Following on from my recent post about the Bumblebees in my garden I have continued to enjoy watching the bees tumbling all over the raspberry flowers, but now that these seem to be mainly set as fruit and there is slightly less activity going on around the patch.
However the bees haven’t left the garden but seem to have turned their attention to the leaves on my cherry tree. There seems to be a frenzy of bee activity, mainly in the early evening, so I have been having a closer look (and a few photos of course) as this behaviour all seems very strange as there are not actually any flowers here for them to feed on…
It appears that as we have now effectively reached what beekeepers refer to as the ‘June gap’, this is the time between the end of the spring flowers and the arrival of the summer flowers, when there is less natural forage for bees of any kind to feed on. In an absence of sweet nectar from flowers the bees appear to have taken to ‘milking’ the sugary secretion from the aphids that have ‘attacked’ the underside of the youngest leaves at the end of the branches on my cherry tree.
According to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BCT) this behaviour appears to be becoming increasingly common.
“The secretions offer a substitute for nectar, but do not contain the protein the insects need to stay healthy. Bumblebees can only get their protein from pollen, which they feed to their growing young, so it is essential for a healthy population.”
The bumblebees’ behaviour of feeding on secretions from aphids could be a further sign of the problems facing the insects.
There have been warnings that bumblebee and wild bee populations around the UK are experiencing “catastrophic declines”.
Possibly of even greater concern is that many trees are sprayed with pesticides to kill off the aphids and this will have a knock-on effect of killing the bumblebees at a time when they are already considered to be under threat and in decline across the UK.
There were recent reports of mass wipeouts with 25,000 bees killed in the US following the application of a pesticide to control aphids and this could be happening all over the world – a very sad thought indeed….
It’s not all doom and gloom though as the UK government have finally appeared to have woken up the problems with our wild pollinators (after recently trying to block a 2-year EU ban on the use of three of the most damaging neonicotinoids) and are launching an ‘urgent’ review and plans to to introduce a national pollinator strategy. I hope this is not just political point scoring and some very urgent action is taken before we have lost these essential and beautiful insects and experience the knock on effects on both our economy and food production.
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