Hello Dear Readers,
No, don't worry it's not a swarm! Well not on this blog anyway!
I was visiting Deanna's absorbing crafting blog Eclectic-Meanderings recently when I viewed a comment Peggy had made which prompted me to look at Peggy's blog - woman with wings and, blow me down with a feather, her current posting is headed "bees in a box". I was already planning this post on bees and found Peggy's article and blog most fascinating.
At a glance my photos of our bug hotel look very similar, but the little Mason bee is very busy and has been back and forth filling in this bamboo tube and hence I took quite a few pictures of her! Please enlarge the pictures to see the bee and her work. (Since writing this there are now 5 bamboo tubes all sealed!)
A few years ago after hearing about the decline in the numbers of bees our wonderful neighbours started keeping bees. We were quite excited to see our neighbours working in their white beekeeper outfits.We have always planted with the wildlife in mind and when we knew the beehives were coming we made sure we planted even more pollen rich plants, especially early flowering plants.
Sadly, after a few years, our neighbour had to stop keeping bees as too many stings caused a reaction which could eventually become deadly in his case, as unknown to him he had a particular allergy to bees.
In order to help the bees survive we bought a couple of bug hotels. One was a Bumble bee house, which we buried in the soil with a short section of hollow bamboo just protruding above ground level to act as an entrance, and the other you see here in my photos.
Apparently 90% of all bees are solitary or non-social. Meaning each nest is the work of a single female working alone - there is no queen and the bees do not convert nectar into honey as a stored food reserve.
We have at least two types of solitary bees now. I'm pretty sure the bee in my pictures is a Mason bee and it is sealing its chosen bamboo tube with mud and a mastic of chewed leaves or resin after laying it's eggs singly on previously collected food stores of pollen and nectar. Leaf-cutter bees and Carder bees also nest this way.
Mining bees are another species we have seen disappearing into small holes (nests) they have mined or burrowed in the earth within the lawn.
There are 271 bee species to be found in the British Isles and 25% of these are on the Red Data Book List of endangered species! Good old domestic gardens now add up to the largest bee-friendly nature reserve, exceeding national and local nature reserves in area.
We gardeners can do much to help the bees, from choosing and growing plants which are particularly attractive to bees, to making or buying artificial nests and siting them in our gardens!
I hope you are all having a brilliant week and making the most of the reasonably long bursts of sunshine we have been having here in England).