Young fresh workers have been on the wing the last two or three weeks in Mayo, and foraging for pollen.
This means that the new queens seen in May have been foundng successful nests – the first season a second generation has been observed in Ireland. An established pattern on the European mainland, and an indication of a warming climate.
New research published in Science looked at the effects of neonicotinoid-treated crops on three bee species (honey bees, Bombus terrestris and Osmia bicornis) in Hungary, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The research shows further links to neonicotinoid pesticides and reduced reproduction in bees, particularly wild bees.
For a more detailed report see the following BBC article.
Researchers, lead by Prof D Goulson, have found that seventy per cent of “Pollinator Friendly” labeled plants sold in UK garden centres and plant nurseries actually contain neonicotinoids. Neonics are chemicals that have been found to be harmful to bees and have been linked to their decline.
Check out the full Irish Times article here.
If you are buying any plants, ask your garden centre if they have grown them themselves or if they have been brought in. Ask them to tell you what chemicals have been used. If they can’t tell you then think about not buying the plants.
Consider growing plants from seed – but be careful as seeds can be treated with neonics too. So buy organic where you can. Swap plants with friends or only buy organically produced plants.
The DIY store B&Q have recently said that it will ban growers from treating any flowering plants with neonicotinoids, from February 2018. Isn’t it time all those selling plants followed suit?
This vividly coloured little bumble is the male of the tiny meadow bee, whose workers are predominantly velvet black. Like the males of other bumble species, he can be distinguished by the yellow hairs on his face, but also by much more generous yellow striping than his sisters.
Usually the drones are out around mid-June, but here and over at Murtagh’s Meadow they were spotted on May 28th, and they have been early in other parts of the country too.
The emergence of drones can signal the failure of a colony, or that it is drawing towards the end of its natural cycle. But so far this year the number of Meadow bees spotted has more than tripled on last year, so they would seem to be having a very good season.
There is one other intriguing possibility, which Tomas Murray points out in the monthly Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme newsletter: in southern Europe and southern England Meadow bees can raise a second generation. If we start to see early new Queens alongside the drones, that would suggest that the same pattern is now setting in here.
Tomas has helpfully provided this comparison chart for spotting drones and queens.