Tag Archives: pollinators

Native Irish Honeybees

It had been thought that the native Irish honeybee Apis mellifera mellifera was extinct. However, research from Jack Hassett at the Limerick Institute of Technology has found that this may not be the case at all. Using DNA techniques, bees from three hundred Irish hives were examined and the vast majority were found to be a pure form of the native bee Apis mellifera mellifera.

This is good news and makes it even more important that we protect this unique population.

Further information:

Limerick Institure of Tecnology

Irish Times article.

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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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thistles

A gallery of sharp thistles for this week’s – one a week photo challenge. While thistles can be invasive and are seen very much as “weeds”, they are a great source of pollen and nectar for late summer pollinators.

 

 

 

 

Homage to Heritage Week

Today, Sunday, 27th August makes the end of Ireland’s 2017 Heritage Week. Thank you to all those that attended the three events I was involved in over the last nine days. Yesterday, we enjoyed our pollinator walk along the River Glore. While Carder bees were plentiful other bees were very scare. But we did see lots of peacock butterflies, one speckled wood and one red admiral.

Lots of us got up close and personal with some great minibeast at the Country Life Museum, at our biodiversity event and the children all went home with some flower seeds potted up to help our pollinators next year.

Last weekend we saw plenty of wild flowers along the banks of the River Moy at the Riverfest.

This post was my own little homage to the Heritage week.  It is a great way to get people out and about exploring their own local heritage, be it nature, built heritage, geology, what ever it is. While I look forward to doing it again in 2018, it is important that we all continue to get out and explore the wonderful heritage Ireland has to offer. One thing you can do is Make a Pledge for Nature. The Heritage Council is asking each of us to make a small pledge to help nature in our gardens, or communities.

Hoverflies

Hoverflies are important pollinators of our crops. There are about 180 species of hoverfly in Ireland. Some like the one below resemble wasps or bees. They don’t have stings, but by pretending to a species that does they can perhaps avoid predation!

Chrysotoxum bicinctum

Chrysotoxum bicinctum

 

Drone Bumblebees

Male bumblebees, also know as drones as pretty transient. They don’t hang about for long. Once they leave their nest they fly around for a few weeks looking for females to mate with and then, job done, they just die off. It is the new females queens that will hibernate and start a new colony the following spring.

This year, drones of both Early Bumblebees and Heath Bumblebees are appearing earlier than expected here in Ireland. No one is quite sure why yet. It may be due to the strange weather we are experiencing, or it could be that these species are having two generations a year.

Many drone bees can be distinguished by the yellow hairs on their faces. The drone will often fly further than the females. So while this is the second year I have seen Heath bumble drones in my garden, I have yet to see a female Heath.

Heath Bumblebee

Heath Bumblebee (Bombus jonellus)

And I near forgot to add solstice greetings!!

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