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Nature Note - Insects

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Butterflies of Bugbrooke.  All photographs taken in or around the village of Bugbrooke.

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Green-veined butterfly Speckled Wood Common Blue (male) Common Blue (female) Gatekeeper
Small Copper butterfly Holly Blue butterfly Male Orange-tip butterfly Female Orange Tip  Red Admiral Butterfly
Brown Argus Comma Holly Blue Brimstone Peacock
Small Tortoiseshell Small White Large White Meadow Brown (female) Meadow Brown (male)

Day Flying Moths of Bugbrooke- All Photographed in or around Bugbrooke

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Cinnabar Moth

Small Purple & Gold Moth 6 Spot Burnet Moth Ghost Moth Yellow Shell Moth

Caterpillar of theVapourer Moth (D Marshall)

Emperor Moth Caterpillar (D Marshall)


Honeybees – A Local Viewpoint  

This article was written by Dave Lansbery for the February 2010 issue of LINK

“Crisis? What crisis?” said a former Prime Minister, and I wonder if something similar could be said about the volume of publicity which our friends the honeybees have attracted in the last two years. The glare of media attention first turned towards the bees because of the serious problems experienced by American migratory bee- keepers several years ago. In what came to be called Colony Collapse Disorder these bee-keepers found a large percentage of their hives suddenly emptying and dying in a new and unprecedented way. Clearly, for the Americans, this was an immensely worrying situation because many major crops depended on these bees for essential pollination.

Here in Britain, during the same period, there were reports of higher than usual colony losses during two consecutive winters. Now the plot thickens, because the media, ever keen to publicise a major disaster, conveyed the impression that British bee-keepers were suffering the same cataclysm as their American cousins (this was not the case) and by simple media logic the human race was therefore doomed.

So, let me try to convey the reality of the situation that we local bee-keepers are facing. Certainly there are more difficulties now than when I nervously opened my first hive in Bugbrooke 35 years ago. The arrival of the parasitic Varroa mite into the nation’s hives in the early ‘90s brought a dramatic change. Any hives or wild honeybee colonies which were not given the standard anti-Varroa pesticide treatment would inevitably die within a matter of months. (The Varroa mites reproduce within the bee’s blood cells and progressively weaken and finally overwhelm the colony.)

For quite a number of years this treatment proved very effective, but over the last 3 or 4 years the pesky little mites have developed resistance to the pesticide and so bee-keepers have needed to seek alternative methods of control. Now we arrive at the most likely explanation for the increased winter losses reported by our bee owners. Any bee colony whose mite infestation has not been sufficiently reduced by the other available methods, will be much more susceptible to a range of common bee diseases. (No, don’t worry, humans are highly unlikely to be hit by a bee-flu pandemic). This inevitably leads to more colony deaths and more column inches for our national newspapers!

Let me conclude positively. The 2009 season has been an excellent one for English bee-keepers, with a high level of swarming (colony increase) and near record levels of honey production. So if those of us who enjoy the challenge and buzz (sorry!) of looking after our nation’s wonderful honey gatherers and pollinators can strengthen our anti-varroa battle (I try to fight the mite in 4 different ways throughout the year), not only will the human race survive a little longer, but that delicious spoonful of honey (pure English of course) will remain available for many years to come.

Dave Lantsbery