Lately I’ve wondered whether the phrase “pollinator count” sends pollinators scurrying for a leaf to hide under. Last week, on several formal ‘pollinator counts’, I saw very few bees. For example, one count yielded only a blue-banded bee, a teddy bear bee, and a few honey bees. Another, no bees at all.
It was a different story on informal walks this week (though pollinator numbers were still smaller than they had been in summer). For example, a few days ago I saw a stand of Salvia flowers (Salvia leucantha?) in Waverton Bowling Club being visited by a variety of bees. First, this Teddy Bear Bee came in to land on a flower:
After staying in several garden-free English B&Bs, it was delightful to arrive at Mimosa Lodge in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, where there was a half-acre of garden AND sunshine. I could hear a number of birds as we pulled in. However, when I went outside after unpacking, I discovered that much of the wildlife activity was coming from insects in the flower bed next to the breakfast terrace, and in the nearby flowering trees.
The first thing I noticed was the darker coloration of many of the honey bees. I concluded that these must be British Black Bees (Apis mellifera mellifera).
I’m a notorious non-participator in group activities, but one I did participate in last month was the Autumn Wild Pollinator Survey. The results of the survey came today in an email with a link to some of the photos submitted, including some of my own.
Looking at those photos reminded me I had yet to review my portfolio for what had been a pleasant morning’s outing near the BP site at Waverton. I had taken a camera with a telephoto lens, as I didn’t want to get too close to any of the flowers lest I discouraged the pollinators.
Not long after setting out, I became aware of a beady set of eyes regarding me with deep suspicion.
I pulled my hat a little lower over the back of my neck and continued on. A little further along, I was reminded that there were others who prefer consuming pollinators to counting them:
You’re almost certainly familiar with Hoverflies, which occur in most parts of the world. They are usually seen in poses like the one below, hovering near flowers (thyme in this case). This one is a Simosyrphus grandicornis, perhaps the most commonly found species in eastern Australia.