffodil and Nanacathy‘s one-a-week photo challenge this week is “nature”. So right up my street, but so hard to choose one photo! So I have had to go for a gallery of some recent sightings!
Regular readers may remember my post about the first bumblebees and may remember this photo.
Some of you noticed the bee was carrying some little passengers and we were wondering if they would be detrimental to the bumble. I have since learned that these little mites are called phoretic mites (Parasitellus). The mites are just hitchhikers and will not harm the bee. They are a non-feeding nymph stage of the adult mites. They over-winter on the queen bees. Once the queen establishes a nest the mites drop off. They remain in the nest, feeding on the nest detritus, a sort of live-in nest cleaner for the bees.