This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Bee Buzzing Summer

Bees and insects are enjoying the garden just as much as we are this time of year! I was at a four-hour bumblebee identification course over the weekend,  which was quite interesting and I was able to get a few photos. I still can't identify bumblebees, but maybe with a bit more practice I'll get better! So I thought I'd share some bee-tastic photos and a few interesting facts from the course...
Only female bumblebees can sting.
More than 1/2 of bee species in Ireland have declined in numbers and 
1/3 are threatened with distinction.
Pollen is stuck to the back leg to carry back to the nest (pictured above). Flower: Snapdragon.
I've leeks flowering in the garden - the insects and bees love them. 
Bumblebees put a chemical marking on flowers to tell other bees the pollen is depleted so they don't waste their time.
Bumblebees are most attracted to the colours: blue-green, violet and ultraviolet.
I'm always trying to capture photos of things buzzing about the garden. This hoverfly looks just a pretty as a bumblebee and is an important pollinator.
Oops -  a wasp - I thought it was a good photo (even if they do ruin picnics and outings!).
One final interesting bit of information from the day - 
There are 100 crops that provide 90% of our food worldwide. 
71 of these 100 crops are bee pollinated.

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.


  1. Just like only female wasps sting - Isn't it a development of the egg laying tube which only the queen needs to lay eggs. Trouble is in wasps any you are likely to come across in summer are females as the males quickly die after mating.

    I heard as well that a flower with no pollen gives off a different electrical charge so bees leave it alone.

    Fascinating aren't they - but four solid hours?

  2. I never knew that only females sting. I used to hate bees and wasps alike after a bad reaction to a wasp sting but I've really taken time to not be scared of Bees and now I love them, in fact I chase them round the plants trying to get a good photo of them - which never works as well as it does for you lol.
    Wasps still make me run a mile though - I'm terrified of them but I saw something online that showed some types of Bee actually look like wasps.
    You are amazingly brave to get that close up image of the wasp - either that or nuts lol.

    Have to agree with Sue though, 4 solid hours?

  3. Well, as a professional trainer, I have to question why after four hours of training a delegate is STILL unable to identify Bumble Bees properly! :) Actually I know that we are all guilty of calling all bees other than honey bees "Bumble Bees". The true Bumble Bee is very big, isn't it? Lots of the "fluffy" bees that frequent our gardens are often mis-identified as Bumble Bees I know.

  4. Gorgeous photos.

  5. Sounds like a very interesting work shop and I am sure you covered many things besides identifying Bumble Bees. I would love to have gone to it! Your photos are is not easy to get good photos of those busy and useful creatures. I love to see bees enjoying my flowers because it would be awful if they became extinct! Thanks for the good information, Kelli

  6. Very interesting. Bees are the main reason that I don't use any chemicals in the garden. I am allergic to bee stings, but I value them. Let's home that science can discover the cause of honey bee hive collapse. Great photos.

  7. All the bees and bumblebees look the same to me..but I like them. They are more than welcome in my garden. The ones I hate are wasps and hornets. They are just evil little things just looking who to sting :)

  8. I recently learned that Colony collapse Disorder in bees is caused by fungicides that also contain a pesticide, since the fungus that causes disease are considered a pest. Fungicide contaminated pollen is being brought back to the hive and killing the bees. No chemicals are used in my garden, either. Pollinators are too important. Great pictures!