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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

More on the Bumblebee

Apparently a lack of suitable flowers may be forcing bumblebees to seek out aphids to feed on their sugary secretions. According to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust(BCT) this behaviour is becoming more common.

A BBC Scotland news website caputred images in a garden in Nairn showing the bees visiting tree leaves covered with aphids. The secretions made by the Aphids offer a substitute for nectar, but they don't contain the protein necessary for the insects to stay healthy.

Dr Ben Darvill, a BCT director and research ecologist said:

It's hard to say for sure, but it does seem as if this behaviour is becoming more common.

Bumblebees are known to feed from aphid secretions, and from extra-floral nectaries on unlikely plants like bracken - but it's more usual to see it in upland areas where there are few other flowers around.

The fact that it is now frequently observed elsewhere may suggest that there are fewer of the right sorts of flowers around in people's gardens and in the wider countryside.


Does this show that we need to manage our environment better? Surely we need to ensure that there are sufficient flowers about to encourage a diverse spread of bees throughout the UK. Turning gardens over to concrete and decking is not the way.

6 comments:

oldcrow61 said...

Everything I've heard lately about the decline in bees is frightening. Yes, we need to manage our environment better, but will humans do this! If the bees all die off I'm afraid there is little hope for the planet.

Toffeeapple said...

I try to do my bit for the Bumblies with the flowers that I grow and the hover flies too but I have noticed a decline in numbers in the last two years. Moths are few and far between in my little patch too. So sad.

Liz said...

I try to do my bit too, with most of the plants I buy being good for insects, it seems to be a bit of a catch-22 situation. People complain if councils leave land to grow wild, but if the councils do something about those areas of wasteland it rarely involves native or insect attracting plants.

Last year our garden literally buzzed from hoverflies and bees, this year far less so - I like to think it's because it's a much larger garden and I moved in too late so as yet there are few flowers around to attract them - although the sage is always full of them!

Also, I imagine many councils avoid attracting bees because of the possible court cases should someone get stung - it's a sad, sad indication of modern times and I wouldn't shock me if it really was something estates take into consideration.

Island Rambles Blog said...

This whole bee thing has got me really worried...we have dramatically changed what was a natural landscape into our own idea of what it should be and perhaps it does not suit the bees...I have my own bees called orchard bees, I can keep them in the fridge in the winter if I want but that may disturb visitors so I I mostly use an old shed and bring them out in April or May. They are wonderful little bees.

Dawn said...

I was gonna cut the lawn tonight, it's full of clover flowers, perhaps I won't bother now!!

Anna said...

I know of at least 2 bumblebee nests in my garden - guess there's something to be said for not weeding!!

They love the nasturtiums I planted in the veg garden too, always in and out of them. And they're doing a great job pollinating the courgettes and the fruit trees in the spring.

Lovely to watch them - hopefully more people will make their gardens bee- and insect-friendly.