Bumblebee Aware November 2022
strangely warm weather this Autumn has resulted in many Winter shrubs like
Mahonia and Viburnum bodnantense flowering early.
This may be good news for pollinators still gathering food to add to
their stores, but it makes the threat of a frost more worrying for gardeners.
When it gets cold, honeybees can retire to their hive and snuggle down
with the thousands of their sisters and enjoy the honey in the combs at any
time. Queen bumblebees hibernate
alone in a secure niche if they can find one and will only survive if their fur
is thick enough and their internal fat store is big enough to keep them ticking
over slowly until the Spring.
you see a groggy bumblebee this month, she may be too cold to fly rather than
hungry and so she will benefit from being brought into a warm place (and offered
sugar-water) for a few minutes. Once
she has started to move about more actively, it is best to put her back outside
under some safe cover, near to where you found her so that she can fly away when
she is ready.
there are two types of drones in the world of bees.
These are: male bees, who do no work and are only produced for mating,
and flying mini-helicopters which are being developed to act as artificial
pollinators. This research is aimed
at helping tomato growers because bumblebees are the only insects that can shake
the pollen out of the anthers and effect fertilisation.
They do this by landing on the flower and then buzzing, shivering their
wing muscles, in an action known as buzz-pollination.
The producers of these drones seem to think that by flying them over the
flowers, they will agitate them enough to release pollen.
This may work for wind-pollinated species in a polytunnel, but it will do
nothing to replace the wild insects if they die out.
Time will tell how effective these machines are.
insects play? An apparently daft
question I admit butů Researchers have found that bumblebees can be trained to
push a ball into a hole if trained with a sugar-water reward.
They were surprised to find that these bees will also voluntarily push
balls around even when there is no reward and will choose to walk through a
chamber containing balls rather than a parallel empty one. This frivolous
behaviour would seem to have no survival value so does this mean that they do it
just for fun, to experience enjoyment? Do
they have a very low threshold for boredom?
Just what are these wonderful furry creatures thinking about as they go
about the normal daily business of their short lives?
Doble (Volunteer with the Bumblebee
Conservation Trust) November 2022