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Beekeeping, Birds, Books, Articles, TV and/or Rants

The Bee du Jour



Colletes Hederae By Hectonichus (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Philip Strange led the way, and others just followed in his wake, the latest the Autumn Watch crew.  Yes, Autumn Watch 2014 has jumped on the ivy bee bandwagon. Of course, they didn’t add much to Philip’s informative posts and photos. But, as much as it pains me to admit it, they did outdo Philip in one area: the mating footage. Apparently, the males are so gagging for the solitary female bees emerging from their little sand caves, that they are prone to pig-piling on top of her (a la frogs in a pond). In one scene, a ball of writhing bees tumbles down a dune cliff, oblivious apparently to the sudden change of locale. Unfortunately, you will have to catch up with Autumn Watch 2014 on the BBC iPlayer if you are in the UK, in your imagination if you are from anywhere else.

Did someone say ‘Autumn Watch’

You brave band of brothers and sisters who read this blog with any degree of regularity will know that any mention of a season with ‘watch’ at the end of it will instantly provoke a tirade from me, especially concerning gender bias and science. Yes, Autumn Watch 2014 did start last night, yes I did watch it (although we do watch it on recording to fast forward through the more rant-provoking parts). I am going to try my darndest not to rant. After all, I don’t have to watch it, do I? I don’t have to witness the near orgasmic obsession with the male animals whether they be ducks or rutting deer; the spurious mention of statistics and research without any context (‘controversial comorants’? I had to look that up), do I? There, I feel better for not having subjected you to that (they do have a rat cam this year, which is different from their usual/rutting deer/otter/starling murmuration ).

From rutting bees to eating bees

“It never saw us sitting here.” By Pierre Dalous on 28 May 2012. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pair_of_Merops_apiaster_feeding.jpg

Sorry, it’s not all rolling around in sand dunes for bees. It’s a rough world out there. And sometimes you clock it by means of a garden spider (also featured on Autumn Watch making a quick meal of a bee***). And sometimes you have a more colorful end, in this instance provided by Merops Apiaster. Ever heard of them? Nope, me neither.  According to the Guardian in an article published in September

Exotic bee-eaters have had their best ever breeding attempt in the UK with eight chicks fledging from two nests, conservationists said.

Two pairs of the brightly-coloured birds, which are normally found in the Mediterranean, have nested on the Isle of Wight this year.

Now that show I am not going to rant about, located on a site run by that organisation I am not going to rant about (RSPB) is always going on about non-native species which seem to be considered generally a bad thing. Where the heck were they when this breeding attempt was going on? I mean, don’t bees have enough to contend with?

At least they are both, male female, as colorful as each other. Will blow the minds of those presenters and camera people of a certain show that they cannot differentiate between the two. Maybe bee eaters are not such a bad thing after all.

Well, they got to eat too, you know.

Wasps, I mean. They are coming in for a lot of abuse on the British Beekeeping Facebook discussion page, including a disdain of their eating the young still hanging about the house this time of year (or so they were claiming on the BBKA page). Let it not be said we do not do our part to keep these wasps satisfied so they won’t go after honey bees and their own young. Caught this one wandering around my husband’s work bench and thought we would give it a bit of a sugar rush. Indeed, after slurping up the sugary solution, it did seem a bit wobbly on its feet…

This is better than anything those pesky honeybees have

This is better than anything those pesky honeybees have


Um, people, I can't move my legs here!

Um, people, I can’t move my legs here!


***Speaking of garden spiders, the BBC has another nature show on offer tonight, The Spider House, with an actual scientist apparently cavorting about a house that has been purposely let to spiders (in other words a version of our house). Obviously the spider expert could not be left to do presenting duties on his own so he has been paired with Alice Roberts. Now I used to have a lot of time for Alice, particularly liked something she did about wild swimming a few years back. But I went off her when she practically had an orgasm on air at the sight of a male lion in another nature-ish program. It might be a coincidence that the male lion was actually engaged in mating activity with a female lion at the time. Never you fear. The camera person was able to narrow the focus enough so that she wouldn’t clutter the shot. Kind of reminds me of a program I was not going to rant about….


17 thoughts on “The Bee du Jour

  1. beautiful pic.. I enjoy spring watch (ouch) and autumn watch – and any watch that benefits children. I live in France and so far I have seen so little regard for nature it hurts. They hack down trees, shot animals, have no regard in the rural areas for anything other than themselves. Eve

    Posted by E.D. | October 29, 2014, 8:51 pm
  2. Thank you, I feel very flattered to be mentioned in your latest post – and to be linked to Autumn Watch! After I read your post I waited for the call from the BBC but sadly the phone did not ring. I thought Chris might get in touch for some advice but I suppose he has moved on to his next story.

    You are right about the lack of bee sex in my Ivy Bee posts; I think I was a bit late and all the hanky-panky was over by the time I got there. There are some very nice shots of the mating ball on the blog: Bees in a French Garden (https://beesinafrenchgarden.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/la-bourgade-revisited/comment-page-1/). The blog is written by Amelia who, in my opinion, is the doyenne and first kindled my interest in the area.

    Funny you should mention Bee-eaters. My mother, who is aware of my interest in bees, phoned me the other day to tell me about a new threat to the survival of bees, the aforesaid birds. What I didn’t know at the time was that this was actually only a small number of birds. I suppose they might have eaten a significant number of Ivy Bees on the Isle of Wight?

    And finally Alice Roberts. Aaaaaaargh, my blood pressure is going sky-high! I heard a rumour she is planning a new series about bees with close ups of the mating ball?

    Posted by philipstrange | October 30, 2014, 5:15 pm
  3. I thought long and hard about your question, not that I came up with any great insights. I decided eventually that my reaction to Alice Roberts comes from her willing participation in what I see as trivialisation. To be honest I haven’t watched much of her TV work and I haven’t read any of her books but I first came across her when, some years ago, I watched the programme Coast. She would pop up to perform some “sciency” bit and then they would move back to the pretty shots of sea and sand. I found her contributions too lightweight and never really wanted to try more.

    My prejudice was confirmed by reading the Guardian review of her latest programme, Spiderwatch. From the review, I learnt that, for the programme, a disused house was kitted out with many spiders. Alice spent a night “alone” there (there just happened to be a camera crew as well). Now this is not science, it is “sciency entertainment” and that’s what gets to me.

    Posted by philipstrange | November 1, 2014, 3:19 pm
    • I like that phrase-‘sciency entertainment.’ You know, even if these people have terminal degrees in their field, if they are not engaged in any original research, they can hardly be considered scientists, maybe tenuously academics which I consider a different breed. Don’t even get me started on historians, whether they be of the ilk of that great TV historian, Dan Snow, or the likes of a Simon Schama, who at one time must have been a historian, but whose books now are TV tie-ins with complete reliance on secondary sources. Can we call their brand of presenting, ‘history-y entertainment’?

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | November 2, 2014, 11:38 am
  4. Do you like the Royal Institution Christmas lectures? They are given by practising research scientists and the hype is kept down.

    Perhaps the phrase is “historyish entertainment”?

    Posted by philipstrange | November 2, 2014, 3:15 pm
    • Will look out for the lectures. We may have to work on the history counterpart to “sciency entertainment”. Perhaps, “entertainment in a history-like fashion”? Just doesn’t have the same zing as “sciency entertainment”…..

      Posted by mylatinnotebook | November 3, 2014, 2:15 pm
  5. You made me smile. I enjoy a good rant so please do. I also watched said Autumn Watch wishing that the narrative weren’t quite so… so… And I saw said post on BBKA FB page … all good rant-worthy material. Keep up the good work! 🙂

    Posted by Emma Sarah Tennant | November 3, 2014, 2:49 pm
  6. Got to love those bees.

    Posted by lizard100 | November 3, 2014, 10:52 pm

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