It's tricky when things turn out not quite as expected and there's a whole variety of things to report, so to be brief here's a round up of today's events and findings:
- We have some quick responses from the Bumble Bee Conservation Trust on the ID of some bee pics we submitted. The most exciting of these was a possible Red Shanked Carder - which is like a Redtail but apparently has red hairs around the pollen baskets. Ours did, although it was a male, so strictly did not have pollen baskets. The verdict is indeed it was a Redtail - we are told by the BBCT they often have red hairs. This seems to contradict their own ID information which says they are black. So, glad to have clarification but yet another source of frustration in trying to ID the bees.
- Our ID of some Tree bees was confirmed as well as Early Bees, so it's great to have a positive on that and some photos to match. Also my ID on the Garden Bee (where I got the really close up face photos) was confirmed too. I thought maybe some kind of cuckoo bee, but the expert says not.
- Finally, nothing conclusive on the "camouflaged" bee I found in the ditch alongside the Garden bee mentioned above other than some kind of cuckoo. It is probably either a Gypsy Cuckoo, Field Cuckoo, or Barbut's Cuckoo. I actually favour the latter due to the extra light brown band on the lower thorax and given it was 2 feet away from the garden bumble bee (which it typically attacks) there's a certain serendipty to it.
- We confirmed we have a hedgehog visiting the garden with a 5 second CCTV clip from 4am in the morning of him crossing the garden. We suspect he is going for the tray of bird seed which goes down rapidly! And it explains the opening under the fence that has been mysteriously created. We don't mind him coming as long as he stays away from the bins!
- We also discovered a cat on the CCTV getting on top our bee hive, between it and the shelter roof! It shook the box a bit and knocked the thermometer off, but all the cameras and bees seemed to remain intact, which is a minor miracle. Can't say I'm too happy about this particular event; cats are generally a nuisance to the rest of the wildlife and the lawnmower!
- More to report on the behaviour of bees in their last moments. We tracked down the 3rd bee that has appeared on "hive corner" where two dead bees rest and discovered it went their of its own accord and over the course of 2 hours was finally laid to rest. Extremely intriguing behaviour to see it choose its final moments in the corner where the other (that we know of) departed bees also lie.
There is also good news to report on how our new disabled bees are doing with their indoor care. The smallest and weakest which appeared to die made a slow recovery and appears to continue that recovery with each passing day. She is too small and frail to join our other special care bees, but it's amazing to see her near miraculous discovery. Today for the first time she explored some cut lavender placed in her box and appeared to try taking nectar from it. This is the first time since being in our care that she has made such a large effort to get food of her own accord; and of course it will be the best type for her. We watch with interest.
And finally, littleBigBee was added to Holly's nest earlier in the week and from the word go they got on charmingly. There appear to be no adverse affects or domestic incidents so far! LBB is very funny - he warms up in the nestbox, feeds a little, then scoots out and zooms around the the outside area; he particularly loves to climb over the roof of the nestbox and check that gravity still works. Which it invariably does.
Once he is satisfied that the outside world is more-or-less still outside and still as he left it, he heads straight back into the nestbox with great purpose and shoots round the outside edge back to the "warm end" (lit with infra red). He repeated this route as a matter of course, but lately has started shortcutting his exit from the box and has now entirely created his own one way system in and out of the nest box ; all highly enteraining, if strictly unnecessary. It is unlikely to be down to health and safety given the way he behaves on the roof, which would put any of Matt Allwright's Rogue Traders to shame.
Our delight is that he is habiting both worlds - going to rest and sleep and groom inside the nestbox and coming out of it at other times to - well, whatever it is he does, which is run round the whole area, climb everything there is to be climb, drink everything there is to be drunk. He is very much a boy. This is unlike BLB who after a few days came out of the nestbox and never really bothered to go back in it. It seems, however, that LBB has figured out the relationship between the environments we have created and his natural instincts in the wild. Obviously we are thrilled with this.