It is the varroa mite (which you may have heard of) which seems to have done for the feral colonies as it is so successful a parasite that it easily spreads between colonies, especially via the male 'drone' bees and easily between domestic and feral colonies. In domestic (hive) colonies the mite can be controlled using pesticides and its numbers stay low and the colony can thrive, but in the wild situation the bees get no such protection and the mite wipes out the colony which would be in a roof or an old hollow tree. The Department scientists here are now sure that this has been so bad a collapse that the only bees here in Ireland now are in hives or in recent swarms from same. It makes the beekeepers job even more vital to the bee-pollinated crops and wild flowers so it is good to see that our own group and the training classes are so well supported - there is a huge surge of interest in bee keeping going on at present.
|Bee hive entrance, 7 mm high give or take.|
|One of the Bee School hand-outs|
In one area, though, we are tapping our fingers at lack of progress. We have, as you'll know, our 'magnificent' (our unbiased opinion!) wildlife pond all planted up and filled and bristling with skaters, boatmen and fly nymphs. We have deliberately stocked it with NO fishy predators. We have seen frogs and newts among the long grass in 2013 and some of these we have dropped into the pond just so that they know it is there. We have seen people's pictures of frogs spawning in December 2013 in Cork and now in Kent in February. We have sent out invitations. We have even seen road-kill frogs on the lane here this week, so we know they are starting to move about, seeking out those breeding ponds. We have NOT, however, seen a single frog or newt in our pond. Patience, you wildlife gardeners. If You Build it, They Will Come.......