Friday 25 June 2021

Local Bees

We spend quite a bit of time making our garden, yard and allotment a pollinator-friendly oasis. Quite apart from the benefits to the local insects, another motivation is that over the past few years many gardens in our street have been paved or tarmac-ed over and some of the other nearby allotment owners still cling to the weedkillers and other chemicals or insist on mowing and strimming everything in sight. So we want to do everything we can to provide an oasis in this increasingly barren local landscape.

In this blog I talk about the Tawny Mining Bees that appear in Spring in our garden and make their little holes in the blank spaces in the flower beds. They came again this year and it was fascinating to watch them popping in and out and excavating with their legs. 

More recently, a friend in a neighbouring allotment has had Tree Bumblebees set up home in a bird box they have put up on the side of their shed. These are regularly in our allotment foraging.

The Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) is a recent arrival to England, having only first been reported in 2001 in Wiltshire but has quickly spread north as far as Scotland. More about the Tree Bumblebee - even known to evict Blue Tits from nestboxes (!) - is on the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website

I was doing some weeding in the allotment not long ago and wondered what an unusual bee was that has stopped to visit some half grown poppies amongst the potatoes. Online enquiries found that it was an Orange-Vented Mason Bee (Osmia leaiana), not commonly recorded in our part of the world.

I contribute records onto iRecord, the NBN (National Biodiversity Network) recording scheme for flora and fauna. They also have species maps  which give a reasonable idea of the distribution, although this is from comparatively recent sightings. 

This last Wednesday I was in the yard with my daughter when a bee that looked like it was stuck to a section of leaf landed on a flowerpot! It spent a few minutes resting on the edge of the flowerpot before taking off, still with the leaf. 

Upon research, I discovered that this was a Leafcutter Bee, although I am not yet sure of which species, there are potentially three different ones that it could be that are found in North Yorkshire. 

Leafcutter bees cut out and take small section of plant leaves to line their nests and do no lasting damage to plants.  

A close up (a bit blurred as I only had the small Canon camera to hand) 

In the photo, you can see that the bee is using all its legs to hold onto the segment of leaf it has obtained, I would imagine that it needs rest every so often if it is carrying these all day! 

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