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Not seeing any bees?

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 Siward 06 Jul 2024

I've noticed, we're early July now and no bees. Hardly any. We have lavender in bloom and cotoneaster which the bees are usually all over. Lots of plants that the bees love are empty of any.

Anyone else having the same experience? Or reasons? Coolness, late frost?

 girlymonkey 06 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

Where are you?

Our cotoneaster, in Mid Argyll, has been humming with the sound of bees. They are all over it. Maybe something regional has happened?

In reply to Siward:

> I've noticed, we're early July now and no bees. Hardly any. We have lavender in bloom and cotoneaster which the bees are usually all over. Lots of plants that the bees love are empty of any.

> Anyone else having the same experience? Or reasons? Coolness, late frost?

The lavender and heebee are all in full bloom in my garden. Normally covered in bees. I've not seen one.

In reply to Siward:

Garden - has been quiet generally for all invertebrates though coincidentally today I’ve seen more bees than any other day this year. Only small numbers though compared with recent years.

Outwith - fewer bees this year but still some about up here in and around Fife. Mostly solitary bee species I’ve seen, but starting to see a few more bumblebee species though still few honeybees I think.

Dragonflies almost non existent this year in places I’ve been to - seen just two species once each! Fewer damselflies seen so far this year too. Butterfly species and their numbers seem down also this year so far though it has been picking up with numbers for some species just in the last couple of weeks.

Speaking to others these are common observations sadly. Not confined just to invertebrates. Not had any real reasons, though weather is one part. 

Post edited at 19:30
 DizzyT 06 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

Bees aplenty in the White Peak. No wasps yet though.

 Tony Buckley 06 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

My car windscreen suggests that there are noticeably more bugs around this summer than for a decade or more.

Fewer after I've driven past, obviously.  

T.

 deepsoup 06 Jul 2024
In reply to MG:

That's encouraging then.

There's a nice little meadow not far from here that was humming with ashy mining bees when I 'discovered' it during the pandemic.  They're beautiful elegant little black and white solitary burrowing bees, only really active above ground in April, May and June.

Last year I thought their numbers might be a wee bit down on the previous few years but wasn't really sure, this year I haven't seen a single one.  I assume that's because it was so cold and damp right through the Spring but don't really know.  I hope they'll be able to make a recovery next year.

 Tom Valentine 06 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

If anyone has planted oilseed rape near you the bees will ignore everything else and head for the yellow stuff. Or so my several beekeeping mates tell me.

OP Siward 06 Jul 2024
In reply to girlymonkey:

We're down in Derbyshire. Heartened to hear they are out in the nearby White Peak. The article MG linked to may explain.

 Bottom Clinger 06 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

I’ve seen a few bees, but butterflies! Waaaay low numbers. 

 bonebag 06 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

Few bees in our garden in Cheshire. Like you we have lots of plants attractive to bees.

 TheHorroffice 07 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

The 'no-mow' initiative was our best shot at reversing invertebrate decline but thanks to Alan Titchmarsh etal it became a culture war and we are back to where we were 

In reply to Siward:

We had loads in our garden earlier in the summer, and a bumblebee hive in an old bird box, but I’ve noticed there’s been very few the last couple of weeks

 Timmd 07 Jul 2024
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

> The lavender and heebee are all in full bloom in my garden. Normally covered in bees. I've not seen one.

This is worth knowing about on a national/international level, Glyphosate inhibits melanin production across all insect species, with melanin production linked to immune function. Other studies find it inhibits navigational abilities in drone bees. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8115815/

In reply to Siward:

West coast Scotland, island. Lots of bees this year, feels like more than most years. Our garden is full of flowering bushes and has had a constant hum for weeks.

I've also noticed this year that on long drives my windscreen needs the insects cleaning off. It's a long time since I've had to do that.

 Dax H 07 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

Not as many in our garden as normal and it seems this year I was seeing bumble queens much later than normal. I'm wondering if they came out late and failed to find a new nest spot. 

 duchessofmalfi 07 Jul 2024
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers:

Same here - it's a bit sad

 Andy Johnson 07 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

My workroom is in the roof space of my house and has large velux windows front and rear. Bees have often used this as a shortcut across the house in good weather when the windows are open - something I'm always very pleased to see.

Not this year. Haven't noticed a single bee so far.

Same in the garden, where we keep an area un-mowed and "wild" for insects etc. Pretty worrying.

(Manchester)

Post edited at 23:13
 petemeads 07 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

Hardly any bees in our Leicestershire garden currently, despite hebe, cotoneaster and verbascum, and didn't see many in Suffolk over the weekend. They were around in droves during Spring. No rape crop locally.

 David Alcock 08 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

Very few in our wild garden in Sheffield. 

 Phil1919 08 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

For a bit of inspiration and hope, try and get to see 'Wilding' on at cinemas just now.

 SFM 08 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

Our lavender has had the occasional honey bee visit this week but as yet no Bumblebees. Normally it's hoachin' with them. We went to a lavender farm last week and struggled to find any bees at all. I've left the clover to grow in the grass this year but again little activity. I'm in SE London.

Hopefully that article posted above means we do see a late burst of activity.

 Tringa 08 Jul 2024
In reply to SFM:

Not as many bees and other insects here in this bit of London. A notable missing insect around here is the cinnabar moth. I live close to an area that has a lot of common ragwort. Usually, by this time of the year there would be plenty the moth caterpillars on the ragwort.

I looked about an hour ago on my way back home and found none.

Dave

 kathrync 08 Jul 2024
In reply to Siward:

I have a bee house which is home to both mason bee and leaf cutter bee colonies - I can see into it which gives me some insight into what's happening with them. 

With the mason bees, I had a large population from last year, and they all hatched, however the survival and laying rate this spring was very low. I put this down to cold wet weather. Generally, we would have one warm sunny day, and a bunch would hatch and start building cells. Then the temperature would drop. I would see them huddling in the bee house for a couple of days, and then they would vanish. I suspect they were succumbing to cold or starvation in the poor weather. I will have a very small colony at the start of next year.

None of my leaf cutters have emerged yet. They are usually out in late June, but it has been colder than usual, which I suspect is driving the delay - they usually emerge after 3-4 warm sunny days in a row and we haven't really had that here. I did see one (which must have come from a different colony) taking pieces of strawberry leaf yesterday though, so I have hope!

We had a warm day here on Saturday, and all the foxgloves and clover in my garden were full of various species of bumblebee. Most of my other bee-flowers are not out yet though - these are also delayed by the cold weather. Lavendar, borage, phacelia, cosmos - all  usually draw the bees but none are quite in flower. I haven't seen any honeybees yet, but they tend to come for the phacelia, so I hope to see more once it flowers!

 Uluru 13:18 Mon
In reply to Siward:

I saw a lot on my bottlebrush over the weekend. I almost took a photo as there were so many

In reply to Siward:

I live on a modern housing estate in a large village. The gardens are typically tiny and most are given over to immaculate lawns or have been paved for extra parking. My own tiny front garden is probably the only one on the estate that has wildlife at its centre.

It's just big enough for a single Hawthorn and Blackthorn, which together with a broom and creeping pine form a sort of woodland edge which then merges into a very unkempt "meadow".

In the "meadow" the Oxeye Daises are past their best now, but the Devil's-bit Scabious are just getting going along with the Selfheal and the Meadow Crane's-bill. There are various yellow things which look like dandelions but aren't and some nice Welsh Poppies, and lots of Herb-Robert.

It's normally very busy with hoverflies and bees but the numbers do seem to be well down this year. I'm hoping it's just down to the wet and cool weather rather than part of a longer term trend. Without the insects and all the other small stuff that runs the world, we are frankly, f""ked.

Recently a gardener knocked on my door to ask if I wanted any work or tree removal carried out . "I notice you've got a Hawthorn there" he said.

"Yes I know, I planted it there" I replied.

"Oh.........." he said.

I think it should be compulsory for a significant proportion of all gardens to be planted with native species.

Post edited at 14:40
 kathrync 15:30 Mon
In reply to storm-petrel:

> I live on a modern housing estate in a large village. The gardens are typically tiny and most are given over to immaculate lawns or have been paved for extra parking. My own tiny front garden is probably the only one on the estate that has wildlife at its centre.

I live in a 1950s housing estate. It's quite easy to tell who are original owners and who are newer owners. The original owners mostly have some form of garden in the front, and it's generally shrubs/perrenials/small trees and bedding. The newer owners have generally paved or gravelled all of the front for extra parking - if you are lucky they might have a few hydrangeas in pots. When we moved in, we bemused most of our neighbours by ripping most of the parking space out and turning it back into garden.

My neighbours moved in ~1 year ago. They bought the house from the original owner and inherited a lovely mature shrub garden (albeit a bit overgrown since she was no longer really able to care for it). Within two weeks it was all gone - pristine white gravel for parking in the front, everything ripped out of the back and laid to lawn, everything overhanging pruned hard back to the boundaries. I was so sad!

I feel a bit mean because they are lovely people, but I have to laugh at the effort it takes them to keep on top of all the seedlings from my wild-flower patch rooting in their lovely white gravel!

In reply to Siward:

Further note - I have two ponds into which I planted purple loosestrife mainly, but not solely, for the bees. They are normally covered in bees of all types. Its been a lovely, warm, calm day day here and the loosestrife is now in flower as you can see from the picture from my office (front garden). There's also lavendar in full bloom. Nothing on them at all. 

Post edited at 15:55

In reply to storm-petrel:

Lived in this house since the early 80s and never had Self Heal on the lawn until this year. No idea where it's come from.

 aln 19:56 Mon
In reply to Siward:

I was going to disagree coz I recently saw loads of bees in Aberdeenshire and Inverness. But then my local council in C Scotland have developed this lovely wild flower meadow. I was walking past enjoying it this morning, then I realised I didn't see one single bee

 RobertKett 21:10 Mon
In reply to Siward:

This afternoon, for the first time this year, there were several different types of bee on the clover patch in my wee garden; fingers crossed.

 Kevster 21:25 Mon
In reply to Siward:

East Hertfordshire. Barely an insect in sight. 

Spent a few days recently in South Essex. That's the same. 

It's a tragic loss and the whole food chain follows suit. 

 Offwidth 00:13 Tue
In reply to Siward:

This won't have helped:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/article/2024/jul/08/watchdog-launch...

I noticed very low numbers in the Gower in June during the climbing festival: we walked through a nature reserve and the dunes near Oxwich with amazing wild flowers but very few bees.

 aln 16:19 Tue
In reply to Offwidth:

> This won't have helped:

I read that a few days ago and I was so angry I probably looked like a Tory eating a mouthful of bees! I wonder how many of them will profit from it in some way? 

 Neil Henson 17:36 Tue
In reply to storm-petrel:

> I live on a modern housing estate in a large village. The gardens are typically tiny and most are given over to immaculate lawns or have been paved for extra parking. My own tiny front garden is probably the only one on the estate that has wildlife at its centre.

> It's just big enough for a single Hawthorn and Blackthorn, which together with a broom and creeping pine form a sort of woodland edge which then merges into a very unkempt "meadow".

> In 

> Recently a gardener knocked on my door to ask if I wanted any work or tree removal carried out . 

It's depressing how many people view trees as a nuisance. Even more so when it's someone whose trade should be geared towards planting more of them, rather than wanting to remove them.

 SFM 22:27 Wed
In reply to Siward:

0n a more positive note, when I came home from work this event the Lavender was busy with Bumblebees. I saw more in 5 mins than I’ve seen in 2months! Hopefully the trend continues.

 SFM 22:28 Wed
In reply to Offwidth:

Thanks for posting that article. I’m curious what happens now that we have a new government.

In reply to Offwidth:

The emergency use was restricted to Sugar beet as a seed treatment only in certain areas where winter temps had not been sufficient to control the virus spreading aphids. Sugar beet does not flower so would only affect pollinating plants in the tiny areas around fields, if at all. Given that you have no sugar factories in Wales I doubt the lack of bees is from this use.

 Sam Beaton 07:13 Thu
In reply to TheHorroffice:

Do you think the EU went over the top in banning these chemicals? Do you think it's unnecessary for the watchdog to be investigating DEFRA for authorising their use?

In reply to Sam Beaton:

I don't know, pesticide regulation is an intensely regulated industry and you would need to be an e-fate professional to take a view. I just doubt that some treated beet seed in east Anglia is causing a decline of invertebrates in Wales. Something is going on, it's terrible, but neonics used to be used on every single crop and we have not seen a spring back since the ban. Also, many many EU countries issue similar emergency authorisations for sugar beet. What is causing the decline I don't know but at a guess I would say the mower is way more to blame, with every pass it kills an entire ecosystem.  Stop mowing peeps.

 Offwidth 09:07 Thu
In reply to TheHorroffice:

From the linked article:

>Conservative ministers authorised the pesticide for use this year, against the warnings of scientific advisers. Both the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Expert Committee on Pesticides raised concerns over this year’s emergency authorisation. Neonicotinoid pesticides can stay in the soil for years, and they taint any flowering plant which grows, meaning that bees foraging for nectar from a flower can be poisoned years after treated seeds were planted.

The idea this constitutes tight regulation is ridiculous, before we even consider how cash starved all UK regulators have become since 2010. 

In any case, you are the one adding 2 and 2 and getting 5, as I didn't claim a unique causal link to the national decline, let alone oddly low numbers in a nature reserve in Oxwich. I just said such use of a pesticide, so toxic to bees that it is now banned in the EU, wouldn't help. I'm sensitive to this as I used to work alongside Biology Profs campaigning for a total ban... so what's your expertise that shows they, the HSE, the Expert Committee and the EU are wrong.

Post edited at 09:14
 Sam Beaton 13:44 Thu
In reply to TheHorroffice:

> Stop mowing peeps.

100% agree with that

In reply to Offwidth:

It is banned. The use in sugarbeet is as an emergency approval granted or refused each year. The pesticide industry is the most tightly regulated in the world. What happens to neonics in the soil is kind of moot as their use is so restricted. I don't know if they are killing bees or not, it's such a politicised area its impossible to know what's what. That said, the ban of them has had absolutely no impact on agriculture other than a reduction in wors (impacting bees ironically). That they were so unnecessary and used so widely is a tragedy for sure. You seem to be an expert in everything, it's really amazing.

Post edited at 16:18
 Offwidth 07:19 Fri
In reply to TheHorroffice:

>The pesticide industry is the most tightly regulated in the world.

It's tightly regulated, but do you seriously think the UK is really the most tightly regulated in the world, given the EU regulations are clearly tougher; and we are involved in trade deals  on food with countries where regulation is a more lax. Plus the disastrous drops in funding UK regulators have faced since 2010. The HSE situation:

https://app.croneri.co.uk/feature-articles/perfect-storm-why-funding-cuts-a...

In any case, the earlier linked article claims government made this emergency approval decision against HSE and other scientific advice... why not explain that?

Post edited at 07:22
1
In reply to Offwidth: 

UK regulations have not changed since Brexit, we still follow 11/07 to the letter. Some withdrawals that have been made in the EU (e.g mancozeb) are still approved in the UK but that's only a delay, we will be following the EU decision. I said before, all EU member states that have sugar beet as a main crop still grant emergency authorisations on an annual basis for neonic seed treatments. The UK takes a stricter approach than most, restricting it to certain areas and certain years. CRD is responsible for pesticide regulation, UK gov has basically knack all involvement. British sugar did try to lobby the conservatives to prevent a ban and it went nowhere, we still voted for the ban. I am not pro conventional farming, but on a global scale the UK has very high cutoff points and we should be quite proud of what we are trying to do. When the EU bans something the rest of the world generally has to follow as they also cut MRL's to zero. The Guardian can be a little naive and lacking in nuance sometimes, especially in ag. 

 Offwidth 08:12 Fri
In reply to TheHorroffice:

Chemicals Regulation Division are part of the HSE, are they immune to those massive HSE cuts? The Guardian saying HSE opposed the approval wouldn't be nuance it would be an outright error requiring a correction and a formal apology.

https://www.hse.gov.uk/pesticides/enforcement/index.htm

I've also worked on farms and alongside researchers in our farming/food department and know how stupid some 'bad egg' farmers can be at times. Regulation is important. I know full well we have high standards in the UK but that doesnt mean we should ignore concerns of expert critics on pesticide specifics nor serious concerns on overall cuts in funding for regulation. What happened to regulation of rivers gives us a clear warning .... pre-2010 this had led to significant improvement in water quality, a situation that has sadly reversed thanks to regulatory change and austerity impacts.

Post edited at 08:13
 Offwidth 08:49 Fri
In reply to TheHorroffice:

This was my first search result on EU regulatory change on emergency permissions:

https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/eu-to-tighten-grip-o...

 jimtitt 16:47 Fri
In reply to Offwidth:

Is the use of neonocnitoids really regulated by the HSE in the UK? Here in Germany it's the agricultural ministry which is responsible.

My neighbour farmed some sugerbeet and I've chatted with him a few times about the ban. The last emergency permits were issued in 2021 and only covered 1/3rd of the areas affected and came with such strong regulation that susequently nearly a half abandoned sugarbeet as a crop. Why? The sugar beet is harvested before flowering so bees have extremely limited exposure (it is in the plants themselves as it is applied to the seeds with a protective coating) and the requirement is that the following crop may not provide a food source to bees so the neoniconitoid residues have time (minimum 9 months) to degenerate and the crops are tested to ensure the levels are below the minimum. The alternative is a crop loss of ca. 50% which in the case of my neighbour when he was affected meant he abandoned sugarbeet as a crop permenantly and in fact closure of one of the three sugar manufacturing plants in Germany.

The lower number of bees this year has been put down to spring flowering this year being three weeks early before the bees were active then a prolonged period of cold and wet weather keeping the bees in their hives.

 MG 19:58 Fri
In reply to jimtitt:

> The lower number of bees this year has been put down to spring flowering this year being three weeks early before the bees were active then a prolonged period of cold and wet weather keeping the bees in their hives.

Honey bees are not the (main) concern as they are effectively farmed animals. It's bumble bees (and other insects) which don't have hives. Neonics are phenomenally toxic to them even in minute doses and travel in e.g. water courses. Coupled with other stressors (climate change, landuse change etc.) the concerns are grave. Loss of some sugar beat is nothing compared to the potential losses if flowering crops aren't effectively pollinated (as has happened in areas of china), even if you don't give shit about biodiversity. Farmers managed before neonics and can manage again.

In reply to jimtitt:

It's not HSE no, it's CRD responsible who report to DEFRA. Farmers are doing without neonics, they have been banned 

 MG 06:54 Sat
In reply to TheHorroffice:

> It's not HSE no, it's CRD responsible who report to DEFRA. Farmers are doing without neonics, they have been banned 

That's not correct 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/emergency-pesticide-authorisation-to-pro...

 Offwidth 10:41 Sat
In reply to TheHorroffice:

From the HSE link above:

>"If HSE is the appropriate enforcing authority for your concern about plant protection products, you should report it to the Enforcement Team in our Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) directly. There is no need to fill in any forms, just email us at [email protected]."

In reply to Siward:

There's a piece in today's Graun about an absence of butterflies this year, as well as bees etc:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/article/2024/jul/13/butterflies-s...

Basically seems to be the weather, but also the long term decline in insect and invertebrate populations.

To my shame I hadn't thought of butterflies, but I dont recall seeing even one this year. How easy it is not notice these things.


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