Mason Bees

An often-heard concern each spring and summer is “bees are destroying my house!” Residents of older buildings will notice bees industriously excavating their south-facing brickwork, and understandably worry that this will compromise the building.

These bees are one of the several species of mason bees in the UK. The commonest is the red mason bee (Osmia bicornis). The red mason bee (like most bees) face a range of pressures, including habitat loss, pesticides, disease and climate change. They are hugely important pollinators of our crops and flowers, the red mason bee being particularly effective at pollinating fruit trees.

Unlike honeybees and bumblebees, mason bees are ‘solitary’, meaning neither living in colonies nor having workers. Once mated the females cleans out an existing hollow (e.g. gaps in window frames, roof tiles or airbricks ) or excavates one from soft mortar or sandy material.

Red mason bee

Within these tunnels she moulds a series of cells, laying an egg in each, fills with pollen and finally sealing with mud. Over the year, eggs develop via larvae and pupae into an adult bee – digging their way out the following spring to begin the cycle again.

Most of the time, the effect of mason bees is inconsequential. They are often attracted to a wall because its’ mortar is very old and/or in poor, soft condition. In very large numbers however (and/or with unmaintained pointing) they can lead to significant damage, particularly if there is water ingress.

Why not try to give them an alternative nesting place besides your house by installing a bee hotel. These need to be in a sunny sheltered spot, > 1m off the ground and near a rich source of flowering plants.

INVERTEBRATE SURVEYS: Ask us about our specialist site surveys for insects, arachnids and molluscs etc., including river and coastal habitats.

What to do if you find a stag beetle

During work, tree surgeons ( especially while removing decaying tree stump) sometime find large black beetles. They may be concerned that they are Greater Stag Beetle Lucanus cervus and want to know what action to take to protect them.

Greater Stag Beetles are protected against sale in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 and are also a Priority Species under the NERC Act and an Annex II European Species.  They do occur in Norfolk, but are much commoner futher south in Ipswich and Suffolk.

Often though they will be stag beetles but the easily confused Lesser Stag Beetle Dorcus parallelipipedus , which is more widely distributed.

Lesser stag beetle Lucanus cervus

Decaying wood is important to all mini-beasts, especially in the “tidier” urban areas like Norwich.  An easy approach if possible is to reduce any stump in large sections and re-sited somewhere safer (something the lesser stag beetle colony will appreciate).

If you do find any text a photograph to us and we are happy to identify for you and let you know what to do.

We are also happy to carry out full invertebrate surveys of sites and make recommendations for managing them for charismatic stag beetles.

Winter Newsletter 2017-2018

Another busy year at Norfolk Wildlife Services, with survey work across Norfolk for a huge variety of projects. Read highlights about how we helped our clients, the wildlife we have seen in our most recent winter newsletter in download here!

Alternatively you can select individual articles from this newsletter below!

Winter 2017/2018 newsletter

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We hope you enjoy reading our newsletter.

Keep in touch with us if you need advice or protected species surveys undertaking for the spring ahead. You can contact us here.

 

 

 

Invertebrate survey successes for Cley Marshes

coastal lagoon

Ben Christie sampling lagoonal invertebrates

FOLLOW-UP SURVEY ON TRUST’S NEW COASTAL LAND REVEALS IMPORTANT INVERTEBRATES

Our follow-up survey on Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s new marsh at Cley has found five invertebrate species of conservation importance, including lagoon sand shrimp Gammarus insensibilis (legally protected) and mud snail Ecrobia ventrosa.

The Trust commissioned a specialist baseline study on their new land at Cley Marshes when they purchased it in 2014. This was surveying the plants and invertebrates in the site’s ditches, dykes and scrapes.

Since then, the Trust has carried out extensive work on the marsh to convert it from wildfowling ponds to a nature reserve and wanted to repeat the surveys. The plan was to compare with the 2014 baseline and identify any changes resulting from the work.

Twelve sample ditches and lagoons sites from the 2014 survey were re-surveyed for aquatic invertebrates, following the same methodology. For each, we took two dip-net samples to collect a crosssection of the aquatic invertebrates in the water: one in underwater vegetation near the shore; and one reaching out into the depths of the open water.

Ben Christie, our invert specialist said: “By first grouping inverts into taxonomic orders and then using specialist microscope keys for identification, we were able to efficiently identify the specialist communities for every sample site. This allowed both a direct comparison of communities in 2014 and 17, but also showed distributions for five invertebrate species of conservation importance.

“Norfolk Wildlife Trust can now fully assess the benefits of their management on invertebrates as well as the birds and other wildlife who are dependent on them in the food chain.”

 

 

Bittern’s Breakfast and Avocet’s Lunch

Ever wondered what Cley’s birds eat for brekkie and lunch ?

Find out by joining us at Cley Marshes on Thursday 17th September. On this full day workshop, we will be looking at what delicacies the bitterns, avocets and other waders, wildfowl and gulls dine on at Cley Marshes in restaurants such as saline pools, reedbed and mudflats, and how coastal ecology provides the menus.

After a morning classroom briefing on coastal ecology and birds, and some “here’s some we prepared earlier” tastings, we will be ‘grubbing’ about in the marshes in a “behind-the-scenes” practical session to look for delicacies on the menu for birds. We will test various sampling methods using nets, forks, spades, buckets and sieves.  Getting covered in mud optional – and sandwiches are available instead of eating the avocet’s lunch !

There will be an afternoon session to examine samples upclose in the lab for a gourmet –
session separating food into their main taxonomic groups and training in using keys to
identify as far as possible.

If you want to see the difference between a ragworm and a lugworm – and a goby and a blenny – and to know a bit more about what Cley’s bird eat, this is a course for you.

The workshop will be lead by Norfolk marine wildlife expert, Rob Spray, who is an enthusiastic and entertaining tutor, ably assisted by NWS invert expert Ben Christie.

STOP PRESS : Ben Moore will present a summary of his thesis on the changes to the marsh invert community due to the storm surge.

Workshop Tutors: Rob Spray, Ben Christie

Date and Time: Thursday 17th September 2015, 10:30 am – 4:00 pm

Location: Cley Nature Reserve

Cost: £75 plus V.A.T., or £45 plus V.A.T. for concessions, including lunch.

Booking: To book a place, contact Ben Christie at Norfolk Wildlife Services by emailing benc@norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk, or by telephoning 01603 625 540.

See also http://www.environmentjob.co.uk/courses_events