Click here to play                 Read by Matthew

Welcome again this week to Buzzline. It has been great this week watching Red Mason Bees starting to line the trays in some of your Bee boxes with pollen. It will not be long before in these boxes and many others, eggs will be laid and the individual cells sealed with mud. Once this happens, we will all be then able to see the eggs change before our eyes in to larvae. Isn’t nature truly amazing!

Fact of the week: Scientists believe female Red Mason Bees can travel up to 800 metres from their nest in search of pollen. However, studies show the average distance most will travel is just 30-50 metres from the nest.

Protecting our United Kingdom's Pollinators

We all have a part to play in supporting our UK Pollinators. That can be:

  • Fitting a bee box southward facing on an outside wall.
  • Planting flowers and trees that attract pollinators during the summer months.
  • Informing others about the important role pollinating insects play in supporting the food chain on this planet!

So what your school is doing supporting “Perfect Pollinators” is very special and over the next 12 to 18 months you will see why.

Your school is actively supporting and protecting our UK Pollinators!

If everything goes well inside your bee box you will by September 2018 have lots of Red Mason bee cocoons.

This year 2017. The box that you have fitted on an outside wall has inside it four to five trays. Each tray if filled can hold between 20 and 30 cocoons. Multiply that figure by 5 and each bee box can be home to up to 100 Red Mason bee cocoons!

Now let us all step forward to March 2018. If most of your cocoons open then about 50 male and 50 female Red Mason bees will exit hibernation. Summer 2018 the 50 new female Red Mason bees are each capable of laying between 20 and 30 eggs. If all these eggs grow then by September 2018 you will have over 1000 Red Mason Bee cocoons in your school grounds.

Question - Carry on like this for 2 or 3 more years and how many Red Mason cocoons do you think you will have in 2020?

What should our school do with its stock of Red Mason Bee Cocoons?

It is important to realise that not all your cocoons come the spring will open. Some may unsuccessfully pupate and some may be victim of parasites that feed on the pollen or the larvae itself. However, let us hope that most survive because if they do your school will have some exciting decisions to make with what you do with the hundreds of new Red Mason Bee cocoons!

Here are four things you could do with your new Red Mason bee cocoons.

  1. Give your excess stock to a local farmer, fruit grower or vineyard so that the bees can pollinate their crops.
  2. Give some of your excess bees to a local school so that they can join the Perfect Pollinators Schools Red Mason bee project.
  3. Give bees to pupils in your school so that the bees next spring and summer can pollinate the flowers and plants in their gardens.
  4. Fit more bee boxes around your school so you can continue increasing your solitary bee numbers and each year give more bee cocoons to local farmers, growers and schools.

So there you have it. Lots of possible ways your school can support our UK pollinators and hopefully after reading or listening to this article you can confidently explain to others the important work you’re your school is doing helping UK pollinators and the work they do supporting the food chain. Just remember as you watch these amazing insects one in three mouthfuls of food and drink we consume on this planet requires pollen!

Buzzline will be back with a new report on Monday 26th June 2017.

Photographs:

Red Mason bee visits flower (Top left)    Female Red Mason bee (Top right)

Sandown School bee Box (Top right)      Sandown School bee tray (Top left)

Bees in garden (Middle left)                    Apple orchard (Middle right)

School pupils (Bottom left)                      Vegetables (Bottom right)