Bee Flower – Coltsfoot

Coltsfoot is in bloom now – 9th March 2017.  It is an Irish native and a member of the aster family – their asterness is obvious in this rather poor header photograph.

I didn’t realise the bees visit this plant but here is the evidence – note the lemon yellow pollen loads.

Honey bee visiting Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) note yellow pollen loads
Honey bee visiting Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) note yellow pollen loads

Coltsfoot is unusual in that the flowers come out before any leaves are visible. The heart shaped leaves come along later and are not at all like a dandelion.

It is thought that Coltsfoot flowers are a cure for coughs.

Click here for more March bee flowers

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Irish Beekeepers Protest

Beekeepers of Ireland rise up and protest against the Heritage Bill before it all goes up in flames!

Gorse in full bloom
Gorse in full bloom

Meet outside Dáil Éireann with Gerry Ryan et al at 12.30 on 2nd March 2017 and let our Senators know we are against this stupid Bill!

Click here for more about the Heritage Bill

Click here for the full text of the  Seanad debate on this Bill in November2016 and which will be continued this Thursday

Heritage Bill?

The Heritage Bill, due before the Seanad this week (21st February 2017 ) seems to have nothing at all to do with Heritage other than to extend the period landowners or County Councils can burn, cut,  grub or otherwise erase the natural bit from the landscape. That natural bit is the bit our bees rely on.

This the part of the bill that will most affect us:

“…permit to the burning of vegetation in March, during such period or periods and in such areas of the State as the Minister may specify. Section 8 also provides for the amendment of section 40 to allow landowners or their agents to cut, grub or destroy vegetation in any hedge or ditch during August, subject to such Regulations as the Minister may make….”

I don’t need to tell you that the gorse (aka furze) is in bloom in March and our bees are all over it gathering vital early spring forage. If it is grubbed out and burnt at all, but especially in March, our bees, wild bees and other insects will all be deprived of a valuable early spring pollen source.

Gorse in full bloom
Gorse in full bloom

As for cutting, grubbing and burning in August – well I  also don’t need to tell you that – although our honey crop may be in, our bees are busily working all the other flowers in the hedgerows for as long as the weather allows in their build up for winter. Blackberry, for one, can flower well into October.

Let’s not forget that the heather will bloom all the way through August and into September. Heather is defined as scrub too.

Ling heather (Calluna vulgaris) honey
Heather in August

Hedgecutting usually means  decapitating mature hawthorn trees so there will be no flowers for the bees on such victims for several years.

Then there’s other important bee trees – willow and hazel – otherwise known as scrub. We need all of this stuff!

Let’s not forget the ivy either!

This bill is due before the Seanad this week – 21st February 2017 -and beekeepers need to make their feelings known to their TDs, Senators and MEPs before it is all too late:

All TDs

Fine Gael

Fianna Fail

Sinn Fein

Independent Alliance

Labour

Greens

Senators

MEPs

Detail

Here’s the section or the ‘Heritage’ Bill that will have most effect on bees, birds and other wildlife – vertebrate and invertebrate:

Part 3
Wildlife

Section 7 sets out definitions relating to the wildlife primary legislation.

Section 8 provides for amendments to section 40 of the Wildlife Acts. The new provisions under section 8 give the Minister power by Regulations to permit to the burning of vegetation in March, during such period or periods and in such areas of the State as the Minister may specify. Section 8 also provides for the amendment of section 40 to allow landowners or their agents to cut, grub or destroy vegetation in any hedge or ditch during August, subject to such Regulations as the Minister may make.

Section 9 relates to updating references to Inland Fisheries Ireland and to current fisheries legislation.

Section 10 provides for clarification of the powers of authorised officers of the Department and An Garda Síochána under the Wildlife Acts.

Section 11 provides for the updating of penalties for offences under the Wildlife Acts and the introduction of fixed payment notices for certain offences.

 

Christmas – Bees and Wintering

Christmas is one of the four quarter days which mark the changing of the seasons.

The four quarter days are:

  • Lady day or the Feast of the Annunciation 25th March;
  • Midsummer’s day around 25th June;
  • Michaelmas 29th September;
  • Christmas 25th December – lest we forget – fat chance.

They all approximately coincide with either an equinox or a solstice.

Continue reading Christmas – Bees and Wintering

Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020

The picture above is by Vincent Van Gogh (obviously says you), it lives in the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam and is called ‘Wheatfield with Crows’.  It was painted in 1890 – possibly his last picture. Vincent didn’t know about climate change or intensive agriculture; if he had, he would probably have cut the other ear off and left the crows out.  Continue reading Ireland Pollinator Plan 2015-2020

Pollination and Honey Bees

So, why are honey bees such important pollinators?

From an ecological point of view there are at least 3 reasons:

  • Honeybees have evolved in tandem with certain flowers and they have adapted to facilitate each other;
  • One bee is able to rapidly communicate the location of a pollen/nectar source to the whole hive and an army sets out;
  • The bees then concentrate faithfully on that flower species until the pollen runs out or the nectar dries up, at which point the job of pollination is accomplished.

These features obviously make the honey bee important from an agricultural/commercial point of view. In addition, hives of bees are mobile and can be moved from crop to crop – an arrangement which can suit bees, farmers and beekeepers so long as everyone has a bit of respect. Wouldn’t that be great?

But some detail: Continue reading Pollination and Honey Bees

Information For Humans Beeing