Tag Archives: bumblebees

Orderly

This week’s one a week challenge is “orderly“. I am not an orderly person so finding an orderly photo wasn’t that easy. But lupins are probably one of the most orderly flowers in my garden, particularly before the flowers open fully. And they are also loved by bees.

 

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Structure of flowers and bees

For bees the structure of flowers is important. The reason being (no pun intended) that different bee species have different tongue lengths.

So for short tongued bees like White tailed bumblebees, simple flowers are often best. In my garden these bees feed on the small oregano flowers, and bramble and I have even seen them feeding on buttercups.

In contrast, Garden Bumblebees have the longest tongues. So they visit plants like runner beans and foxgloves.

Common carder bees lie somewhere between the two and so you will see them feeding on many different flowers – today I even saw one trying to get at a runner bean flower.

Of course bees are clever and some will “rob” nectar. They do this by drilling little holes in the side of the flowers, to get at the nectar (without pollinating the plant!).  I have seen them do this with comfrey flowers. Other bees (and different species too) will come along and use the holes too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A week in celebration of pollinators?

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.

Pollinator week

June garden update – flowers

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.

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

Humming bird hawk moth – in a blur!

Vegetable garden update to follow soon.

Lost without friends

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.

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!

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.