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Offline Roger Parsons  
#261 Posted : 27 May 2019 06:14:50(UTC)
Roger Parsons

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Location: Lincolnshire

Moths are declining in the UK. Why do moths matter?
https://butterfly-conservation.org/moths/why-moths-matter



Roger

Edited by user 27 May 2019 06:26:05(UTC)  | Reason: addition

RogerP

West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire

No county (Lincolnshire) has better churches and worse houses. The poorer sort of people wash their clothes with hog's dung, and burn dried cow's dung for want of better fuel; whence comes the Lincolnshire proverb: "Where the hogs shite soap and the cows shite fire".

Curiosities of Great Britain (c.1780)

Offline DEW  
#262 Posted : 28 May 2019 07:01:42(UTC)
DEW

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Location: Chichester 12m. asl

Rather than tangle up the tree and insect threads any further, I've lifted this across

Originally Posted by: Lionel Hutz Go to Quoted Post

Thanks for that, DEW, that answers the question.

There may be an explanation for the apparently contradictory nature of the highlighted bit. Bees love the nectar from lime flowers. However, it is so sweet that they can become intoxicated - drunk effectively https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/aug/23/plantwatch-lime-tree-linden-summer-nectar  So that might why it's described as poisonous to bees.

 

When we lived in urban Manchester, I grew some angelica in the garden, for home candying. It must have been the only bee plant around, as it attracted a large number of bees. They used to stagger around the large flower heads and several then simply fell off - drunk or what?

It was most foule weather ... and so we went into an alehouse - Samuel Pepys
Offline Roger Parsons  
#263 Posted : 04 June 2019 17:53:32(UTC)
Roger Parsons

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Joined: 23/11/2008(UTC)
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Man
Location: Lincolnshire

Swarms and Chimneys...

A word of explanation before I get going to the main subject of this post. A queen bee is larger than her workers. [Let's forget the drones for now, as their only have mating on their agendas]. A beekeeper needs to keep the queen away from the honey being stored by the workers in the "supers" - she will otherwise spoil things by laying eggs there, turning it into a nursery, contaminating the honey and making it unsuitable for sale. To achieve this separation, beekeepers have devised the idea of a "queen excluder" which will allow worker bees to filter through, but not a queen, who won't fit. Simple but effective.

When we bought our house 2+ years ago we did not know at the time that we had a wild colony of honeybees down a redundant chimney. It was winter and there were no clues. Come the spring we started finding bees in the house, getting down another chimney by mistake. We love bees, and it was no trouble to catch them and let them out again, but it was clear that spring that bees were in residence.

We tolerated this until the time came for the scaffolding and re-roofing of the house, when the bees had to be destroyed. All their wax and honey was removed - a lot of it! Then came the question - what to do about preventing reoccupation by a swarm? You need to leave a redundant flue to "breathe", but how best to stop a new lot of little darlings coming back as tenants? I persuaded the builders to use an old zinc queen excluder for the job. This was securely built in across the top of the flue opening, and the chimney pot placed on top. The theory was that if a swam were to attempt to come in, the excluder would prevent the queen going down into the chimney, she would be stuck at "pot level". I hope that makes sense.

Pic of a zinc queen excluder:

https://www.thorne.co.uk/hardware-clothing/hive-hardware/queen-excluders

Last week on the first hot day a swarm came in and there was a lot of insect excitement as they landed on the chimney pot. It must have smelled great with the residual honey from the previous occupation. A day later there was scarcely a bee checking the chimney, the rest appear to have absconded. We assume that the scout bees who found the site received a good talking to about lack of access to the property. A very encouraging start to the test of my idea. I will report on progress.

Roger


Edited by user 05 June 2019 07:45:00(UTC)  | Reason: addition

RogerP

West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire

No county (Lincolnshire) has better churches and worse houses. The poorer sort of people wash their clothes with hog's dung, and burn dried cow's dung for want of better fuel; whence comes the Lincolnshire proverb: "Where the hogs shite soap and the cows shite fire".

Curiosities of Great Britain (c.1780)

Offline The Beast from the East  
#264 Posted : 04 June 2019 23:16:23(UTC)
The Beast from the East

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Location: Purley, Surrey

Fascinating Roger and you write very well

I have had issues with wasp nests over the years in the roof, if I can get access, ant powder works well. 

But if they get into the attic, then a professional needs to be called

 

"We have some alternative facts for you"

Kelly-Ann Conway - special adviser to the President

Offline Roger Parsons  
#265 Posted : 05 June 2019 05:49:25(UTC)
Roger Parsons

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Joined: 23/11/2008(UTC)
Posts: 779
Man
Location: Lincolnshire

Originally Posted by: The Beast from the East Go to Quoted Post

Fascinating Roger and you write very well

I have had issues with wasp nests over the years in the roof, if I can get access, ant powder works well. 

But if they get into the attic, then a professional needs to be called

Thanks, Beast. I have had several cries for help this year from folks with bees down their chimneys. It is sometimes possible for a skilled pest control person to get them out alive, but not often.

There is a product which claims to frighten off wasps and deter them from nesting - the Waspinator. It looks sufficiently like a wasp's nest to make them instinctively move on somewhere else. I've never tried it.

Roger

RogerP

West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire

No county (Lincolnshire) has better churches and worse houses. The poorer sort of people wash their clothes with hog's dung, and burn dried cow's dung for want of better fuel; whence comes the Lincolnshire proverb: "Where the hogs shite soap and the cows shite fire".

Curiosities of Great Britain (c.1780)

Offline Northern Sky  
#266 Posted : 06 June 2019 16:39:11(UTC)
Northern Sky

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Joined: 16/08/2010(UTC)
Posts: 3,613
Location: Leeds W Yorks

Had a walk to the shop from work today and as I returned I realised that during the 5min walk there and back I'd barely seen an insect - even a fly. I passed so many gardens that were either just lawn or for the most part concrete or gravel and it reminded me how so much of our landscape is so unfriendly towards insects. It's no wonder they have declined so much.

Sitting at home in my garden I can pretend that things are fine because it is alive with insects of all kinds and I suppose being very close to a large woodland helps. It does show though how much of a difference each of us can make as individuals. The very unscientific trends from my garden this year are big numbers of aphids, ladybirds and bees and less than usual butterflies and spiders. Although we may be into the 'June lull' for butterflies at the moment?

Offline TimS  
#267 Posted : 08 June 2019 20:19:18(UTC)
TimS

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Posts: 9,313
Location: Brockley

I really struggle to understand what’s changed in the last 15 years or so to have such an impact on insect life. You’d think the way we lived in the 80s would have been more damaging.

One species is thriving though: the box moth. Our box plants are fine at the moment but the neighbours have been decimated.

Brockley, South East London 30m asl
Offline Retron  
#268 Posted : 09 June 2019 05:39:41(UTC)
Retron

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Joined: 05/04/2006(UTC)
Posts: 23,707
Location: Leysdown-on-Sea

Originally Posted by: TimS Go to Quoted Post
I really struggle to understand what’s changed in the last 15 years or so to have such an impact on insect life. You’d think the way we lived in the 80s would have been more damaging.

I live in what these days would be classed as an estate, but it grew up piecemeal from the 1920s onwards with a great deal of variety in building ages and styles. It's rural in setting, only half a dozen roads and surrounded by fields.

Those fields seem to have less variety of crops in them, no more linseed for example, just rape and wheat or barley being alternated. That might account for a bit of the change.

The biggest change though is that when I moved in some 36 years ago, the neighbours were all elderly - there were only a handful of children amongst the 200 or so houses. The elderly folks, being retired, spent a LOT of time in their gardens and it was a lovely scene: lots of flowers, roses, bushes and trees in peoples' gardens. Another side effect was a lack of cars, as these retired folks either didn't drive or did so rarely.

Over the past third of a century most of the elderly neighbours have died (my immediate neighbour to the north is, thankfully, an exception)! What tends to happen then is the bungalows are sold off, the plot is cleared and then two or three new houses are built, short end facing the road rather than the long end (as in my converted bungalow). This has several detrimental effects:

  • More cars, meaning no more front gardens. Of the 20 houses in my road, only four now have a front garden with grass and of those only mine and my elderly neighbour's still have shrubs, flowers, roses and so forth.
  • A massive loss in greenery as the mature trees, shrubs etc that used to be in the back gardens of the bungalows all get swept aside.
  • Less interesting back gardens, as the youngsters buying these houses have no interest in gardening it seems (I don't enjoy it, TBH, but I suspect as I get older I will!) At best these new houses have a concrete patio or decking and a lawn, at worst it's just hardstanding/gravel/artifical grass
  • Much smaller back gardens, as the houses are now taking up the majority of the plot space (versus my plot, which is something like 70% garden, 30% house and outbuildings).
  • When the new houses go up, invariably the strip of (council owned) lawn by the footpath gets tarmaced over. It's just my neighbour and I again who still have that strip of grass.

I know this trend is happening elsewhere too and it must be having a massive effect on wildlife. If it's not sterile fields, it's sterile housing estates!

Edited by user 09 June 2019 08:17:37(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Offline Roger Parsons  
#269 Posted : 09 June 2019 07:00:26(UTC)
Roger Parsons

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Posts: 779
Man
Location: Lincolnshire

A good, useful and moving post, Retron. Thank you for that.
I shall not reiterate my earlier comments. We all seem to share a sense of concern over the trends we detect in the insect world.
One of the obstacles to public understanding of this issue is a general ignorance of the number of insect species and the proportion of life on Earth which they represent. You can't blame people for this gap in their knowledge - even specialists struggle to get a grip on the scale and significance of insects and their place in the wider ecology of the planet. As J. B. S. Haldane expressed it in 1949:

"The Creator would appear as endowed with a passion for stars, on the one hand, and for beetles on the other, for the simple reason that there are nearly 300,000 species of beetle known, and perhaps more, as compared with somewhat less than 9,000 species of birds and a little over 10,000 species of mammals. Beetles are actually more numerous than the species of any other insect order. That kind of thing is characteristic of nature."


Roger

Edited by user 09 June 2019 18:00:59(UTC)  | Reason: + italics

RogerP

West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire

No county (Lincolnshire) has better churches and worse houses. The poorer sort of people wash their clothes with hog's dung, and burn dried cow's dung for want of better fuel; whence comes the Lincolnshire proverb: "Where the hogs shite soap and the cows shite fire".

Curiosities of Great Britain (c.1780)

Offline Caz  
#270 Posted : 09 June 2019 19:20:47(UTC)
Caz

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Location: Market Warsop, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands

We suspected we’d got a bees nest in the loft when hubby was doing some DIY last week as a few were getting into the bedrooms whenever the loft hatch was open.  They’re getting in under the eaves at the front of the house.  I think they’re the ones with orange bums, as I’ve had to let a few out of the window.  Hubby’s brother is a beekeeper and he says they’ll most likely be gone by July!  

I hope he’s right because today I’ve also seen them getting in at the back of the house, so I’m wondering if we have two nests.  

 

Market Warsop, North Nottinghamshire.

Join the fun of the monthly CET competition. Last chance to join in the yearly comp is 2nd March. Discuss monthly temperatures and records.

Offline Roger Parsons  
#271 Posted : 09 June 2019 20:31:19(UTC)
Roger Parsons

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Location: Lincolnshire

Originally Posted by: Caz Go to Quoted Post

We suspected we’d got a bees nest in the loft when hubby was doing some DIY last week as a few were getting into the bedrooms whenever the loft hatch was open.  They’re getting in under the eaves at the front of the house.  I think they’re the ones with orange bums, as I’ve had to let a few out of the window.  Hubby’s brother is a beekeeper and he says they’ll most likely be gone by July!  

I hope he’s right because today I’ve also seen them getting in at the back of the house, so I’m wondering if we have two nests.  

 

Hi Caz. The species you describe is unlikely to cause any issues - the new queens will disperse at the end of their reproductive season, and the workers will die out. They are unlikely to reoccupy the nest(s) for some years, for reasons you will understand.

The Species to be alert for is the new incomer, Bombus hypnorum, which I characterise as a black bee with a white tail and ginger rucksack. If you ever get those refer to this excellent pdf.

https://scottishbeekeepers.org.uk/images/education/Introducing%20the%20Tree%20Bumblebee.pdf

 

Roger

 

RogerP

West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire

No county (Lincolnshire) has better churches and worse houses. The poorer sort of people wash their clothes with hog's dung, and burn dried cow's dung for want of better fuel; whence comes the Lincolnshire proverb: "Where the hogs shite soap and the cows shite fire".

Curiosities of Great Britain (c.1780)

Offline Caz  
#272 Posted : 10 June 2019 09:22:03(UTC)
Caz

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Joined: 28/10/2008(UTC)
Posts: 17,783
Woman
Location: Market Warsop, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands

Originally Posted by: Roger Parsons Go to Quoted Post

Hi Caz. The species you describe is unlikely to cause any issues - the new queens will disperse at the end of their reproductive season, and the workers will die out. They are unlikely to reoccupy the nest(s) for some years, for reasons you will understand.

The Species to be alert for is the new incomer, Bombus hypnorum, which I characterise as a black bee with a white tail and ginger rucksack. If you ever get those refer to this excellent pdf.

https://scottishbeekeepers.org.uk/images/education/Introducing%20the%20Tree%20Bumblebee.pdf

 

Roger

Oh!  I was wrong!  I’ve found several of the bees dead on our drive under the front entrance they’re using and have taken a photo of one.  They have white bums and a ginger rucksack. They are the ones you describe, Bombus Hypnorum.  I’ve read the PDF you linked to and it seems the same applies, they will leave of their own accord.  

I thought it odd that we should get two nests when we’ve never had them before, or at least we’ve never been aware of them.  I suppose the fact they’re a new species to the UK explains that.  They’ll no doubt nest in places that other species don’t occupy.

Market Warsop, North Nottinghamshire.

Join the fun of the monthly CET competition. Last chance to join in the yearly comp is 2nd March. Discuss monthly temperatures and records.

Offline Retron  
#273 Posted : 11 June 2019 14:12:58(UTC)
Retron

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Joined: 05/04/2006(UTC)
Posts: 23,707
Location: Leysdown-on-Sea

Having burned a day's annual leave for an Opeanreach engineer who now isn't coming until Monday, I was at least able to go and mow the lawn. Why mention this in an insect thread? Well, my earlier post mentioned the loss of gardens down my road, or rather their replacement with sterile lawns, no shrubs and no trees! Here's what mine looks like, which is a (much messier) version of what they all once looked like in the 1980s.

Incidentally that rather over-enthusiastic shrub on the far right has flowers that stink - I don't know what it is, but my mum certainly didn't choose it for its beautiful smell! Whatever it is, it was swarming with hundreds of small flies. The fuschia on the left must have had half a dozen bumble bees buzzing around, while for whatever reason there were several small moths and hoverflies arond the elder (by the gate).

Within a week the lawn will be covered with daisies again. My colleagues at work are aghast that I don't apply chemicals to zap them, but why would I? I like the way they look and the insects seem to benefit from them too.

At least whatever happens elsewhere, my garden - and that of my neighbour, to the left - are havens for insect life. FWIW, most of the neighbours' gardens, aside from my elderly neighbour to the left, start roughly where that conifer is on the right. It's a heck of a lot of lost lawn and garden space.

(Click for a larger view).

(Back in the day, there would have been borders packed with bedding plants too, but now I'm on my own I realise just how much time my mum and dad spent out there. One day, hopefully within a decade or so, I'll be able to spend just as much time looking after it all!)

 

Edited by user 11 June 2019 14:17:31(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

Offline Roger Parsons  
#274 Posted : 11 June 2019 16:19:35(UTC)
Roger Parsons

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Location: Lincolnshire

Great post, Retron - thank you for that.


I put a report of a Vagrant Emperor dragonfly in the Insect Experts thread rather than this one.
This weird weather may bring more in so if you see a dragonfly you can't identify - try to get a photo and report it to the BDS.

They can turn up anywhere.
Roger

RogerP

West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire

No county (Lincolnshire) has better churches and worse houses. The poorer sort of people wash their clothes with hog's dung, and burn dried cow's dung for want of better fuel; whence comes the Lincolnshire proverb: "Where the hogs shite soap and the cows shite fire".

Curiosities of Great Britain (c.1780)

Offline Northern Sky  
#275 Posted : 11 June 2019 16:52:07(UTC)
Northern Sky

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Joined: 16/08/2010(UTC)
Posts: 3,613
Location: Leeds W Yorks

Yes interesting reads Retron.

Btw can anyone tell me how to post a picture? I took a lovely pic of a Mint Moth when it returned to the garden the other day but I've tried all sorts and I can't seem to upload it?

Offline Retron  
#276 Posted : 11 June 2019 17:11:16(UTC)
Retron

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 05/04/2006(UTC)
Posts: 23,707
Location: Leysdown-on-Sea

Originally Posted by: Northern Sky Go to Quoted Post

Btw can anyone tell me how to post a picture? I took a lovely pic of a Mint Moth when it returned to the garden the other day but I've tried all sorts and I can't seem to upload it?

The way I post mine is to go to http://tinypic.com/index.php , then upload a picture. It'll show you the picture afterwards. Click "view full-size image", then click your image again - it'll open in a sort of pop-up, with a link saying "view raw image". Click that and it'll open the picture directly. You can then copy the URL and paste it into the "insert picture" dialog box on this site.

It's a bit of a faff, but it's free and doesn't require making an account or fiddling with sharing settings. Other services are available!

Roger's post about dragonflies is an interesting one. I've seen lots of damselflies around the ponds and stream at the wolf centre, but I've never seen any in my back garden. Although you can't see it from the photo I posted, there's a pond lurking behind that bush on the left. It had filled up with weeds, but having cleared the majority of those that there's now some murky-looking water open to the elements. It remains to be seen whether it attracts any insects, but I'm hopeful it will in due course.

Incidentally mine is the only garden left in my street with a pond and it seems unusual enough that my friends have all commented when they saw it - as if they'd never seen one before in a garden! There used to be quite a few along my road, but people seemed to deem them "space wasters" and filled them in, or they were removed when plots were redeveloped. I guess that's another piece of the biodiversity jigsaw!

Offline Caz  
#277 Posted : 11 June 2019 17:43:04(UTC)
Caz

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Joined: 28/10/2008(UTC)
Posts: 17,783
Woman
Location: Market Warsop, Nottinghamshire, East Midlands

Originally Posted by: Roger Parsons Go to Quoted Post

 

Hi Caz. The species you describe is unlikely to cause any issues - the new queens will disperse at the end of their reproductive season, and the workers will die out. They are unlikely to reoccupy the nest(s) for some years, for reasons you will understand.

The Species to be alert for is the new incomer, Bombus hypnorum, which I characterise as a black bee with a white tail and ginger rucksack. If you ever get those refer to this excellent pdf.

https://scottishbeekeepers.org.uk/images/education/Introducing%20the%20Tree%20Bumblebee.pdf

 

Roger

 

Roger, I emailed Clive, the author of the article you linked to and he responded today.

Dear Carol,

Many thanks for your interesting email.  

I tend to get several emails a day about Tree Bumblebees at this time of year, so my knowledge of their interactions with people, houses etc and their occasional antics is increasing day by day and year by year.  

Lots of the colonies are in house roofs, using the loft insulation to keep the colony warm.  (Active bumblebees are warm blooded at around 30C and the 'brood nest' where they rear new bees is maintained at about this temperature.)  With colonies in Bird Boxes, the old bird nest is used to keep the developing nest snug.

This year I've received several emails from people who have contacted me to say their TBB colony has occupied a nest-box which had previously been used this species, but which had not been cleaned out afterwards  So I'm going to have to adjust the website article to fit this new fact.  Such evidence is always welcome !

Thank you also for your good opinion of my article on the BBCT website.  We know it gets thousands of 'hits' per year and it seems to be helpful to people.  I get quite a lot of extra information from the queries which reach me and this allows the website material to be updated and so become more useful.

By no means all Beekeepers want to get involved with issues caused by the Tree bumblebee, so your beekeping friend is unusual in knowing where to find information about them.  To my knowledge there isn't much about them in book form.  I've been asked to write one, but so far everyday life keeps getting in the way !

I hope you will enjoy your "bee tenants".

My experience is that colonies do vary in how strong (populous) they become and we know that in other species some colonies go on to produce only new males, others new queens and some produce both.  It's a guess, but this might go some way to explaining the varying apparent activity at the colony's flight point.

The "nest surveillance" activity which you’ll see the male bees doing is, to me at least, a real spectacle of nature ! 

A year or five back I was contacted by a householder in Sussex, who thought that he had eight colonies in his property.  Sso I guess it must have been a large house with some outbuildings.  As a consequence your 'two colonies' isn't the top score that I've heard of, but I'm still a bit jealous because I've not got a colony in my roof this year !  

Some people who have colonies in their lofts do get bothered by the sounds coming from the colony and sometimes these sounds have been blamed for keeping children awake at night.  Occasionally people also complain about  odours coming from a colony.  So, if either of there factors affect you, I'd welcome any extra feedback you can give.  I'd also welcome sound recordings of the noises the colonies make.

I'm guessing, but your Tree Bumblebee colony might have awoken an interest in bumblebees.  If so, do sign up for the Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s free E-Newsletter, which will give you useful background information about bumblebees.  It can be accessed via their website.  

If, like me, you find you’ve become fascinated by bumblebees, you might like to consider joining BBCT.

I have copied this email to Darryl Cox at BBCT so he can make sure our emails about your colony are recorded there.  It would be helpful if you could email Darryl a rough geographical location for the colony, such as a Post Code.  The information can then be used to update distribution data on this species.  

Best wishes,             Clive Hill

PS.  

I see you're a 'Hill' too - beware, you might catch 'Bumblebee Fever' from me if it is in the Hill genetics.  My lot originated in Lincolnshire in te late 1800s.

 

 

Market Warsop, North Nottinghamshire.

Join the fun of the monthly CET competition. Last chance to join in the yearly comp is 2nd March. Discuss monthly temperatures and records.

Offline Roger Parsons  
#278 Posted : 11 June 2019 17:59:24(UTC)
Roger Parsons

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Joined: 23/11/2008(UTC)
Posts: 779
Man
Location: Lincolnshire

That's a nice response, Caz. I do enjoy enthusiasts!
I had a note from a relation in Yorkshire asking about bees in his roof, and they proved to be Tree Bumbles too.
A friend here had them in her roof last year and had to move bedrooms as the grubs made such a racket!
We are so used to honeybees that we tend to think of colonies surviving through the winter, but not all bees work this way.
Bumblebee queens tend to hibernate and emerge in spring to found new colonies. Workers and drones die off.

Sex is different for bees! Come spring an emerging queen bumblebee can lay fertilised [diploid] eggs which become females; workers or queens and unfertilised [haploid] eggs which become males [or drones.] It is not necessary for old drones to survive the winter, as new males can be raised in the spring when needed to mate with the new virgin queens.

Unwanted drones die off at the beginning of autumn as they are unwanted mouths to feed. I have often spotted dead drones below hive entrances that had been kicked out to die. For some reason this fact often makes women laugh - but I am never quite sure why!!!

Roger

Edited by user 11 June 2019 18:02:22(UTC)  | Reason: + smiley

RogerP

West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire

No county (Lincolnshire) has better churches and worse houses. The poorer sort of people wash their clothes with hog's dung, and burn dried cow's dung for want of better fuel; whence comes the Lincolnshire proverb: "Where the hogs shite soap and the cows shite fire".

Curiosities of Great Britain (c.1780)

Offline Northern Sky  
#279 Posted : 11 June 2019 17:59:26(UTC)
Northern Sky

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 16/08/2010(UTC)
Posts: 3,613
Location: Leeds W Yorks

Thanks Retron 

Offline DEW  
#280 Posted : 12 June 2019 06:24:04(UTC)
DEW

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Joined: 05/04/2006(UTC)
Posts: 11,691
Man
Location: Chichester 12m. asl

Originally Posted by: Retron Go to Quoted Post

 

Within a week the lawn will be covered with daisies again. My colleagues at work are aghast that I don't apply chemicals to zap them, but why would I? I like the way they look and the insects seem to benefit from them too

 

A friend of mine has a story (true, I think, not apocryphal) of a sheikh who bought a property in the UK and arranging for a lawn to be laid - which in due course it was, a perfect even green. But when he saw it, he was really unhappy and wanted to know where all the little white flowers were that he had been expecting to beautify the lawn!

It was most foule weather ... and so we went into an alehouse - Samuel Pepys
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