Post Pollinator Awareness Week Post!

Yesterday was the last day of Pollinator Awareness Week (13th-19th July 2015) so I thought I would give a little update on all the pollinators I’ve been aware of this past week. When I arrived home from my little Scottish adventure, I found that my butterflies had emerged (see Day 23, Day 25 and Day 28 of 30 Days Wild for more info). I had three beautiful peacocks which I let go in my courtyard – it was magical to see them fluttering off together. Unfortunately it appears that the small tortoiseshell got stuck halfway out of it’s chrysalis and didn’t survive.

Some new neighbours moved in while I was away… my basil and mint plants have been almost completely scoffed by these caterpillars which I’ve been told are Mint Moth larvae, Pyrausta aurata. Well, good luck to them. I’m not one to go around trying to save my plants from wildlife. Obviously I would like some herbs left for cooking with but the main reason I created this garden was to give a little help to invertebrates and pollinators in a concrete jungle.

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The Mint Moth larvae, Pyrausta aurata, devouring my herb garden!

On Tuesday Marcus and I went to town and came across this swarm of bees that had been cordoned off by security staff. The Cornerhouse in Nottingham is home to a cinema, various eateries and two bee hives. The hives are kept on the roof in a little potted vegetable garden and there is a viewing window on the top floor . Marcus and I always stop to have a peek to see how they are getting on when we leave the cinema. Today it seems there was a small swarm which settled on a tree outside. The Bee Keeper’s Association were called to try to take the swarm away and a safety barrier was put around the tree. I got told off a couple of times by the security for getting too close but it was too interesting to watch this beekeeper at work! I took a couple of photographs and tweeted them to Nottingham Post who then asked to use them in their news story.

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A professional beekeeper trying to remove the bees from the city centre. He needed to find the queen and move her to this temporary wicker hive basket so that the workers would follow.

We popped into Castle Marina Sainsbury’s on our way down to the canal. I was impressed by this huge declaration of being bee friendly but when I asked a store assistant if I could see the bee hotels on this store she didn’t have a clue what I was talking about…

[Edit 26/07/2015 – I have been in touch with Sainsbury’s via Twitter and Lynne directed me towards some helpful information on the website. It seems that Sainsbury’s are actually working quite hard with suppliers and farmers to protect bee friendly habitats as well as providing bee hotels on their farms and in their stores.]

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Very positive start – hopefully they will invest in more projects like this.

On Wednesday I went out to Clifton Woods LNR with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for a day of balsam bashing 🙂 It was a very hot day and I was grateful to be in the shade of this wonderful woodland – one that I haven’t visited before but will definitely be going back to. There are four giant redwoods in the forest which serve as landmarks for walkers and fishermen. We got to work on pulling the balsam which had overtaken quite a few areas. For those who don’t know, Himalayan Balsam was brought into this country by Victorian gardeners but has spread widely along many river banks and waste spaces since. It has become an problem invasive species because it grows to 10ft tall and spreads very easily with explosive seed pods that can deposit up to 7m away and are viable for 2 years (1). The plants block out light and compete with any low growing wildflowers or shrubs meaning that the landscape becomes one of only balsam. By removing the balsam we are promoting biodiversity in the woodland and giving other plants a chance to come through.

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One of the things I love most about volunteering with the Trust is finding out about places like this that I never knew existed but now I can go back and enjoy in my own time.

I saw so many butterflies at Clifton Woods that I had trouble keeping count. There were Small Tortoiseshells, Commas, Large & Small Skippers, Large Whites, Speckled Woods and Gatekeepers. All very beautiful and colourful. I also found a ragged old moth on my lunchbox when we settled down for tea – not sure if an ID is possible on this one but I’ll update if I find out.

We found this wild honeybee nest in a fallen tree which I was very excited about. The bees got a bit upset at first as we hadn’t realised they were there and had been getting closer and closer making noise and pulling up the balsam cover. However they soon settled down and I was thrilled to be able to collect an old, empty bit of comb that had fallen from the log about 30cm from the hive entrance. Something for my nature table 🙂 I spent a while watching them and trying to get a good photograph but with only my mobile phone it was a bit tricky. Here are my best shots… you can just make out a few bees caught in the sun!

On Thursday I spent some time on campus watching the bees on the lavender outside Portland Builiding. We have alot of male Bombus lapidarius at the moment. They are beautiful coloured bees but it makes me a bit sad to think that the appearance of males is a signal that the summer bumblebee season is coming to an end. Other bumblebees spotted were the Common Carder, Bombus pascuorum, Bombus lucorum agg. and Bombus terrestris. There are also a lot of honeybees – I think there might be a couple of hives on campus somewhere that are looked after by the allotment society.

I feel that I’ve done pollinators proud this week – taking some nice photos and ticking off a few butterfly species for this year. I’ve downloaded the Big Butterfly Count app and I’m looking forward to logging some of my sightings over the next month. Check it out and get involved too!

All images subject to copyright. All opinions expressed on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent the view of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust for whom I volunteer, or any other organisation.

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