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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A garden full of Bees!

Hello Dear Readers,

No, don't worry it's not a swarm!   Well not on this blog anyway!

I was visiting Deanna's absorbing crafting blog Eclectic-Meanderings recently when I viewed a comment Peggy had made which prompted me to look at Peggy's blog - woman with wings and, blow me down with a feather, her current posting is headed "bees in a box". I was already planning this post on bees and found Peggy's article and blog most fascinating. 

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At a glance my photos of our bug hotel look very similar, but the little Mason bee is very busy and has been back and forth filling in this bamboo tube and hence I took quite a few pictures of her!  Please enlarge the pictures to see the bee and her work.  (Since writing this there are now 5 bamboo tubes all sealed!)

Bug Hotel

A few years ago after hearing about the decline in the numbers of bees our wonderful neighbours started keeping bees. We were quite excited to see our neighbours working in their white beekeeper outfits.We have always planted with the wildlife in mind and when we knew the beehives were coming we made sure we planted even more pollen rich plants, especially early flowering plants. 

Sadly, after a few years, our neighbour had to stop keeping bees as too many stings caused a reaction which could eventually become deadly in his case, as unknown to him he had a particular allergy to bees.

Bug Hotel with Mason bee

In order to help the bees survive we bought a couple of bug hotels. One was a Bumble bee house, which we buried in the soil with a short section of hollow bamboo just protruding above ground level to act as an entrance, and the other you see here in my photos. 
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Bug Hotel

Apparently 90% of all bees are solitary or non-social. Meaning each nest is the work of a single female working alone - there is no queen and the bees do not convert nectar into honey as a stored food reserve. 

Bug hotel

We have at least two types of solitary bees now.  I'm pretty sure the bee in my pictures is a Mason bee and it is sealing its chosen bamboo tube with mud and a mastic of chewed leaves or resin after laying it's eggs singly on previously collected food stores of pollen and nectar. Leaf-cutter bees and Carder bees also nest this way. 

Mining bees are another species we have seen disappearing into small holes (nests) they have mined or burrowed in the earth within the lawn. 

Sealed brood cell

There are 271 bee species to be found in the British Isles and 25% of these are on the Red Data Book List of endangered species!  Good old domestic gardens now add up to the largest bee-friendly nature reserve, exceeding national and local nature reserves in area. 

We gardeners can do much to help the bees, from choosing and growing plants which are particularly attractive to bees, to making or buying artificial nests and siting them in our gardens!

I hope you are all having a brilliant week and making the most of the reasonably long bursts of sunshine we have been having here in England).

Barbara xx

13 comments:

  1. I love bees and funny do not seem to have seen a decline at all. We have got bee friendly plants though so every little bit helps. The fuzzy bumbles are our favourite. Love your hotels, so cute

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    1. Thank you for your comment. We haven't noticed the decline in our garden either, but as you say that is probably because we too plant bee friendly plants. Have you seen Peggy's beehives as well as her bees in a box? And the bumblebees in her photos next to plants look different to bumblebees. I must take a picture of our bumblebees next!

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    2. I meant to say "look different to our local bumblebees"

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  2. Wonderful post about bees! We have friends who have honey bee hives on their property and they're fascinating to watch. I've never heard of making artificial nests for bees though, so it was interesting to read about what you're doing.

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    1. Thank you for your comments Mary Anne. It's lovely to hear about people who are caring for the bees, they are so important for our future.

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  3. wonderful post. we could not exist without the bees as they are our pollinators that produce so much of our food. glad you checked into Peggy's blog. i was so interested to read about the artificial nests you have created....never knew about that. i learn so much from reading blogs. you are helping to inform others about things that are so important to our livelihood.

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    1. Thank you Deanna. I hope there will be people who will help the bees. It's lovely to watch them, knowing you're bringing on another generation. We bought our bug hotel from the RSPB website.

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  4. Hi Barbara, nice to meet you, too! Oh, I already love it here at The Flashing Scissors...this post is full of good information, I'd like to explore providing habitat for solitary bees as well. I love your bee hotel, it's charming, I'd be out taking photos of it everyday! xo

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  5. Thank you Peggy. It is fascinating watching the bees, but I don't need to tell you that! Today we were watching lots of bees visiting our Contaneaster, which is rather overgrown but currently full of flowers and they love it!

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  6. That looks great - something else we need to do in our garden!

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  7. Thank you for stopping by my blog recently. I hope to see you again sometimes. I am now following you so I will be back here sometimes! xx

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  8. I like the look of your bug hotel ,but I am not so sure of the bugs,having been recently stung by a wasp in bed!

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    1. Poor Jackie, I hope your sting is easing now. You were very unlucky to get a wasp in your bed! I haven't noticed any wasps yet this year, we don't usually see them here until July/August, I think.

      I feel quite confident with bees or wasps in the garden or house. My husband and I are quite sure they wouldn't hurt one unless they are in severe danger, in your case it was unfortunate that you laid or sat on it and it stung you in desperation, as I guess you are a little heavier than him, and were literally in the act of killing it. We try and keep a wild life garden and feel that all the little critters are out there just endeavouring to live their own busy lives, fighting against the elements and searching for food and have no malicious feelings towards us.

      It's lovely to hear from you.

      Barbara xx

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