We're massive fans of Brigit Strawbridge here at Green&Blue, what she doesn't know about bees and pollinators isn't worth knowing! So we were delighted when she agreed to let us share this blog post she wrote, 'Some very basic information about bees'. It's a very useful guide to bees, in all their various guises! Enjoy. And you can follow Brigit's own blog here, or find her on twitter here. What's the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the word 'bee'? For many people this word conjures up images of beehives, honey, and people dressed in strange, white, masked outfits; i.e honeybee related images. Yet, if I gave the same people a box of coloured pencils and asked them to draw me a bee, most would probably draw something black, yellow and black striped in the shape of a rugby ball; basically something more akin to a bumblebee. So there is clearly a little confusion. [caption id="attachment_6279" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Andrena cineraria (Ashy mining bee)[/caption] I thought it might help if I wrote down some very basic information to help clear up some of this confusion.......... There are over 20,000 different species of bee in the world. 7 of these are honeybees. 250 are bumblebees The rest are solitary bees! Honeybees and bumblebees are 'social' bees - which means they live together in colonies comprising a queen, female workers, and males. There are tens of thousands of worker bees in a honeybee colony, but only around 50 - 400 in a bumblebee colony. All 'worker bees' are female. Solitary bees do not have queens or a worker caste, nor (with one or two exceptions) do they share their nests with other solitary bees. This is why they are called 'solitary'. They do, however, often nests alongside each other. [caption id="attachment_6277" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Megachile centuncularis (Patchwork leafcutter bee)[/caption] After mating, female solitary bees make nests. They do this either by excavating tunnels in the ground (ground nesting) or using pre-existing cavities in walls, trees, plant stems etc (cavity nesting). The females provision their nests with sufficient pollen for the larvae to feed on when they hatch, then they lay an egg alongside each lump of pollen, seal the nest, and die before their young complete their life cycles to become adult bees. These new adult bees remain in hibernation in their nests throughout autumn and winter... and emerge the following year in spring or summer to start their life cycle all over again. ************************ [caption id="attachment_6275" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Apis mellifera (Honeybee)[/caption] Only honeybees make honey, which they make out of nectar collected from flowers. Honeybees turn the nectar into honey to store over winter, so the colony has something to feed on whilst it's too cold to forage and flowers are scarce. Other bee species also collect nectar, but do not turn it into honey. They just use it as an energy drink. ************************* [caption id="attachment_6276" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Bombus terrestris (Buff-tailed bumblebee)[/caption] Unlike honeybee colonies, bumblebee colonies do not overwinter. Each bumblebee colony produces males and new daughter queens in the summer (at different times depending on the species). These new queens mate and then go into hibernation till next spring. The old queen, together with all the female workers and the males, die before winter. That is the end of this nest. So, in a way, you could say honeybee colonies are 'perennials' and bumblebees colonies are 'annuals'. ************************ As well as collecting nectar, bees also collect pollen, which they use to feed their young. Different species collect their pollen in different ways..... Social bees (honeybees and bumblebees) collect it in pollen baskets on their hind legs. They pack the pollen into these baskets very neatly, so don't drop much off on their way home. Solitary bees, however, collect pollen on stiff branched hairs, either under their abdomen (cavity nesting species) or on their legs (ground nesting species). It is not moistened or packed down, which means lots of this pollen drops off on the other flowers they visit as they make their way home. This makes them extremely good pollinators. ************************ Only female bees have a sting. Male bees do not. If a honeybee worker stings you, she dies. If bumblebees sting (which they very rarely do) they will not die. This is because the honeybee sting is barbed, whereas the bumblebee sting is more like a needle. Apart from a few exceptions, solitary bee stings are mostly redundant and incapable of even piercing the human skin. *********************** [caption id="attachment_6278" align="aligncenter" width="320"] Halictus rubicundus (Orange-legged Furrow-bee)[/caption] The most important thing of all is that we provide food and habitat for ALL of these species. They all pollinate different plants, in different ways, at different times of the year, and in different habitats. DIVERSITY is the key! It is equally important that we provide for other pollinating insects like butterflies, moths, hoverflies, beetles, wasps and flies. Photos within this post are of a honeybee, bumblebee, cavity nesting solitary bee and ground nesting bee.... showing the different ways they collect their pollen. Thanks for reading, Brigit Strawbridge. Thanks so much to Brigit for this guest post, hope you enjoyed it and have maybe learnt something new, we certainly have.
On Friday 24th March Green&Blue were delighted to attend the private view of the new exhibition by Cornish legend, artist and campaigner Kurt Jackson. 'Bees (and the Odd Wasp) in My Bonnet' is described as a unique presentation of contemporary art and science and arrives at the Jackson Foundation Gallery in St Just, near St Ives, from its initial prestigious opening at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History (where it attracted over 100,000 visitors). The exhibition will now run to the 19th August 2017. Upstairs at the gallery the charity space has been given over to two bee friendly charities, B4 - Bring Back Black Bees and Friends of the Earth, who lead many of the bee campaigns in the UK. Friends of the Earth very kindly asked us to curate a display of bee bricks to demonstrate ways in which loss of habitat can be addressed. Visitors will find a large central display wall made completely from bee bricks. It's fantastic to sit within what will be a mecca for bee and art lovers alike. Cornwall Wildlife Trust are also working with the Jackson Foundation and will be leading bee walks, amongst other things. The private view was attended by some of the great and the good of the bee world, including Dave Timms from Friends of the earth, who gave an impassioned and inspiring 'call to action' speech on behalf of the bees and Michael Eavis who is the patron of B4. On theme drinks were supplied by Skinners brewery in the form of Hops and Honey - very apt! If you can then make sure you go along and visit the exhibition before it ends. Kurt Jacksons' artwork perfectly captures the movement, beauty and humour of bees and we're certain you'll come out inspired to do more and think more about these beautiful winged creatures, on whom we rely for so much. Find out more about the Jackson Foundation and opening hours here. See more images of the opening night on the Jackson Foundation Facebook page here. Images courtesy of Friends of the Earth.
CORNWALL BUMBLEBEE GROUP
Bombus terrestris (Buff tailed Bumblebee) Watercolour on Paper Limited Edition Print Lot No 29 Melanie Anne Camp
ART AUCTION â€œWHILE THE BEES WERE SLEEPINGâ€
The Cornwall Bumblebee Group invite you to their Art Auction on Saturday 15th April 2017. Registration and Viewing will take place at 5.00pm and the Auction will begin at 6.30pm. The Auction will be held in The Trafalgar Room of The Union Hotel, Chapel Street Penzance.
ALL PROCEEDS FROM THIS ART AUCTION WILL GO TO: Professor Dave Goulsonâ€™s work at Sussex University testing garden centre plants for neonicotinoids - the pesticide which is harming bumblebees, and Funds to provide pollinator friendly flowers for public gardens and open spaces in Cornwall. In Penzance the project begins in Penlee Park with new planting and to establish four information boards for children to learn about bumblebees and visitors to identify them. We hope that you will be able to join us as our Honoured Guests. Melanie Anne Camp â€“ Chair Beth Roberts â€“ Secretary Vaughan Warren â€“ Committee Member
Find out more about the event over on Facebook hereÂ or more about the Cornwall Bumblebee Group on Facebook here.beepot.
Green&Blue have clear brief to bring innovative bee brick to a wider construction market The end of 2016 saw the chancellor announcing a target for the construction industry of one million new homes by 2020. There is a clear need for new homes but with the sense of urgency to build them it is important that we donâ€™t forget about biodiversity and sustainability. Building companies must be held to account when it comes to providing for wildlife and replacing habitat which can be destroyed on massive scales when developments are built. Award winning, contemporary product company Green&Blue have developed a product called the bee brick, which is a nesting site for solitary bees. These vital pollinators face massive decline and part of this is due to loss of habitat as more agricultural land is turned over to developments and there are less green spaces and planting for bees. Bee brick is a simple way to create habitat in the very framework of a building and because solitary bees donâ€™t produce honey or have a queen to protect they arenâ€™t aggressive meaning they are safe to encourage around children, pets and people who are scared of bees normally. â€œAs a company weâ€™ve given ourselves a very clear brief,â€ said Gavin Christman, co founder of Green&Blue. â€œWe want to make a real difference to wildlife and we feel that by finding ways to work with the construction industry we have a real power we can harness to make a massive change. Bee brick is our starting point and weâ€™re looking at more innovative solutions we can develop.â€ Learn more about what the bee brick does here. Learn more about solitary bees here. Learn more about what you can do in your own garden here.