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No Bees?

Posted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:22 pm
by Weedo
The bees have gone! This year has been tough around here, very dry autumn, winter and spring and now summer has arrived hot, dry and windy (38 c today) .

A result of this is that the bees are disappearing so veg and fruit are not being pollinated. I haven't seen a bee in the veg patch for weeks now, there are a very few around the Carob on the West of the house (normally crowded) and even fewer on the rest of the place. Normally, in summer, every water trough would have bees around it drinking but at the moment only a couple have. Flies are a different matter; every conceivable size, shape and colour swarming everywhere - you get tired just carrying them around.

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Sun Dec 17, 2017 10:52 pm
by MKG
We've been through a couple of those, Weedo. Those flies, if they're anything like ours, do a bit of pollination - not half as good as bees, but it's something. Other than that, it's a camel-hair water-colour brush, a good supply of beer and a gentle afternoon distributing pollen yourself. I recommend a peaceful bit of Brahms as Meatloaf tends to make you overdo things.

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 8:03 am
by Green Aura
It's terrifying. We have a protected site in the village - home to the Great Yellow, which apparently only has a few habitats in north and west Scotland left. When we were setting it up had several talks from some university bod who gave us advice on providing a bee-friendly environment.
You can't do anything about the weather obviously but maybe you can help by planting fodder plants around your land in "corridors" for them to travel. This area only gets mowed, grazed or raked once a year (in autumn) to clear the sward and let the flowers grow. I also saw an idea for a bee-feeding dish filled with sugar water and marbles to stop them drowning which you could also dot about to help them cover the distance.
I appreciate you're probably talking about much greater distances for the bees to travel than our little Highland village (and obviously we don't have the high temperatures) but anything you can do will help.

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Mon Dec 18, 2017 9:31 pm
by Weedo
MKG - this will probably be the process for the pumpkins and melons but I think, given the current heat wave (forecast 43 c
/ 109F )today, the toms and capsicums will be abandoned to their fate (other than water). Any ideas for the 4 bulls that seem content to just lay around in the shade and ignore the ladies?

Maggie - the bee mainstay here is the Eucalypt trees with at least one species in flower throughout the year; supplimented in season by clovers, lucerne etc. and crops like Canola - a lot of commercial hives are brought in at cost to the farmer to pollinate crops now. The limiting factor seems to be surface water. (Incidentally the honey bee is a feral species here and competes with our native bees)

We are starting a planting programme next year to replace the original vegetation on parts of the farm - including local flowering shrubs that will assist the bees - as well as our native bees, birds and insects. The first planting will be a corridor 30m wide X 2 Km long with 2500 plants.

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 8:10 am
by Flo
Even with a flowering programme on the allotment of bee friendly plants, bees are not as common as they were when I first started.

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 8:22 am
by ina
I think that's one thing we've all noticed, wherever we are: fewer bees. And we (on -ish, I mean) are all aware of what we can do and do our bit... Unlike most of my neighbours, who would find even normal lawn too untidy looking and tend to go for chuckies!

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:07 pm
by Weedo
I think around my patch the limiting factors (other than surface water) would include ongoing removal of trees, particularly the old reds and yellows with the hive hollows, and the increasing number of neighbours now growing lucerne and clovers for hay commercially.

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Sun May 13, 2018 10:58 pm
by Weedo
The sunflowers this year are a total loss. Although they grew very well, most have only empty husks. Not enough bees to polinate sufficiently I guess.

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 11:41 am
by MKG
Well, I hate to go against the general trend, but we have loads of bees already - particularly very large and noisy bumble bees. There's also lots of stuff flowering, so they seem happy.
Buzzy wuzzy mumble ...

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 12:02 pm
by Odsox
I didn't want to contradict anyone either, but we are overwhelmed by bees of all sorts, from every size of bumble bee you can think of, to several different species of solitary bee and loads of our own native Irish black honey bees.
Of course it might be because there is no arable farming within 40 miles to the east, probably 100 miles to the north and many thousands of miles to the west.

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 3:18 pm
by Green Aura
Yup, we've got plenty too - I wonder if they're so busy after a late start. We have the Great Yellow here, as well as the usual bumble bees, although I haven't seen any yet.

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Mon May 14, 2018 10:38 pm
by Weedo
Great you all have heaps of bees - all the species you mention are actually feral here, including the common honey bee, but are now so essential to food production that farmers pay bee keepers to bring their hives in. Apparently it is now more profitable than the honey. Tomato growers have been trying to (legally) bring in the bumble bee for many years but so far common sense has prevailed among the law makers - Bumble bees are endemic pests in Tasmania.

I can now find only one of native bee around my patch; the tiny stingless ones. The larger (solitary?) blue banded, leaf cutter bees etc. seem to have disappeared in recent years.

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Tue May 15, 2018 4:19 am
by ina
Weedo wrote:
Mon May 14, 2018 10:38 pm
Great you all have heaps of bees - all the species you mention are actually feral here, including the common honey bee, but are now so essential to food production that farmers pay bee keepers to bring their hives in. Apparently it is now more profitable than the honey. Tomato growers have been trying to (legally) bring in the bumble bee for many years but so far common sense has prevailed among the law makers - Bumble bees are endemic pests in Tasmania.
I've read two very good books on the issue of bees recently - both highly recommended:

The history of bees - Maja Lunde. It's a "history" that looks into a possible future - frightening.

And the other one about bumble bees:
A Sting in the Tale, by Dave Goulson.

Without bees, the future does look dim. I've not seen many around here this year; only a few bumble bees - queens, I suppose, so there's hope yet. Everything is very late this year.

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 6:55 am
by sususanan
Can something be done to encourage bees to set up home without it being a honey hive?

Re: No Bees?

Posted: Fri May 18, 2018 7:02 am
by Green Aura
Not all bees produce honey. Some are solitary, ground-dwelling, some in swarms etc. You can buy or make insect "hotels" - some of the solitary bees like those. And leave a patch of uncultivated ground, with weeds and wild flowers - that provides habitat and food, especially in early spring.