10 things you can do to help pollinators

 

1. Keep an eye out for Andrena fulva (Tawny mining bee)

Extinct for 87 years and rediscovered in two locations in 2012 and another two locations in 2013. Are there more undiscovered populations out there?

Andrena-fulva-now-extinct1-150x150 Tawny-Mining-Bee-in-her-Mine-150x150

 

 

 

 

 

Information:

  • Can you find any new populations of the bee that came back from extinction in 2012?
  • The Tawny mining bee (Andrena fulva) was last found by Arthur Stelfox in 1925 just outside Kilkenny.  Since then it was assumed to have gone extinct in Ireland.   However, in April 2012 Roger Goodwillie re-found the bee in his garden in Kilkenny, not far from where it was last sighted.  That same year Sam Connolly reported that he also had a healthy population of the bee in his garden in Co. Wicklow. In 2013 another two new populations were reported from Bennettsbridge, Kilkenny and from Dublin City.
  • It it possible that it will be spotted with more frequency in the future as it is common in England and Wales, where it occurs in parks and gardens.
  • Andrena fulva is a beautiful and very distinctive solitary bee. Females have bright red hairs on the thorax and abdomen.
  • Medium-large sized solitary species (12-14mm).
  • It is a spring species (April – June).
  • It nests in the ground.  The nest entrances will be surrounded by a volcano-like mound of excavated spoil.
  • If you think you’ve spotted this species please send a photograph for validation.
  • BWARS information on Andrena fulva

 

2. Have you seen this bee – Anthophora plumipes (Hairy-footed flower-bee)?

We’ve had a few unconfirmed sightings of this species in recent years. Can you make the first confirmed Irish record?

Anthophora_plumipes-150x150

 

Information:

  • Has not been recorded from Ireland to date – can you be the first to find it here?
  • There have been two strong but unconfirmed sightings of Anthophora plumipes in Ireland within the past few years.
  • Found in a wide range of habitats.  Common in private gardens in southern England. More likely to be spotted in the south or south-east of Ireland.
  • The male has extensive yellow markings on its face and a very long fringe of hairs along the lower half of it’s middle leg.  The female is all black with orange hairs on the hind leg.
  • In Britain it is found from early March to late May.
  • Often nests in soft mortar joints in walls or in south facing coastal cliffs.  Can occur in aggregations of hundreds.
  • Will visit a range of flowers but particularly likes plants in the mint family (Lamiaceae).
  • It will be necessary to submit a specimen with the first Irish record.
  • BWARS information on Anthophora plumipes

 

3. Be the first to spot Bombus hypnorum (Tree bumblebee) in Ireland

Our next bumblebee arrival. Eyes peeled as this one is imminent!

Bombus-hypnorum-150x150

 

Information:

  • Has not been recorded from Ireland to date -can you be the first to find it here?
  • The tree bumblebee was recorded for the first time in Britain in 2001 and has rapidly spread, reaching the Welsh coast in 2012.  There is no reason why it wouldn’t occur in Ireland and it is expected that it will turn up once sufficient numbers have built up, probably in Wales. It’s most likely to be first spotted in eastern Ireland.
  • The tree bumblebee has a very distinctive colour pattern making it easy to identify.  It has a uniform brown/ginger thorax with a white tail.
  • It nests in aerial cavities – holes in trees or old birds nests. In Britian has been taking advantage of bird nest boxes in gardens.
  • It has larger colonies than most bumblebee species.
  • It will be necessary to submit a specimen with the first Irish record.
  • BWARS information on Bombus hypnorum

 

4. Visitor or resident? Episyrphus balteatus (Marmalade hoverfly)

Common Irish hoverfly whose numbers are thought to be boosted by migrant individuals each year. Help us understand what exactly is happening in Ireland.

Episyrphus-balteatus

 

 

 

 

 

Information:

  • A good hoverfly for beginners to look out for as there are no other species in Ireland with that banding pattern.
  • Very common across Ireland – highly migratory, can be found as an adult where it can’t live.
  • Look for this species from March onwards (adults hibernate). It would be very interesting to find out where it is recorded early in the year (resident population) and later in the year (numbers boosted by migrants). Help us research what exactly its doing in Ireland.
  • The larvae are aphid predators and have been shown to be important biological control agents of aphids on cereal crops
  • See full species account
  • If you have a photograph for identification or validation you can email it to me: Úna
  • Submit hoverfly records online

 

5. Add at least one bee friendly plant to your garden

How does your garden score in the ‘Bee kind’ stakes?

 

Grow-bee-friendly-plants-in-your-garden-150x150Information:

  • Can be something as simple as leaving areas of your lawn uncut to allow clover to flower.
  • The Bumblebee Conservation Trust in the UK have a great tool to work out how bee friendly your garden is. Take the test and get some ideas of what to plant to improve your score: Bee Kind

 

6. Consider putting up a trap nest

Provide some accommodation by creating a “bee & bee” 

Solitary-bee-homes-L.Weekes-150x150

 

 

 

 

 

Information:

  • Trap nests, or insect ‘hotels’, are an excellent way to support trap nesting bees and wasps by providing a safe, dry, 5-star accommodation
  • They can be as simple or as complicated as you like
  • Once established, they are both a source of pollinators and pest controllers for your garden, but also an ideal method of monitoring these insects!
  • More information: http://www.inspirationgreen.com/insect-habitats.html,boarding for bees

 

7. Take part in the Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme

Bombus-jonellus-male-150x150

 

 

 

 

 

Information:

  • Walk a 1-2km fixed route once a month from March to October and record the bumblebees that you observe
  • More volunteers are needed!
  • More information

 

8. Submit your first sighing of each bumblebee species

Help us understand how bumblebees are responding to weather patterns and changing climates

Bumblebees2-150x150

 

 

 

 

 

Information:

  • It is particularly useful if you submit your first casual sightings of the different species each year, as it helps us understand how they are responding to both weather and climate patterns.
  • You might even get into the ‘bumblebee hall of fame’ by breaking an Irish record! See the earliest ever recorded dates of the different species.
  • If you see them as part of your monitoring scheme walk you don’t also need to submit it as a casual sighting.
  • Don’t stop once you’ve seen your first sighting of each species – regardless of how common the species is, all casual records from different locations are very valuable. Submit bumblebee records here.

 

9. Getting the hang of bumblebees? Why not have a look at our guide to the 10 Irish hoverflies that mimic bumblebee species?

You’ll be amazed at how good some of these hoverflies are at mimicking bumblebees!

Volucella-bombylans1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information:

  • There are 10 Irish hoverflies that mimic bumblebees. Some are such good mimics they are hard to tell from bumblebees, others make a more half-hearted attempt
  • A pdf guide to these species is available under ID guides
  • Remember that hoverflies have one pair or wings, whereas bees have two
  • Maybe very obvious – but don’t forget that bees don’t hover
  • If you have a photograph for identification or validation you can email it to me: Úna
  • Don’t get distracted and stop submitting bumblebee data though!
  • Submit hoverfly records online here

 

10. Keep an eye out for two distinctive solitary bee species

Solitary bees can be difficult to identify. These two are very distinctive  and a good introduction to the group – one flies in spring and one in late summer

Andrena-cineraria-150x150 Colletes-succinctus-Gurteenbog22and23rdaug2013_Aine-Fenner-150x150

 

 

 

 

 

Information:

  • Andrena cineraria (left). Flies from March-June. Black bee, with grey bands on the thorax. Often forages on Willow.
  • Colletes succinctus (right). Flies from June-Sept. Bog/Heath species. Ginger thorax & distinctive white hair bands on the abdomen.
  • Full details on these and on other solitary bees that can be identified in the field can be found here
  • If you have a photograph for identification or validation you can email it to me:Úna
  • Submit solitary bee records online here