Today was a big day for me! It was the first time I’ve led my Wildlife Watch group solo 🙂 In May I led the wild flower seed planting (courtesy of Grow Wild) and pot decorating activity but the majority of the session was taken by one of my co-leaders.
This morning I definitely had pre-show nerves. I’d planned the two hour outdoor session to be all about bees using the amazing resources that I got from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in my membership pack and also at the Pollinating the Peak conference in Chesterfield. The idea was to spend the first half introducing bumblebees with a bit of identification skills and life cycle facts, then spend the second part constructing bee hotels out of recycled materials. Last night I was in a bit of a tizz and fretting that we wouldn’t see a single bee but actually; it went remarkably to plan!
After a short safety briefing we took a walk around Martin’s Pond & Harrison’s Plantation looking for bees. I explained the differences between honeybees and bumblebees and introduced the national surveys and work being carried out by the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. We spoke about the importance of pollinators; why they are declining so dramatically; and what we can do to help them (linking in to the previous session on wild flower planting).
We found 2 early bumblebees, Bombus pratorum, and a lot of tree bumblebees, Bombus hypnorum and a communal mining bee. It’s really interesting to note that the tree bumblebee was only discovered in the south of England 15 years ago and has been moving further and further north ever since so that now it has colonised most of England and Wales. We also caught a bumblebee mimic hoverfly which was great because it helped me to explain the anatomical differences of bees and flies.
We spent the final hour of our session building bee hotels out of plastic bottles, hollowed bamboo canes, old hosepipe, clay and twine. Hopefully the kids will hang these in their garden and provide a wonderful winter home to some bees that can then feed on the wild flowers we planted last month!
All in all, a thoroughly fun day and I was pretty proud to have delivered it 🙂
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