Bees · Extinction · Facts · Flowers · Population

“The London Pollinator Project”

Happened to be flicking through a magazine (Gardener’s World) in a waiting room when I came across this website: http://www.savelondonbees.co.uk. It is packed full of useful info so I thought I’d go through it.

 

Help pollinators in your green space:

  1. Use Native Plants
  2. Build a Bee Condo
  3. Mow your grass less often
  4. Don’t use pesticides
  5. Plant flowers in clumps
  6. Make a mini wildflower meadow
  7. Make a pond or a watering hole
  8. Create a deadwood pile

Plant bee-friendly flowers:

  1. Plant a variety throughout the year
  2. Plant singular flowers; most hybrid and double flowers are little use to bees
  3. Plant more purple flowers; bees have a natural preference to this colour
  4. Plant tubular shaped flowers (foxgloves, honeysuckle, penstemons, snapdragons). Easy acesss for bees
  5. Spring Examples: Bluebells, Bugles, Crab apple, daffodil, flowering cherry, forget-me-nots, hawthorn, rhododendrons, rosemary, viburnum
  6. Summer Examples: Aquilegia, Astible, Campanula, Comfrey, Delphinium, Sweet Pea, Fennel, Foxgloves, Geraniums, Snapdragons, Thyme
  7. Autumn Examples: Angelica, Asters, Buddleia, Cardoon, Cornflowers, Dahlias, Fuchsia, Globe Thistle, Heather, Lavender, Penstemon, Verbena.

Bee-friendly flower resources:

  1. http://www.rosybee.com
  2. http://www.beehappyplants.co.uk
  3. beekind.bumblebeeconservation.org
  4. http://www.lbka.org
  5. http://www.plantlife.org
  6. buzzaboutbees.net
  7. urbanbees.co.uk
  8. bbka.org.uk
  9. buglife.org.uk
  10. bumblebeeconservation.org

These simple practices will help pollinators dramatically:

  1. Let it grow: cut back less often and allow plants to flower. Let a section of your garden grow wild and do what it wants
  2. Do not disturb; Leave hibernating insects and nests alone and give them places to do so.
  3. Do not use, or try to use very little, pesticides: only use if absolutely necessary as they kill off bees

Why Bees matter:

  1. These pollinators are responsible for most of our food resources.
  2. It is estimated they contribute to over £400million per year to the UK economy and £14.2billion per year to the EU economy alone.
  3. Without them, hand pollination would be required, significantly increasing the costs of fruit and vegetables.
  4. There would also be a significant decrease in wild flowers and plants.

Why are bees in decline:

  1. Change in countryside; gone from colourful wildflowers to crops and livestock.
  2. The past abundance of wildflowers supported a greater diversity of wildlife
  3. Huge increases in human populations demand a huge increase in food productions, resulting in a huge loss in wild flowers. It is estimated that 97% of our flower rich grassland has been lost since the 1930s.
  4. Decline in flowers means dramatic decline in bees; 2 species of bumblebee in the UK have already become extinct and 2 others are endangered. The same goes for outside the UK.
  5. Further info on sos-bees.org, http://www.rhs.org.uk and TEDtalks on Bee Decline

This is all useful information that shows me what is already in place to help bees in London; I need to look around more websites to see what is being done elsewhere. I could also network with these charities and projects to see if a potential collaboration or something could happen. As mentioned before, I’d love to produce these books on behalf of someone.

SOURCES:
savelondonbees.co.uk

Bees · Facts · Wax

65 Uses for Beeswax

What do we actually use this for??

  1. Furniture polish
  2. Making Candles
  3. Making Crayons
  4. Herbal Salves
  5. Preventing rust
  6. Cheese waxing
  7. Waxed Thread
  8. Lubricants
  9. Envelope seals
  10. Waterproofing shoes and boots
  11. Shoe Polish
  12. Wax for hair
  13. Greasing for tins (baking)
  14. Making some foods
  15. Reusable food wraps (cotton cloth covered in beeswax) – alternative to plastic wraps
  16. Modelling clay
  17. Corrosion prevention
  18. Oiling joints
  19. Barbecuing
  20. Plucking poultry
  21. Body butters
  22. Deodorants
  23. Lip balms
  24. Gummy bears and jelly sweets
  25. Rash cream
  26. Baby lotion
  27. Moisturizers
  28. Makeup products
  29. Anti-itch solutions
  30. Pain reliefs
  31. Natural Chewing Gum alternatives
  32. Sewing thread
  33. Clean your iron
  34. Facial hair wax
  35. Massage bars
  36. Wood conditioners
  37. Nails coatings (prevents wood splitting)
  38. Used by NASA in oil spills
  39. Coats reeds on woodwind instruments
  40. Batik Printing (fabric dyeing)
  41. Soaps
  42. Natural Hair Removers
  43. Reduces bow string friction
  44. used in bullets
  45. Jewelery
  46. Glass Etching
  47. Makes earplugs
  48. Dental floss
  49. Chocolate making
  50. Blacksmithing
  51. Used in pharmaceuticals
  52. Manufacturing of CDs
  53. To lower cholesterol
  54. Treating ulcers
  55. Treating diarrhea
  56. Treating hiccups
  57. Fragrances/perfumes
  58. surgical bone wax
  59. adhesives
  60. Embalming processes
  61. Fruit and veg glazing
  62. Snow skies and boards
  63. Broken brace coverings
  64. Temporary teeth fillings
  65. Unsticking drawers, doors, windows, etc

 

Sources used in this blog post:
-Bradley, K. (2015) 10 uses for your home-grown beeswax. Available at: https://www.milkwood.net/2015/07/23/10-uses-for-your-home-grown-beeswax/ (Accessed: 13 January 2017).
-Jillee (2013) Projects. Available at: http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2013/12/21-brilliant-benefits-of-beeswax.html (Accessed: 13 January 2017).
Berenguer, L. and Ritz, J. (2015) My essential oil recipes. Available at: http://thepaleomama.com/2015/11/25-ways-to-use-beeswax/ (Accessed: 13 January 2017).
-Loriel (2013) 17 cool and unusual uses for beeswax. Available at: http://www.naturallyloriel.com/17-cool-and-unusual-uses-for-beeswax/ (Accessed: 13 January 2017)
-Matter of Trust, Inc. (1998) 101 uses for beeswax – matter of trust. Available at: http://matteroftrust.org/5044/101-uses-for-beeswax (Accessed: 13 January 2017).

Anatomy · Bees · Facts · Flowers

General info on Bees

Classification:
Kingdom: Animalia
Subkingdom: Bilateria
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera (bees, ants, and wasps)
Suborder: Apocrita

Geographical location: Every continent except Antarctica

Over 10,000 species of bee exist and are classified into two groups: Social Bees (Honeybees for example) live in groups of over ten thousand, and Solitary Bees (Carpenter and Leaf-cutter Bees for example) live in smaller groups. Wild bees live in trees, bushes and in the ground where they build hives out of beeswax, leaves, wood or clay.

Given that there are over 10,000 species of bee, I need to eventually narrow down to a handful of species or just the one, probably the Honeybee.

Honeybees are the best known specie and were imported to the US during European colonisation. They produce beeswax hives, each holding over 10,000 bees. Carpenter Bees tunnel into wood, such as trees or even fence posts and have colonies that contain about 100 bees. Leaf-cutter Bees tunnel in wood and build from leaf bits joined by secreted glue. Miner Bees live in sandy tunnels in groups of several thousands.

Bees are 0.1 – 3 inches long and there are 3 types of Honeybee: workers, drones and queens. 95% of the bees in a hive are immature female workers, 5% are male drones and there is only 1 queen.

Worker Bee’s main body parts are the head, thorax and abdomen. The head has 5 eyes, 2 antennae and a mouth. 3 small eyes sit on top of the head arranged in a triangle and 2 compound eyes, which contain many six-sided facets, sit at the front of the head. This arrangement gives the bees keen eyesight. The antennae are the smell organs and protrude from the head. They are used to find food and to recognise bees that do not belong in their hive. The mouth consists of the tongue and jaws. The tongue is a long and slender lower lip and is rolled in a tube used to sip nectar from flowers. The scissor-shaped jaws cut and shape things or are used to bite defensively.

The thorax holds the wings and legs. The four wings beat over 10,000 times a minute and the front wings are hooked onto the back wings to work as synchronised propellers. This wing speed and synchronisation allows bees to fly precisely and carry more than their body weight in food. They have three legs on each side of the thorax which end in claws and sticky pads that allow bees to attach to flowers and walk upside down. Their legs and bodies are covered in fine hair that allow pollen to become attached to them, which is then transferred along their bodies using leg combs into pollen baskets on their hind legs.

The abdomen contains the most organs. Beeswax is made in the abdomen and collects on abdomen wax plates harvested by mouth and is used to build hives. At the rear of the abdomen is a stinger; it is 30% of the length of the bee’s body. In worker bees the stinger is barbed so that it will remain in the animal it stings. This is fatal to bees as most of it’s abdomen is ripped away when it frees itself from its victim. Queens have barb-less stingers and “stingless” bees and drones lack functional stingers.

Bees pollinate most flowering plants and thousands of plant species could not survive without them. In addition, the bee industry earns $60,000,000 a year through honey and beeswax. Even the beestings have their uses: it is believed that they can cure arthritis and rheumatism.

Sources used in this blog post:
Singer, S.S. (2016) ‘Bees’, Salem Press Encyclopedia of Science

Bees · Facts · Hormones · Larvae · Life Cycle · Metamorphosis

“Genes involved in thoracic exoskeleton formation during the pupal-to-adult molt” Journal Article extracts

I’m reading this article and picking out key bits of info I think may be useful and relevant to my project:

  • Insect development occurs through a series of exoskeleton (cuticle) renewals, or molts
  • Molt succession includes apolysis (the separation of the cuticle from the epidermis), synthesis of a new cuticle and ecdysis (the shedd
  • instar, or stage). After four molting episodes, the honeybee larva reaches the fifth larval instar without phenotypic changes, except for a considerable increase in size
  • A genuine honeybee pupa exists for a relatively short period, lasting approximately 40 h from pupal ecdysis
  • During the next 160 h, the bee is a pharate-adult, meaning that it is producing the adult cuticle underneath the pupal cuticle
  • Development toward the adult stage involves the reconstruction and maturation of the definitive cuticular exoskeleton, formation of internal tissues and organs, and programmed cell death of many larval tissues
  • The larval thoracic muscles are entirely disintegrated during the honeybee metamorphic molt, and are replaced by imaginal muscles originating from myoblast precursors, which elongate, join, and form the striated muscle fibers
  • untitled

Sources used in this blog post:
Prioli, M. and Soares, M. (2013) Genes involved in thoracic exoskeleton formation during the pupal-to-adult molt in a social insect model, Apis mellifera, BMC Genomics, 14(1), pp. 1–17.