Across the rec
Nature_Garden

 Nature Notes 

 Review of 2021  

 Robins 

 Meadow Maintenance 

 Sweet Chestnut 

 Ants 

 Butterflies 

 Pesticides 

 Stag Beetles 

 Hay Meadows 

 Goat Willow 

 Crows 

 Winter Trees 

 Ivy 

 Take it easy 

 Falling Leaves 

 Horse Chestnut 

 Bats 

 Pollinator Patch 

 Bird Song 

 Dandelions 

 Garden - May 

 Garden - Apr 

 Birch Trees 

 Rotting Wood 

 Starlings 

 Mistletoe 

 Bramble 

 Hedgehogs 

 Sowing Seeds 

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Notes from my Garden - Apr 2020

 

As we enter the 4th week of the lockdown, life seems to be adjusting to a new normality which is uncomfortably different, especially for people like me who’ve been advised to stay at home for 12 weeks ….only 8 more to go…… maybe?!

 

Now, nearly all my experience of ‘real life’ is mediated through the radio and TV, and the Rec is sadly out of bounds. But I am lucky enough to have garden, and so I’m able to watch Spring unfolding as Nature puts on her very best flowering, buzzing, burgeoning display.

 

Amongst the creatures I’ve noticed flying around in the garden is one of the earliest bee species to emerge, the wonderfully named Hairy-Footed Flower Bee (Anthophora plumipes). It looks like a small bumblebee and sounds like a bumblebee, but its swift, darting flight and ability to hover, makes it more redolent of a hoverfly. It is a bee, but not of the ‘bumbling’ variety, it’s a type of solitary bee. Solitary bees don’t nest communally like the bumblebees and honey bees; each female creates and provisions her own nest in underground burrows or other cracks and crevices especially in buildings.

The Hairy-Footed flower bee has a preference for mortar, exposed banks or soft cliff faces, but they will occasionally nest in the ground in compact clay soils.

 

This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, meaning that the male and female look quite different. The male tends to emerge a couple of weeks before the female, usually at the beginning of March. He is tawny brown in colour with a distinguishing cream coloured patch on his lower face. If he stays still for long enough, you might see the long plume of hairs on the lower part of his middle legs, which give rise to the species’ name. These hairs are thought to play a part in the mating process. The male bees are very territorial and will protect their patch by chasing off intruders. They have been observed flying at speed to head butt any unfortunate insect that happens to stray onto their home ground!! His role is to solely to mate with the female, after which he dies; a short, but happy, if somewhat aggressive, existence! The female is black and easily recognised by the orange hairs on her back legs that make up the pollen basket. Both are about 14mm in length and have a single flight period from March to May.

 

The Hairy-Footed Flower Bee is a long tongued species and often approaches flowers with its tongue extended and on display. Because of its long
reach it favours tubular flowers such as lungwort, dead nettle and comfrey.

As with other solitary bees, once she’s mated, our Hairy-Footed bee will lay the eggs in her chosen nest site. Each egg will be sealed in an individual chamber with a supply of nectar and pollen for the larvae when they emerge. The larvae pupate and for many solitary bee species, they overwinter in this state. However the adult of the Hairy-Footed bee emerges in the autumn and spends up to six months sealed in its chamber until it takes flight the following spring, to start the cycle all over again…..now that’s what you call self isolation!!

 

For some superb photographs, please check out www.flickr.com

 

 

 

 

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