Bee Guardianship

Twenty-five bee cocoons have arrived in the post.

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The bee cocoons.

These are the cocoons of Red Mason Bees – solitary bees that are fantastic pollinators. In fact, one Red Mason Bee has the same effectiveness in the pollination department as 120 Honey Bees. This is because they don’t have pollen baskets on their legs like Honey Bees do. They gather the pollen on the underside of their body which is less efficient – lots of pollen falls off, thus pollinating plants.

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Internet photo of a Red Mason Bee carrying pollen on its tummy.

The idea of the bee guardianship scheme is that you allow the bees to hatch out, you give them a great environment to forage for pollen and build their nests and, by the Autumn, you have many more cocoons to send back to be cleared of parasites and safely stored over the winter. In these uncertain times for bees, this produces an ever growing bee bank.

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Here is a Red Mason Bee from the meadows last year:

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And here is a view of its nest. The bee flies from late March to June and it brings in a pile of pollen, lays an egg on the pile and then builds a mud wall to seal it all up.

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The egg hatches and the grub feasts on the pollen before turning into a cocoon in the Autumn.

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We have set the equipment up. The cocoons are in the wooden box with the hole for the bees to fly out from once they have hatched.

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The hope is that they will use the tubes above the box to make their nests.

Anyway, maybe that will all work and I have some filled tubes to send back at the end of the season. There is not a huge amount of blossom about at the moment but it won’t be long, especially if it ever gets a bit warmer.

Our bird list has now reached 63 species, with a Redwing appearing on the perch:

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We also had a pair of Mallards circling above and coming down on the pond today – not very exciting news perhaps but its  quite a rare event for here. We have only had ducks once before when the pond was very new and had a lot of open water to catch their eye as they flew over. A poor photo but was taken from a very long way away.

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My goodness I hope they don’t decide to linger and nest here, there are just too many predators around for ground nesting birds. My nerves couldn’t take it. Also very foolhardy is this sweet rabbit, appearing in the gateway into the meadows from the cliff on the fox and badger super highway. It needs to get itself away from there and fast.

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