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default Bees Behaving Badly

Post by Ploshkin on 22nd June 2015, 1:04 pm

It's a weird year for the bees. I've decided to have a bonfire and burn all my bee books because the bees are definitely not behaving according to the rules. I thought you might like to see a picture of what greeted me in passing yesterday.

Bees Behaving Badly P1010512
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Post by Chilli-head on 22nd June 2015, 1:53 pm

What are they up to ?

My FIL has got a new lot of bees, which he keeps telling us are bad tempered. Previously he'd decided not get more, but a swarm is just too hard to refuse.

My forester friend Simon over at Wimpole has done well too - scroll down here a bit for more details:

Bees Behaving Badly Dsc09328
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Post by Ploshkin on 22nd June 2015, 3:36 pm

Wow, that is some swarm and an interesting article altogether. I wish mine would hang down conveniently like that. More often than not they are wrapped round barbed wire ore like this:

Bees Behaving Badly P1000710

That is me on one end of the pole with my trusty pound shop wastepaper basket tied on the top. I have been trying to find someone to do a skep making workshop for our Association but have drawn a blank so far. I would love to have a go. If I could find a source of long wheat or oats or spelt or something I would give it a try anyway. There are a lot of good instructions online.
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Post by Dandelion on 30th May 2017, 11:15 pm

This week is that I've learned that bumble bees can sting without losing their lives, and will live to sting another day. I've been stung twice in a week - once on the nose (the bee stung me through some fabric as I was pegging up the clothes) and the second time on my hand when I moved some comfrey aside to reach a seed tray. I'm struggling to identify the actual type of bumble bee - it was smallish with a white tail, but the ones I've seen with white tails on ID charts are too big (these were just over 1cm long). I was puzzled not to have a sting to remove either time, but found out that they can retract their sting to use again unlike honey bees. I had also assumed that bumblebees are solitary, but no - they live in nests with around 100 bees in, sometimes in abandoned mouse nests. The garden is full of them (hurray!!), and now that my hand has returned to its normal size I can get enthusiastic about them again!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Ploshkin on 31st May 2017, 9:13 am

Dandelion, they are most likely tree bumble bees (reddish colour), a fairly recent but successful arrival to the UK about 10 years ago.
They tend to be a bit more aggressive than other bumble bee species if provoked. They form larger colonies of about 400 and particularly like used bird boxes or spaces under roofs. People tend to notice them a bit later on when large numbers of drones start patrolling outside nests when new queens are being raised in the hope of pouncing on one as they come out.
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Post by Dandelion on 31st May 2017, 11:13 am

Thank you Ploshkin - that's really interesting. I think we may have a couple of different varieties - I'll try and get some photos.They are definitely more aggressive than any I've come across before - I can't remember having had a bee sting in the last 20 years, so to get two in one week was very unusual. I suppose it's the downside of planting a lot of flowers which bees like - they are all around the comfrey and foxgloves at the moment. I do like bees, and don't fear them: I attempt to get the children at school to understand and respect them, and not flap if one comes into a classroom, but I feel I'm losing the battle on that one. Although we live in a rural county the children on the whole can't tell the difference between a bee and a wasp, and their first reaction is to panic.

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Post by Ploshkin on 31st May 2017, 11:24 am

I could do several pages on wasps.  They are actually one of the most important predators of garden insect pests as a source of protein to feed the developing larvae so don't be in too much of a hurry to destroy nests early in the season.  The larvae, in return, feed the adult wasps with a sugary secretion so, late in the season, when no more young are being produced, they look elsewhere for a source of sugary food.  That is when they become a nuisance.  Indiscriminate destruction of nests can cause this 'sweet feeding' phase to start prematurely if adult wasps no longer have brood to feed.  It needs to be timed right.
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Post by FloBear on 1st June 2017, 9:34 am

That's really interesting, Ploshkin. I tend to be a defender of wasps when people start going on about how pointless they are. I was aware of their importance as predators of garden pests but I've never heard the bit about early destruction of nests before.
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Post by Dandelion on 2nd June 2017, 5:52 pm

I was quite optimistic to think that I could get a decent photograph of the bees - they didn't seem to realise that they needed to sit still! So today I'm outside with a notebook, writing a quick description and coming inside to check on the computer (www.bumblebee.org). So far I have spotted buff-tailed and red-tailed bumblebees. I'm really enjoying this! I'm still looking for the tree bumblebees which Ploshkin mentioned - I'm sure they're there!

................................................................................................................................
The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.
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