Author Archives: BfM_admin

Bees force plants to flower early

New Scientist report:-   “Hungry bumblebees can coax plants into flowering and making pollen up to a month earlier than usual by punching holes in their leaves.

Bees normally come out of hibernation in early spring to feast on the pollen of newly blooming flowers. However, they sometimes emerge too early and find that plants are still flowerless and devoid of pollen, which means the bees starve.

Fortunately, bumblebees have a trick up their sleeves for when this happens. Consuelo De Moraes at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and her colleagues discovered that worker bumblebees can make plants flower earlier than normal by using their mouthparts to pierce small holes in leaves.”

Read more:

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2244009-bees-force-plants-to-flower-early-by-cutting-holes-in-their-leaves/

Moths have ‘secret role’ as crucial pollinators

BBC Report:-   “Dr Walton from University College London and colleagues monitored moth activity around ponds in agricultural areas of Norfolk.

They found that 45% of the moths they tested were transporting pollen, which originated from 47 different plant species, including several that were rarely visited by bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

The scientists found that while bumblebees and honeybees are critically important, they tended to target the most prolific nectar and pollen sources. Not so with moths.

“From what we see from our work, moths tend to be generalists, meaning they’re not specifically visiting a narrow group of flowers,” said Dr Walton. … ”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-52630991

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsbl.2019.0877

Are we witnessing an insect apocalypse?

The New Scientist reports:-

“Are we witnessing an insect apocalypse? It is complicated. The longest running study of insect populations in the world shows that the total mass of moths in Great Britain is double what it was in the 1960s, but has been declining by around 10 per cent a decade since the 1980s. This probably reflects what has happened to other kinds of insects, too. …. ”

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2227154-insect-biomass-in-britain-falling-but-may-still-be-double-1960s-level/#ixzz6Ktbedm2V

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2241413-reports-of-an-insect-apocalypse-are-overblown-but-still-concerning/?utm_source=NSDAY&utm_campaign=2b849f7e58-NSDAY_270420&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1254aaab7a-2b849f7e58-373938547

https://science.sciencemag.org/content/368/6489/417

 

Plant nurseries are in trouble – how to help

Wildlife Gardening Forum have posted the following message on their facebook page:-

Nurseries supplying garden plants are in trouble due to shopping restrictions on our daily life, and that they may have have to dispose of their spring stock. At this time, as long as these nurseries are abiding by Public Health England rules, then it’s good to support them. Many have lost their key routes to market via garden centres and UK horticulture is starting to suffer. We want these places to be there for our pollinators when this has ended!

We’re therefore starting this thread for anyone to share details of the who is doing what and where, ie still operational and available to order from. Please keep coming back to this post and update as the situation progresses, and if you are a nursery owner, please feel free to add a link to your nursery here. To find this post, go to:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/wildlife.gardening.forum/permalink/1142801456067480/

Two citizen science projects

Two Citizen Science Projects :-

OPAL: Nation pollination survey
http://polli-nation.co.uk/activity/survey/

This survey is listed on the FAQ information sheet for the Welsh Government Bee Friendly Action Plan.


The British Trust for Ornithology  “Garden BirdWatch”
https://www.bto.org/our-science/projects/gbw

Unlike the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, the BTO survey is a year-round commitment.  You can just record birds if you like, but in recent years the survey has been extended to include other species of particular interest to wildlife researchers, so you can also record the butterflies and bumblebees in your garden,

The BTO are currently offering FREE membership of this survey. They have already had a fantastic response with 2,500 new members, and counting. They feel that the most appropriate way to make Garden BirdWatch accessible to all is to temporarily waive the £17 subscription. Communication with these new joiners will be exclusively electronic, they are increasing the frequency of the GBW e-newsletter to help with this.

Connect with nature from your home

10 ways to connect with nature without leaving your home this spring

The Wildlife Trusts, a UK movement made up of 46 wildlife charities, has compiled a list of ways to tune into the season from your home.

“Spring has arrived in splendid colour and sound,” said Kirsty Paterson from The Wildlife Trusts. “Over the past few days, hundreds of people have told us that they’ve spotted their first butterflies. These are moments of connection with nature that people find uplifting and comforting.”


 

Mass bee die-offs – Brazil’s pesticide boom

Bees are sentinels’: “mass bee die-offs signal the wider impact of Brazil’s pesticide boom”

“The footage is unpleasant to watch: thousands of bees writhe, disoriented, on the ground in front of their hive. The dead bodies of thousands more lie beneath them.

But the smell, said beekeeper Aldo Machado, is even worse.

“Dead bees smell like dead rats,” he said. “The smell is very strong, it really is. It’s like any other meat.”

Half a billion bees are estimated to have died from December 2018 to January 2019 in southern Brazil. Machado, vice-president of Rio Grande do Sul’s beekeeping society, has been hearing reports of die-offs since 2013.

Machado sent samples of his bees for analysis, which showed that they were contaminated with an insecticide called fipronil, commonly used to control ants and termites on soy crops.”

See the full report…
https://unearthed.greenpeace.org/2020/02/27/bee-die-offs-soya-brazil-pesticide-boom-biodiverisity-agriculture/

Testing products which help (?) bees

Bees and wildlife are much in the public eye these days, with frequent media reports of declines.  In the UK, for example, approximately 70% of the land area is used for agriculture. Clearly, helping wildlife at a national level requires agricultural land to play a major role and there are various encouragements for this, with funding opportunities like the Countryside Stewardship scheme (Supplement 1) (244 separate grants including for ‘badger gates’, ‘beetle banks’, and ‘autumn sown bumble bee mix’) and advice and support from organisations such as LEAF (Supplement 2) (Linking Environment and Farming).

What can the general public do?  A plethora of products such as nest boxes, feeding stations and wildlife friendly seeds are available to purchase on-line and in garden centres.  Internet shopping websites such as Amazon UK list over 10,000 products for bees in their Garden and Outdoors section.

Here we take a close look at a number of these products which are specifically designed to help bees and other insects: bee hotels, bee bricks, bee and butterfly seed balls, and ladybird and butterfly houses. Our investigation uses a number of approaches, including expert responses and scientific research results….

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0005772X.2019.1702271