Bzzzz Feed #1: Honeybee

So apparently the alarm pheromone of a honeybee smells like bananas!

Despite it only being March my summer pass time of sneaking up on bees while they’re taking some ‘time out’ is in full swing. I’m guessing this doesn’t alarms them… I’ve certainly never smelt a banana like smell while doing it.

Essentially pheromones are chemicals released by bees, insects and some mammals to influence the behaviour of other members of their species…. curious. It’s not the only unusual way that bees communicate either… dance is also a part of how they signal things to other bees… apparently a waggle dance is used to communicate about suitable flower destinations sites

Where could you see a honeybee?

Literally anywhere… even central London has a huge number of rooftop bee keepers and so they’re common across the United Kingdom and beyond.

When might you see one?

Honeybees won’t fly when the weather is colder than 14 degrees centigrade (57 degrees fahrenheit). This means you may see one on a warm winter day though they’re most commonly from March to September.

Hairy-Footed Flower Bee

We’ll be honest we’ve had a busy 24 hours… so we’re all full of gratitude for a new bee hairy footing it into our corner of Norwich for us to try to identify!

So apparently there are around 270 spices of bee in Britain and this one is a new one on us! Our best guess is that it is a pale coloured Hairy-Footed Flower Bee… if it’s not then at least we enjoyed writing this great bee name and learning a little bit more about it.

So the Hairy-Footed Flower Bee is generally seen out and about in early spring in urban green spaces… so that fits. It also lives in quite big noisy colonies. They do have a habit of making a home in old brick work… which does apparently lead to them flying down chimneys on a regular basis and so they’re curious and brave little things.

Four Banded Flower Bee

So this little bee is an unusual one that we’ve never seen before… it’s a four banded flower bee, which apparently is rarely found outside Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and southern England. It moves really fast, hovers a lot and has quite distinctive grey eyes.

We’re big fans here at Bee Saviour Behaviour of never taking the same route home twice… though admittedly it’s actually quite difficult even on a long journey in a big city. However so often when we’ve taken a new route home we’ve discovered something new and exciting… this bee is a perfect example. A solitary wander down a different street led to a solitary perch on a wall and spotting this solitary bee.

Well we say solitary bee, there were several in the corner where we spotted them though they do live alone rather than in colonies… often in burrows in south facing slopes and sandy ground. Norwich is a little grey again today and so we’re hidden away working on reward prep.

Ivy Bees

Some bees are easy to spot, some bees are easy to photograph… some bees are not! Normally we wouldn’t be all that excited to share fleeting slow-motion videos of bees flying away… but ivy bees are different.

Ivy bees haven’t been in the UK for long and they’re so beautiful with their striking yellow stripes and amber fluffy bodies. They were first spotted in the UK back in 2001 down in Devon and since then they have slowly been slowly moving north and east. They appear when the ivy is in bloom (September and October) and we’d like to challenge you to spot one. In fact we’re curious to see how far north our community might be able to record a sighting of these little guys.

We are going to be sharing photos, videos and facts about ivy bees for the next couple of months to inspire you and if you get really keen we’ve started a project to track sightings on iNaturalist to see if we can understand a little more about these newbies… or should that be new-bees

Not Bees…

This is a ‘not bees’ post… now that we’ve reached autumn we’re gonna create a bunch of posts about books we’re reading. This is what the autumn and winter are for right… catching up on reading!

One thing that has been a big part of the past year has been research showing the scale of insect population decline. While loitering by bushes and shrubs to spot bees we see a lot of other insects… these are some of our favourite photos of hoverflies from the past few months, starting with a hornet mimic hoverfly.

Our first love is bees… but we’re also not so secretly obsessed with biodiversity too. Dave Goulson is a great example of a scientist with a passion for bees, biodiversity and inspiring folk with how easy it is to create change in your own neighbourhood without a whole lot of effort. His book The Garden Jungle is a great example of this. “Woodlice, earthworms, earwigs: a seething Serengeti lurks in many a back garden. Apiologist Dave Goulson’s wonderful book encourages such richness by delivering solid science on garden wilding… Goulson demonstrates that the domestic nature reserve is the first step towards saving the planet.” is how Nature described it