Tag Archives: Weekly photo challenge

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Street art with a difference

Last weekend, we attend the Foxford Riverfest, a celebration of fishing and nature based around the River Moy, in Foxford, Co Mayo. There were lots of fishing competitions, wildlife walks, crafts, civil defense rescue boat, and lots of fun activities for the children.

But the things which seem to have caught everyone’s attention were these knitted and crochet items on the street corners.

The aptly named “Yarn Bombing” was a street art initiative organised by the men and women of Foxford as a means of brightening up their town for the Riverfest. More of the wonderful creations can be seen on the Riverfest facebook page.

Little visitor

This week’s Photo Challenge was all about things that distract us, or make us stop what we are doing.  Seeing any kind of wildlife is going to distract me. It could be a bumblebee buzzing around a flower, a beetle scuttling into a hiding place, a bird flying overhead. But this little fellow, who popped into our garden yesterday evening, holds a particular place in my heart.

Irish hare leveret

Irish hare leveret

This is an Irish hare leveret,  a young hare maybe 4-5 months old.  I spent a number of years studying these amazing animals.  Irish hares (Lepus timidus hibernicus) are a unique sub species of hare found only in Ireland. For hares, their ears are quite short. They have a white tail and their fur colour can vary from dark to reddish brown and even sometimes light brown.  Because we have very little snow in Ireland they don’t go white in the winter. But sometimes piebald ones are seen, with splashes of white fur.

Leveret

Irish hare leveret

They are shy, secretive animals, so having one come into the garden was a real treat. The photos were taken through the window so not great quality, but great to get a photo at all.

Irish hare leveret

Hare, unlike rabbits, do not use burrows. During the day the will find areas with good cover, where they will make a nest like form in long vegetation (grass, rushes).

Modern intensive farming methods are probably one of the main reasons for the decline in numbers. However, they are still a widespread species and occur in many habitats from uplands to coastal dunes.

You can find out more at the Vincent Wildlife Trust – mammals in Ireland section.

 

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!!

June garden – Vegetables

The last two years I seem to have struggled getting the vegetable plot in order.  Just when I think I am getting things under control the weeds seem to take over!  Currently the autumn strawberries and the blueberries are somewhat overwhelmed with weeds

We’ve had a reasonable crop of purple sprouting broccoli and broccoli (which I started last autumn inside. Mange tout are cropping both inside and outside and broad beans are coming slowly.

The potatoes are doing well. Cabbages are suffering a bit of slug damage – how the slugs love them!  I surround them with broken egg shells which does help a little. Usually I can get some lettuce going early in the year,  but anything I have set outside this year has just vanished. So I’ll concentrate growing these tender leaves in the polytunnel.  Of course the weeds in the raspberry and blueberry beds are probably havens for slugs, and the recent damp weather doesn’t help either. We did watch a blackbird dismantle a slug the other day, but it did seem to have a problem with the slime.

Leeks, onions, parsnip, beetroot, red and white cabbages, courgettes and runner beans are all planted out. I have the latter two planted in the tunnel too in case we don’t get a warm summer. In the greenhouse, I have just recently planted tomatoes and cucumbers.

So if I can just keep on top of the weeds and slugs it will all be fine!

 

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!