Yellow is this month’s photo challenge from Wild Daffodil. At this time of year dandelions should be everywhere, but the cold spring means they are only just coming. Dandelions are a great source of pollen for bumblebees. So if your lawn is awash with yellow, think twice before you cut it.
Allow the dandelions to flower and you will be providing bees with an important food source.
Following on from my bumblebee post yesterday, here is an important pubic consultation on an EU Pollinator Initiative. The consultation is open to anyone living in Europe, you don’t have to be an expert. If you have any interest in pollinators I urge you to fill out the questionnaire. It only takes about ten minutes, and you have till the 5th of April to complete.
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.
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.
White tailed Bumblebee
White tailed bumble
In contrast, Garden Bumblebees have the longest tongues. So they visit plants like runner beans and foxgloves.
Garden Bumblebee on runner bean
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.
Carder bee on looestrife
Carder bee on thistle
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 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.
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.
Moth on dandelion (sorry haven’t been able to ID yet – possible dart or clay)
Common carder bee
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.
Wildfowers along the Moy
Ragworth along river Moy
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.