Friday, 21 August 2015

Gatsbees B-Log: July 2015

‘Look girls’, I said,

Crocosmia 'lucifer'(non-invasive type of Montbretia)

it’s the end of July

and I’m all beed out.

Too many swarms. Too many colonies.

Next time I go to the apiary and see a swarm

I’m going to ignore it……….

let it fly away and find itself a new home………..

Lavandular angustifolia

Sort yourselves out, I’m going home...

Helenium 'Moorheim Beauty'

to do some gardening!

I’m back now, and you’re still there? OK, same routine; shake into box, check!

Girls fanning to send out location with their 'Nasonov' gland pheromone, check!

Bees going into hive?

Rachel: front-line photographer

Tom and myself checking on the new colony

Sometimes the bees freestyle with their comb if they’re not properly contained in the hive -

properly for us, that is, not them...

so we have to rearrange their perfectly air conditioned house if we don’t want them to permanently jam themselves in, normally using elastic bands (but airfield tape will do in an emergency),

which they chew off

while they attach the comb properly to the frame

and we remove the remaining tape asap.
Anybody spotted the queen above? A puzzle because she’s a mated queen and I couldn’t think where she’d come from...

until I found the other nucleus box empty, because they’d decided that wasn’t where they wanted to live!

Great Willowherb (Epilobium hirsutum)

Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus)

Going back to this photo from earlier...

I thought you might like to see a close up of this row of tiny claws supporting the weight of the cluster. Remarkable!

I can only guess that they clustered like this because the hive was too full of bees, so I gave them a super with empty frames for a bit of space and something to do. Spoilsport!

Gatekeeper Butterfly (Pyronia tithonus), because we support all Gatwick pollinators!

Gillybee x

Monday, 17 August 2015

Superb summer

The past few months have been another level of busy, I've had to look back over photos again just to remember what has been happening one day to the next!
   We've had various site meetings with airport project supervisors for habitat assessments along some new infrastructure...

Westfield Stream diversion

Grass Snake habitat enhancements

We've been catching ups with our biodiversity partners, plus Gatwick's two Biodiversity Action Plans have now been updated to 2017...

There has been continued reduction of the invasive plant species Himalayan Balsam, with thanks to Tom Simpson's volunteers and JSA Group, Gatwick's ground maintenance contractors...

Gatwick Airport staff volunteers


JSA Group operative Lauren

I recently spent a few days airside with trainee airport operatives on a birdstrike course, run by Birdstrike Management Ltd. It focused on airside bird identification and the prevention of collisions with aircraft...

Airside and Gatwick's Control Tower

Group exercises in bird identification

There have been regular check ups on our thriving Gatsbees colonies and sample collecting for the Sentinel Apiary Project...

Gill checks the health of a newly collected swarm

I also visited the nearby National Trust site at Leith Hill, to learn about the bird ringing and monitoring carried out by lead ranger Sam Bayley.

Tree Pipit, waiting for it's new bling

The coded language of bird ringers

We've had bat surveys coming out of our ears with Laurie and Martyn on our sites...

Twilight along the River Mole

Bat poop-sampling

Bats  infinity

And finally (the bit I like best), biological recording on our sites with a fantastic bunch of volunteers...

Back of the net

A Hoverfly - Sphaerophoria scripta 
(I.D. by Ryan Mitchell)

Ryan and Elliott collect materials for a new bee hotel

Original bee hotel - currently occupied by male Leafcutter Bees

Brown Hairstreak Butterfly - Thecla betulae

Assessing newt habitat suitability (Helen, Elliott & Me)

Emperor Dragonfly - Anax imperator

Wasp Spider - Argiope bruennichi
(Photo by Elliott Lloyd)

Dormouse box checks

Small mammal identification: Yellow-necked Mouse - Apodemus flavicollis

Brown Argus Butterfly - Aricia agestis

Our volunteers always give me an incentivised-boost with biological recording and species monitoring, so a massive thank you to all who have been involved this summer, particularly Helen, Elliott, Ryan and Mark!