Wednesday, 6 October 2021

A Countryside Observation

 An article in The Times today caught my eye and echoed what I said a week or two ago in a post.   Professor Elli Leadbeater of Royal Holloway University found that cities are now becoming 'hotspots' for honey bees.   As has been said before it is really important that field margins are planted with wild flowers to encourage honey bees to forage 'in the wild'.

The trouble is that in areas like The Yorkshire Dales the fields are still mostly bordered by dry stone walls which have often delineated the fields for centuries.   The land is mostly grassland and grazed by sheep and the fields are small.   Any possibility of bordering them with wild flowers would be impossible as it would make the fields impossibly small.

Of course above these fields are the fells and they are mostly covered with heather - so that for maybe two or three weeks we have a good - and colourful - crop of heather which honey bees love.   But it is the rest of the year we have to think about.  And in any case this is dependent upon there being a good crop of wild heather - and that is not always guaranteed.

Then we have the bees who go out from colonies, find somewhere to forage and return to the hives to do their waggle dance, telling the hive where to forage.   And here is where the town and city gardens now come into their own.   As wild flowers disappear from the fields so garden flowers appear more and more in town and city gardens.   Apparently is is even more true for varieties of bumble bees.   I have certainly noticed it here in what is an under four thousand population market town.   I literally have not seen a honey bee to speak of all summer but my goodness me, have I seen some bumble bees.

 

If you want to learn more about Bumble Bees you could do worse than go to Simon Douglas Thompson 's (on my side bar) 'Careering through Nature' where, over the Summer some of his photographs of Natural History subjects have been spectacular.

After an absolutely miserable wet day yesterday it is warm and sunny and a pleasure to be out to today.   I have already been round the block once with Priscilla and will try and go around again before the day is out.   And I will keep my eye out for bees.

And while we are on the subject - congratulations to my friends S and T who won a third prize with their dark honey  yesterday.   Which proves there are still honey bees about - but the trouble is that I understand they are having to forage further afield. I don't know what the answer is.   Does anyone reading this?

18 comments:

Derek Faulkner said...

There was a similar article in The Telegraph today.
Fortunately many of the arable fields that border the nature reserve that I'm involved with, have been sown with three metre wide strips that are left un-mowed and contain wild flowers. The flower that is dominate is Phacelia tanacetifolia and bees and butterflies love it and I shall be sowing it in my garden's wild flower meadow next year.

Susan said...

Sadly, our local honey bees have been threatened too. The threat here is homeowner use of pesticides. My friend Ellen has hives and they have lost half of them. Bans on pesticides has become more important. Wildflower meadows are beautiful, my town encourages homeowners to grow wildflowers instead of massive lawns.

Bovey Belle said...

We're in the countryside here, and have had plenty of wild bees in our garden this year, plus no end of bumblebees. In fact, I have NEVER seen so many various insects about before. I have a hedge overgrown with ivy which is very popular with them, plus Lavender and Marjoram, masses of wild strawberries and some self-seeded Linaria maroccana which grows everywhere and the bees adoreit. Plus the plantings I have made too.

The natural vergeside and hedgerow plants are also abundant and not shaved within an inch of their lives the minute they flower! Carmarthen Council HATES wild flowers and can't wait to eradicate them each year. Their worst enemy is Cow Parsley, yet they quite happily let Ragwort self-seed everywhere . . .

tara henderson said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Weaver of Grass said...

Do keep your commments coming on this suject - they are so interesting and so varied.

Bonnie said...

I am certainly no expert on honey bees but I enjoyed reading what you had to say about them. Many people here have gotten hives and started raising bees in an attempt to increase their numbers. I will only buy local honey and it is delicious. I'm glad to hear you had nice weather for your walk today!

Heather said...

I know nothing about honey bees but I do love local honey, and am lucky to have two producers only a few miles from where I live who sell their honey at our Farmers' Market.
It has been a lovely day today and I've had the windows open for much of it. Greedily hoping for more of the same.

CharlotteP said...

there are noticeably more wildflowers along the hedgerows round here, now they have stopped the practise of spraying them with weedkiller. A good step in the right direction. As was the banning of neonicatinoid pesticides - although this year (pressurised by farmers), the Government voted to allow them to be used on sugarbeet. Another reason not to eat sugar!

Tom Stephenson said...

I have noticed it has been a good year for bumbles too. A bad year for acorns though. It has been a bad few years for insects of all kinds. Remember having to clean them off the windscreens of cars? I heard a depressing thing which was that insects like moths do not like the modern LED street lights. Depressing because in all other respects, LED is so good.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Didn't know that about moths and LED lights Tom - depressing indeed.

Marty said...

I recently visited a friend's house and her tiny front yard was so overtaken with flowers that it was almost a challenge to find the front door. They had deliberately covered their yard in black-eyed Susans and any number of other flowers to provide for the bees.
And after reading your post, I now need to go learn more about bumblebees.

Joanne Noragon said...

All I've had on my flowers for several years are bumble bees, and the very occasional honey bee.

Cro Magnon said...

We have dozens of hives brought here in Spring. They pollinate the Sunflowers, Maize, and Chestnuts, and make honey for the owners. No shortage here. The honey from the Chestnut flowers is dark and quite bitter; not to everyone's taste.

Derek Faulkner said...

Tom is right about the effect of LED lights on moths, there was an interesting article on the subject by the Environment Editor of The Guardian on the 25th August, surprised that you missed that.

thelma said...

A slow extinction is taking place we can only hope that a deliberate attempt by everyone to grow bee loving flowers is the answer. I planted a whole bed of lavenders but it is the successional growing of flowers that help and demanding that neonicotinoids are banned.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a joke A moth goes on a shopping expedition to buy some wool.
The man in the shop says 'this is a garage mate , we don't sell wool. What made you come in here?"
The moth replied, "Your light was on.".- Pam

Debby said...

An interesting link for you to watch, Pat. https://edition.cnn.com/videos/us/2012/09/19/bts-oh-bees-on-restaurant-roof.wjw

https://www.scoopcharlotte.com/2016/08/04/beehives/

I have long believed we have all the answers we need, if only we would stop and consider things. Somehow we seem to be a people who have ceased to think.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you everyone. After reading your replies I do find it encouragig.