Category Archives: Bees

Landmark study shows pesticides damage bee colonies

The Guardian newspaper reports –

“Widely used insecticides damage the survival of honeybee colonies, the world’s largest ever field trial has shown for the first time, as well as harming wild bees.

The farm-based research, along with a second new study, also suggests widespread contamination of entire landscapes and a toxic “cocktail effect” from multiple pesticides.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/29/pesticides-damage-survival-of-bee-colonies-landmark-study-shows

Plant a pot for pollinators

Join the Butterfly Conservation’s Plant a Pot for Pollinators project:-

http://butterfly-conservation.org/10759/plant-pots-for-pollinators.html?utm_source=Butterfly%20Conservation&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=7101090_Support%20Copy%20of%20May%202016&utm_content=PPFP&dm_t=0,0,0,0,0

https://coventryobserver.co.uk/news/butterfly-conservation-urges-gardeners-to-help-nations-wildlife/

 

Abergavenny Chronicle Press Release – “Don’t mow wildflowers”

Abergavenny Chronicle – Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Bee Friendly signs call on contractors to avoid cutting wildflower verges

“Members of Bee Friendly Monmouthshire have been out and about around Abergavenny planting signs on grass verges to discourage private contractors and council workmen from strimming wildflowers.

The signs bear the Bee Friendly symbol with the message below: ‘Do not mow while flowering’.  The same signage will also be installed by Monmouthshire County Council when the urban flowers mix is sown on roundabouts.

Chairwoman of Bee Friendly Monmouthshire Cyrene Powell says the group was ‘very disheartened’ to read the recent story in the Chronicle about the destruction of a bank of wildflowers in Wern Gifford, Pandy by a county council team subcontracted to SWTRA.”

http://www.abergavennychronicle.com/article.cfm?id=106017&headline=Bee%20Friendly%20signs%20call%20on%20contractors%20to%20avoid%20cutting%20wildflower%20verges&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2017


 

Letter and reply sent to the RHS magazine “The Garden” June 2017

Dear Sir
It was with considerable dismay that I read a section on Leafcutter bees contained in your article on page 41 of the Royal Horticultural Society magazine “The Garden”  June 2017 entitled “Which pest is on my roses?”

Under no circumstances should leafcutter bees be classified as “pests” in a garden and should not be listed alongside aphids, sawflies and scurfy rose scale!  Admittedly, within the paragraph about the bees, you stressed that they are important pollinating insects and “should be encouraged (Yes. Hoooray!) or at least tolerated (No. Totally negative!)” But I’m afraid the damage is done by even including the activities of the leafcutters under the general heading of “pests”.

My dismay was slightly tempered when I reached page 122 and read a positive description of the work of the leafcutters in Jean Vernon’s Wildlife column.

Perhaps you have never observed, with complete admiration, as I have a female leafcutter bee hard at work flying backwards and forwards to her nest ( in a bamboo tube in a bee hotel for example) carrying rolled up pieces of rose leaf to perfectly line the bamboo tube in which she lays her eggs. And finally cutting a circle of almost perfect diameter to plug the entrance hole at the front. Watch her flying head first into the tube with pollen to supply each cell and then reversing in to lay her egg before flying off for more supplies of rose leaves and pollen for the next cell.  It is absolutely fascinating to watch.

These tiny insects are one of the wonders of nature and deserve our total respect.  They have been on this earth for millions of years.  Count yourself lucky if you find holes in your rose leaves.  It means you have a healthy, thriving family of leafcutter bees somewhere nearby, indicating that your garden is well on its way to being wildlife friendly.

Regards

Secretary, Bee Friendly Monmouthshire
http://www.beefriendlymonmouthshire.org


Reply from “The Garden” magazine:

Thank you for your concern about including the leaf-cutter bee in the June edition of The Garden under rose pests. The primary reason for including the insect in this article was because the RHS Garden Advice service regularly receives enquiries about the characteristic leaf holes caused by these useful insects (in roses and other plants). Whilst these insects should not be considered pests it is the enquirer who asks ‘what pest has caused the damage?’. Therefore it was important to include this insect under the pests section in order to inform gardeners what causes the leaf holes and that it is a useful pollinator that should be tolerated, some gardeners still consider the damage unsightly even with this information. If it had not been included in this item many gardeners may still have considered the damage to be due to a pest and swatted the bee, occasionally we receive the squashed bees in the post.

You may be interested to read our advisory profile on leaf cutter-bees https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=829

You may also be interested in this year’s RHS/Wildlife trusts Wild about Gardens campaign which is focused on wild bees, of which the leafcutters are a featured species http://wildaboutgardens.org.uk/


 

BBC report – Pesticide ‘reduces bumblebee queen egg development’

“Use of a common pesticide in spring could have an impact on wild bumblebees by interfering with their life cycle, a UK study suggests.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-39783990

The team, who looked at wild bumblebees caught in the English countryside, say the insecticide, thiamethoxam, reduces egg development in queen bees.

They say this is likely to reduce bee populations later in the year.

Thiamethoxam is one of three neonicotinoid insecticides currently restricted for use by the EU.They have been restricted amid concerns about their impact on wild bees.

The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society – B, investigated the impact of thiamethoxam on four species of bumblebee queen which had been captured in the wild in spring.”

http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/284/1854/20170123

Pesticides stop bumblebees from pollinating apple trees.

The Guardian Newspaper reports a recent study on the use of neonicotinoid pesticides:-

“The world’s most widely used insecticides harm the ability of bumblebees to pollinate apple trees, scientists have discovered. The finding has important implications for agriculture and the natural world, say the researchers, as many food crops and wildflowers rely on bee pollination to reproduce.

There is good evidence that neonicotinoids harm bees but the new research, published in the journal Nature, is the first to show a negative impact on the vital pollination services bees provide.

The research, carried out at the University of Reading’s farm in Berkshire, exposed bumblebee colonies to different levels of neonicotinoid found in normal fields and then tested their ability to pollinate apple trees. Compared to unexposed colonies, the exposed bumblebees visited fewer trees and collected less pollen, resulting in apples with one-third less pips. The number of pips is an important sign of pollination success because it is associated with higher quality fruit, which are more valuable to farmers.”

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/nov/18/neonicotinoids-pesticides-stop-bumblebees-from-pollinating-apple-trees-research-finds

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature16167.html

Irish roadside verges left uncut – BBC report

Experts have warned that one third of Ireland’s bee species are threatened with extinction, partly due to the decline in wildflower meadows.  According to conservationists, 98% of this species-rich habitat has disappeared in the last 50 years.

An unusual solution has been provided by spending cuts which left many roadside verges uncut over the summer.  In County Fermanagh and Omagh in County Tyrone, a dozen verges were managed as wildlife corridors by Ulster Wildlife.  A small strip was cut to keep sightlines clear for motorists, but allowed the wildflowers which attracted bees and insects to grow.

See the BBC report for full details:-
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-34285859