Wednesday, 27 June 2012

The Bee's Knees

Common Carder Bee
Small holes have appeared in the path behind the greenhouse and small bees keep disappearing into them.  We obviously have a nest there.  Last year we had a nest in the compost bin.  Everytime I went near it an angry buzzing filled the air and two or three bees came out to stare at me maliciously.  That was a bit intimidating but they don't sting unless they feel threatened so I used the other compost bin.

The nests start in Spring with the queen bee laying her first batch of eggs which hatched into her worker bees. In July she will produce eggs that will turn into males and new queen bees.  These will leave the colony and mate meaning there will be fertile queen bees to survive the winter by hibernating and begin the cycle again. 
White tailed Bumble Bee
Bumble Bees live in colonies of 50 - 200 bees while Honey bee colonies are around 60,000.
Bees have to visit about two million flowers to make one jar of honey! They were really busy in our garden today. I was chopping back the Laurel bush and didn't take much notice of the buzzing noise at first but one individual was particulary loud as it worked its way round the Foxgloves.  That's when I realised how many different types were visiting the borders.  In just thirty minutes we had White tailed Bumble Bee; Red tailed Bumble Bee; Common Carder Bee; Garden Bee and Honey Bee. 

Honey bee
This one has worked so hard it has damaged its wings.

Honey Bee
The Bee's Knees
They have special sacks to store pollen on their knees.
In my last post I decided the Foxgloves were going to be dug up ... the bees seem to like them more than I do so I won't dispose of them I'll just move them then we'll all be happy.
The Verbascum is still definitely on my hit list .... but the caterpillars have got there first!  This is a Mullein caterpillar.  It will eat my plant then turn into a pupa and stay underground for five years before turning into a moth that looks just like a brown leaf.

This Buff Ermine Moth was another garden visitor.  I had to rescue it as it was under attack from a party of ants.
Buff Ermine Moth

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