Bees (declining numbers?)

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Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby lilly60 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 3:23 pm

I raised the subject of bees in a post under the subject of Tomato Wilt re: that I had noticed not as many bees in the garden this year, despite having numerous plants in flower. Thought forum members might be interested in a garden magazine article I have just read re: decline in honeybee populations. So, everyone, its not our imaginations - it really is happening :( Apparently its not known for certain what's causing this, whether its chemicals, parasitic mites and competition with other non-native bees (though chemicals are a strong contender). There was also something interesting pointed out in this article that the bees are also losing their habitat in not only our gardens but also in the surrounding areas (hollow logs, stems of plants), and that we can help by building little bee friendly structures to attract and support native bees in our own yards, including something as simple as not mulching every square inch of bare ground and to leave some ground bare so that some (of the native species) have somewhere to make their tunnels in. The article mainly focused on native bees. Not sure if I can mention the name of the mag. here. Perhaps if anyone is interested in reading the whole article - part of which has been written by Martyn Robinson who is a naturalist at the Aus. Museum in Sydney you could PM me for more info....
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby tam » Sun Jan 27, 2013 4:45 pm

I have noticed the decline of bees here. When my lillypillys & Murrayas are in flower, normally they are covered in bees. The last few years there have only been a few bees on the shrubs.
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby MacMaples » Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:23 pm

That's worrying. Bee decline has been discussed on overseas gardening forums for years, biggest problem seemed to be in the US. I know there have been a few theories about the cause. I get the impression, don't know how accurate it is, that they are very big over there on having professionally maintained lawns and all that pesticide use can't be good for the ecosystems. Very disappointing if we go the same way. As for the native bees, I didn't know about leaving some bare ground for them, we have some unfinished areas at the moment but I'll have to keep that in mind.
I'm not sure about the bees here. The salvias that used to attract them haven't flowered well this year, in fact I think the heat took a toll on all the flowering plants.
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby lilly60 » Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:23 pm

May be its just a bad year all around, not only with some of our veggie crops and our plants and trees doing strange things and/or not thriving - and with the bees included. Here's hoping its only temporary and we notice an improvement in the next 12 months or so.... :-?
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby Pam » Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:27 pm

I know we have a few different varieties of bees here, but was quite surprised a month or so ago to see one disappearing into the ground. I have no idea what variety it was though
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby greg.l » Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:20 am

The eucalypts here haven't flowered at all this year, evidently it has been like that all over eastern Australia, a big problem for the apiarists, not very much patterson's curse either. I had plenty of bees in spring but not much flowering at the moment. For me it has been a poor year for butterflies, mainly just some cabbage whites.
I have seen some blue banded bees lately.
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby tam » Mon Jan 28, 2013 12:37 pm

I have noticed bee decline over 4/5 years. I don't use many sprays and if I do, I spray late afternoon.
I had 2 date palms flower a couple of months back with about 8 flowers on each. The flowers were covered with native bees with just a few of the honey bees.
I have to pollinate any pumpkins I grow or no fruit where as before, I had no trouble with the fruit setting.
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby jaden62 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:16 am

I've got flowering plants outside my front fenceline & in a garden bed, specifically to attract bees/pollinating insects. What I noticed this year is that even though the flowers in the bed are going well, the ones outside the fenceline (that usually just look after themselves) just didn't flower for long. Instead of having a display out there for a couple of months as previously, they all seemed to be over & done with in a couple of weeks. There don't seem to be a lot of flowers in the neighbourhood, either. I'm assuming this may be one of the reasons why I'm not having many pollinating insects coming around.

I was discussing this situation (& others) with some other people on Sunday, & their thoughts were that our weather this summer was a bit strange. Here in Adelaide, it stayed quite cool for early summer & then suddenly fell into >40 degree days. Then back to cooler days & up to >40 again. The soil didn't have the chance to warm up slowly for seedlings to take on properly before they got scorched, & the flowering plants were all "out of phase". Consequently this would also cause problems with bees & pollinating insects. On the plus side, I also haven't noticed much in the way of "troublesome" insects either.
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby oz koala » Tue Jan 29, 2013 10:37 am

That does sound worrying, however I've not noticed it here.
Our paddock hasn't needed mowing so much lately with the lack of rain, and this has resulted in the clover being allowed to flower and plenty of bees. Hopefully that will continue :D
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby lilly60 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:05 pm

Perhaps thats what all of us in the 'burbs need to be doing, planting and/or encouraging clover to grow... :P Here's hoping things "normalize" in the next 12 months re: weird weather patterns - although even over the last few years its been rather erratic. Just some seasons that don't throw extremes in short spaces of time at our gardens and their supporting insects is all we can realistically hope for these days. :)
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby jaden62 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:44 am

Here in SA we're used to warm weather in the summer, but what (I think) causes trouble is when you've got days of 25-27, then the next couple of days jump to 39-43, then straight back to 25. I think it was only in the last week or so, we had an overnight change of 19C. We went from 43C one day to 24 the next. No wonder the garden (& the insects) is confused! Unfortunately there's nothing much we can do about that, short of set up an entirely artificial environment system, & seeing as most of us are home gardeners, that's a bit out of our range. So we need to do everything we can to encourage the good insects. I'm going to be setting up native bee "housing" (Burke's Backyard magazine has an article on them this month), I've got some water out the front, but I'm going to set up a more permanent version, & I'm going to try to work out more flowering plants that don't detract from my flowering vegetables. I may not have much luck during the rest of this year, but hopefully for next year it will be different.
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby greg.l » Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:45 am

A beekeeper left a truckload of hives across the road from me today so I should see plenty in my garden. I don't know what the hives will feed on, there is mistletoe starting to flower but not much else. The eucalypts don't even have buds let alone flowers.I think they get lots of pollen off weeds and there should be plenty after the rain.
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby Getafix » Wed Jan 30, 2013 12:31 pm

I can certainly vouch for the clover...we've had a number of bee stings from treading on them this summer. But having said that, there hasn't been much pollination of the passion fruit this year. Unfortunately, I think the extremes we've seen the last few years are only going to get more frequent and severe as climate change starts to ramp up in the decades ahead
Check my garden out on MyFolia:

http://myfolia.com/gardener/Getafix
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby tam » Wed Jan 30, 2013 8:33 pm

It will be hard on the crops that rely on bees.
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby MacMaples » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:27 pm

greg.l wrote: . . not very much patterson's curse either . .

Not much Patterson's Curse here this year either.We had a lot of St John's Wort, no idea where it suddenly came from, and I read that it outgrew the Patterson's Curse. I just googled and apparently bees like it so I guess the change shouldn't affect bee numbers.
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby greg.l » Thu Jan 31, 2013 5:17 am

Yes, a lot of St john's wort here, we have had it for a long time. very tough stuff, and perennial unlike pattersons curse. I think Pattersons Curse is a lot better food for bees, the beekeepers love it.
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby lilly60 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:42 pm

Yes, unfortunately it looks like the extremes of weather aren't going to be just a "one off". I'm a little ashamed (?) /embarrassed to admit that I have in the past taken the poor bees for granted. :oops: But we are in all kinds of trouble with our crops if we don't have them. At least if we are aware of this, we can try in our own small way to plant and fine tweak our garden environment with bees' survival in mind. They are a very valuable little creature. :)
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby jaden62 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:03 pm

After all my complaints about not having any bees & flowers, I took a close look @ people's gardens on my walk home from the Farmer's Market.

I saw gardens with the same type of flowering plants as me & they were all in full bloom, & within a couple of houses the same types of plants didn't have a flower in sight. So it's not just me.

However, I also found 2 HUGE nests of bees!

Image First nest, found around the corner
Image
Image
Image Second nest, found around the corner in a different direction
Image
Image

Please excuse the quality of the pics. I've reduced them (but still got the originals) in the hope of not taking up too much bandwidth, & it was hard taking pictures with a dog who also wanted to stick his nose in & find out what mum was looking at!
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby tam » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:19 pm

So good to see. There are certainly a few bees there.
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Re: Bees (declining numbers?)

Postby greg.l » Sat Feb 02, 2013 8:36 pm

Those first pictures are of a bee swarm - not a hive. A swarm is when a queen leaves a hive with lots of workers, they gather on a branch in a big mass of bees while they look for a new hive site (maybe in the eaves of someone's house). The second lot of pictures are a hive, maybe that is where the swarm came from.
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