|A favourite tiny plant pot|
from The Cliff House, San Francisco
|A honeybee on an old teapot |
I bought at The Emporium, Hungerford
The Oxford Dictionary of Myth and Folklore has this to say about it:
"In medieval, Elizabethan, and Stuart times, Bees were regarded as mysterious, intelligent, and holy; their wax was used in church candles, honey was a biblical image for God's grace and the joys of heaven, poets praised the hive as a model for the perfect society, grouped around its ‘king’ (it was only in the 1740s that English naturalists admitted the large bee was female). Something of this awe remains in a nursery riddle from the 16th century, with the answer ‘a bee’:
Little bird of Paradise,
She works her work both neat and nice;
She pleases God, she pleases man,
She does the work that no man can.
(Opie and Opie, 1951: 82-3)
Folk tradition about bees stresses how easily they might take offence, in which case they would cease to give honey, desert their hives, or die. They had to be treated as members of the household; in particular, they must be told about deaths, births, and marriages in the family, their hives must be appropriately adorned, and they must be given their share of the festive or funereal food. They would then hum, to show they consented to remain."
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/bee#ixzz2ZgkAY4eZ
|One of the Palmate Newts in the pond|
like tiny Dragons!
With summer in full bloom there has not been much time to continue the quest to find, rescue and re-invent vintage items. We are too busy being in awe of nature and all it offers. The wildlife pond continues to attract new inhabitants even though it is very small. In the current heat wave it seems very welcome with the local birds, bees and beasties.
|Tiny striped Spiderlings begin to disperse from their egg ball.|
They will soon sail off on the wind.
|This photo taken in too bright sunlight |
does not do this handsome guy justice.
These pretty green flies appeared en masse. They have very bright luminous eyes and body parts and the wing tips of the males are prettily marked. They are called long-legged flies, Poecilobothrus nobilitatus. I found this out from one of my favourite blogs, called 'Bug Blog'. It is written by Africa Gomez, a biologist interested in Evolution, Behaviour and Ecology based in Hull, England. I love her insights and how she has not lost the wonder with which a child views Nature. Have a look.
Find her Bug Blog here:
Long legged flies need a pond to mate. Like most people we tend not to be very fond of flies, but they are brilliant pollinators and unlike common flies these guys do not bother with food, they like nectar instead. Africa starts her post about them by calling them, 'flies dancing on water' and I like that. Nature does dance - we just need to open our eyes and hearts to it and we should dance to the seasons too.
Read more about these bright green flies here on Bug Blog Bright Green Dancing Flies
|The pond spider and his web lie in wait like something out of Alien.|
When they came we saw that a predator followed closely behind. We do not know what this spider is called but he is pretty impressive. He made his web across the lily pad and underneath it and could stay in the water for awhile. After a few days he disappeared as mysteriously as he had come.
|The dancing Tree Bumblebees|
The most exciting visitors were the new Bees which took up residence under the clay roof tiles of the old bakehouse in our garden. Our Victorian cottages were built in 1870 in Arts and Crafts style by a benevolent benefactor who gave them to the estate workers. Now enclosed by fences and hedges it was once an open plan community of six who shared a 13th century church, church school, a well, outhouses and washing facilities for clothes and themselves and a bakehouse. The bakehouse and the cottages were roofed in hand made red clay tiles and I love the way the roofs have a higgedy-piggedy look.
|The courtyard of Victorian cottages and their outbuildings of flint and red brick with red tiled roof|
The Bees first appeared while we were building the pond but at that point we did not think about them. We have a lot of solitary Bees who we know gather leaves and mud to make their little nests in holes in walls. The Bees were very interested in the old mud we took out of the bottom of the pond. They like mud with a high nutrient content because they put this in the nest to feed the young. They were non aggressive Bees and they often buzzed around us while we worked on the pond. We kept the old mud wet for them so they could take what they wanted. After a few days they stopped coming to the pond for the mud.
|A Tree Bumblee resting.|
Note the bites taken out of this plant from our solitary Bees
who use it to close their nests.
We began to put the story together when we noticed new Bees one morning who exhibited a habit we had not seen before. They were in a small group and were very small themselves but looked to us like Bumblebees. They were very furry and a bright orange colour. They had a non menacing 'buzz' and sounded happy. They were also doing a little dance above the roof, which was quite delightful. We loved them at once. Remembering what my Father taught me about Telling the Bees we told them they were welcome and asked them what they were but they took no notice of us so we resorted to the trusty internet. We found that they were Tree Bumblebees. This species is European but has over the past few years begun to spread across Britain. They look very different to other Bumblebees, if you look closely.
|A Buff-Tailed Bumblebee on our Clematis|
|A Tree Bumblebee on our Clematis|
They usually nest in trees, hence the name, but they also like roof spaces. They are particular about where they nest though and chose the sights carefully. We can only surmise that they chose us because they liked the area, the wildflowers, Bee and Butterfly friendly plants and the perfect roof space where they get morning sun and afternoon shade. They have also nested on our next door neighbours roof and they buzz around all of our plants all day.
|A Tree Bumblebee hurries off into the nest|
Apparently the Tree Bumblebee commune has different kinds of Bees in it, the Queen is about the size of a normal Bumblebee, the workers who dance around her nest are doing so to protect her and to impress her in case they get a chance to mate with her when she emerges. It is believed that they are not able to sting. Inside the nest are slightly larger drone Bees who can sting, if you disturb the nest. The community does not get very large having only a hundred or two at most. Ours are very small, perhaps 40 Bees and dwindling all the time. The Bees are so active that they appear to wear themselves out and we have found several dead. By September they all die except the new Queen who will leave the nest and go to ground to hibernate. She will emerge next Spring and find a new nest, although sometimes they return to an old one. We now have another small nest on the other side of the bakehouse roof as a second Queen emerged from the nest.
They have been delightful companions in our garden and we hope that they continue to grace it with their presence.
No matter where you live, however small you can help nature and it will reward you. I am always shocked by how little some people care for nature, not realizing that we are only a very small part of it and without the other parts we would cease to exist. I am also grateful and inspired by those who remember Nature. This garden is at the back of a rented flat in a busy high street. How lovely that it is and on the day I visited the song of Birds and the sound of Bees was wonderful.
Thomson's Delicatessen and Winebar in Pewsey, Wiltshire is a delight. The building is very old and it's topsy-turvy windows and thatched roof are so charming that many tourists take photos of it. It has delicious things to eat and drink too. It lies in the High Street just in front of a roundabout on which a statue of King Alfred The Great was placed. It is a place of ancient history and great beauty. Well done to them to plant their boxes and not to forget the Bees and Butterflies.
Mrs Black is loving the weather and forgetting her house and shoppe keeping tasks. The sun is soothing on her old bones and arthritis. We hope that all of you are enjoying summer wherever that you are.