BEE MISCELLANY – (from South Notts Local Group Newsletter)

There are some 20,000 separate species of bees worldwide, all of which provide a greater or lesser pollination service on which we depend for food. In the UK, there are around 270 species, which may come as a surprise to some, for whom Honey and Bumblebees comprise ‘our’ bee population: in fact, there is one species of Honey Bee, 24 species of bumblebees and around 250 species of solitary bees, many of which, in spite of their name, live in colonies. There are mason bees, mud bees, plasterer bees, leafcutter bees, mining bees, scissor bees and more, including the wonderfully-named Pantaloon Bee.

Some bee species are more abundant and widespread than others, with Honey Bees and the more common bumblebees most numerous; the Shrill Carder bee and Giant Yellow bumblebee the rarest. Bees exhibit the most extraordinary behaviours, perhaps none more so than the Red-tailed Mason Bee Osmia bicolor, the female of which uses empty snail shells for nesting. Having found a suitable shell she will turn it to a position that prevents rain getting in (quite something, given their relative sizes) and lay up to five eggs in it, each in a separate brood chamber partitioned with chewed grass and soil, each chamber stocked with pollen and nectar. She then seals the shell nest with thisnpaste, and camouflages the nest, carrying in long pieces of grass and twig and pieces of dead leaf. She will repeat this five or six times. The eggs hatch and pupate in the shell, emerging in the following spring. You can find out more about this incredible insect, and watch a video of its amazing behaviour here at

Bumblebees were given the generic name Bombus in 1802, based on the Latin word for buzzing or humming. The name ‘bumblebee’ is itself a compound of ‘bumble’ and ‘bee’, where ‘bumble’means to hum or buzz. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) tells us the first use of ‘bumblebee’ was recorded in 1530, but that it was predated by the word ’humblebee’, which was first recorded in 1450, and which clearly remained in common use for centuries; even Charles Darwin in On the origin of species (1859), like many of his scientific contemporaries, called them ‘humblebees’. Writing in the Guardian in 2010, Richard Jones suggested that “Darwin would have called them humblebees because, as they fly, they hum.”

Writing on the Bumblebee Conservation Trust website, Katy Malone says: “So, when did we even start calling them bumblebees? It’s probably much more recent than you think. Up until around 1910 they were known as humblebees. By the 1950s we called them bumblebees, possibly thanks to a story by Beatrix Potter who wrote a story which included Babbity Bumble who caused trouble by making mossy nests in the back garden of Mrs Tittlemouse. Naughty Bumble!”

Incidentally, back in the 18th century a bumblebee was known as a ‘dumbledor’, thought to be the inspiration for J K Rowling’s Professor Dumbledore. (“dumble” probably imitating the sound of these insects, while “dor” meant “beetle”. Webster Dictionary 1913).

Bumblebees are much-researched insects, with the latest revelation being that they “can teach others to master complex tasks, and display a level of social learning traditionally thought exclusive to humans”.

An article on the BBC News website here describes the latest research from Queen Mary University London which saw Buff-tailed bumblebees Bombus terrestris learn to solve problems and pass their knowledge onto others. The article states ”It is the first time scientists have seen this behaviour in insects” and that “Researchers say this reveals evidence of a kind of bee ‘culture’”.

Queen Mary University London clearly has an affinity with bumblebees. In 2017, BBC News reported that “a species of bumblebee is proving that, despite having a brain the size of a poppy seed, they can also play football…” A link to the article is available here.


There are plenty of other insects that can quite easily be mistaken for bees: hoverflies, wasps, sawflies, and more. One particular example, described by the Natural History Museum as “a tiny, fluffy, flying narwhale” can be found flying now: the Bee-Fly. Although it resembles a bee, it is in fact a fly (it has only one pair of wings, unlike bees which have two). What it does have though, and what makes it look so distinctive, is a long lance-like appendage carried out permanently in front. To some this resembles a sting, but it is actually a proboscis which it uses to probe deeply into flowers for nectar, flowers that many other bees cannot reach.

Like the Mason Bee described earlier, a female Bee-Fly has its own idiosyncratic approach to egg-laying. She moves her abdomen to coat her eggs in sand and gravel before flying over a solitary bee’s nest where she hovers and flicks out the eggs, hoping they will land and hatch near or, ideally, in the nest. On hatching, Bee-Fly larvae parasitise the bee’s nest, eating both bee grubs and the pollen left for them; as part of this process, they go through a second metamorphosis, which is very rare in insects.

You can find out more about these fascinating creatures here .

Chris Overton

Tree Planting exercise at East Bridgford

A farmer in East Bridgford who is interested in improving biodiversity: They are planning on planting a new 6 acre wood on the 6th and 7th January. 9am-3pm.  East Bridgford. Volunteers are needed to help with the and very welcome to drop in or go home at any point. Bring a spade if you have one. Refreshments available ….. tea, coffee, cake.

If you let us know if you can support this initiative please contact Springdale Farm, East Bridgford.  07592233575. Harvey Pickford. Gives us an idea of boots on the ground!

Grizzled Skipper Project 2023/2024 Work Party Programme

Sunday 19th November – Granby Disused Railway – hay raking/ maintenance of egg laying sites.

Tuesday 28th November – Saxondale Disused Railway Spur – hay raking/ scrub clearance.

Sunday 10th December – Grange Farm, Normanton on Soar – scrub clearance/ bare earth creation.


Sunday 14th January – GCRN, Lime Sidings to Barnstone Tunnel – maintenance of egg laying sites/ scrub clearance.

Tuesday 23rd January – Flawborough Triangle – scrub regrowth clearance & treatment/ bare earth creation.

Sunday 4th February – Newstead & Annesley Country Park – scrub clearance.

Tuesday 20th February – GCRN, Rushcliffe Halt & Cutting – maintenance of egg laying sites/ scrub clearance.

Sunday 3rd March – Flawborough Footpath – scrub clearance and scallop creation/ bare earth creation.

Tuesday 12th March – Grange Farm, Normanton on Soar – scrub clearance/ bare earth creation.

If you want more details contact Notts Biodiversity Action Group Officer

Rushcliffe Borough Council Free Tree Scheme

is open to all residents. So far this year some 700 trees have been allocated, but RBC still have some 300 that can be handed out. (Hazel, Crab Apple, Wild Cherry and Rowan). The final date for applications is 30th Sept and the trees will be despatched between Dec 2023 to Feb 2024. For more details go to

Rushcliffe has been running this scheme now for some six years and circa 10,000 have been distributed in that time. Parish Councils can also apply for up to 10 trees (I think) under a different version of the scheme.

Rushcliffe Nature Conservation Volunteer Forum 2023

The Forum is scheduled for Sat 7th Oct at Upper Saxondale Community Hall 11.15 am to 4 pm  (lunch provided). The overall theme for the day will be Community Action for Wildlife, plus an update on the Rushcliffe Nature Conservation Strategy, followed by a visit to the Saxondale Nature Reserve and Orchard.
This is open to anyone engaged with wildlife and nature conservation in Rushcliffe  so please forward it onto other membefrs of your group.
Look forward to seeing you there.
Gordon Dyne –  Chair RNCSIG

2023 Celebrating Rushcliffe Awards

Nominations are now open for the 2023 Celebrating Rushcliffe Awards, which celebrates the Borough’s wonderful volunteers, businesses, clubs, organisations, environmentalists, sports clubs and athletes, and the best of its health and wellbeing and food and drink sectors. From our point of view the important category is

  • Environmental Group or Project of the Year – Acknowledging individuals, organisations or projects that have an impact in making Rushcliffe a ‘greener’ place. This could include promoting nature conservation, reducing waste, improving energy efficiency, water conservation or improving quality of life for the people of the Borough

You can make nominations via this link  

You can also make your nomination by phone by calling 0115 914 8555, Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. Please note the deadline for nominations is 11pm on Sunday 15th October.


Wilwell Walk Rescheduled

NOTE this walk is recscheduled to Sat 12th Aug – Wilwell Farm Cutting in Late Summer – A stroll round the reserve to look at the sites natural history with Gordon the Warden. Meet 10 am at the Wilwell car park on the left, just before the ring road bridge on the B680 between Ruddington and Wilford (look out for reserve sign). Post Code for approx location NG2 7UT, Just Three Words = home, news, fuzzy Need more info contact

Strange World of Fungi

Listened to an episode of “The Infinite Monkey Cage” (BBC Radio Four) about Fungi (listen to it on BBC Sounds). But the edited highlights are

The earliest fossils of fungi date to 1 bya, therefore Fungi seem to have been around before plants and animals had eveolved, Indeed Fungi are held to be closer to animals than plants and there are an estimated 3 to 6 million species on the planet (barely 10% have been documented). Fungi evolved in the icean and may have moved onto the land alongside plants, indeed may have made it possible for plants to exist on land. There are plants dated to 425 mya that show fungal connections. Fossil fungi have been found the size of a house.

The DNA of fungi is as diverse as that of a Flea and an Elephant and fungolgists have somewhat implausibly identified 23,000 different ways fungi might go about reproducing ! A distinguishing feature of Fungi is that they put themselves into their food, whereas plants and animals put food into themselves.

I have mentioned before how fungi can be active predators by setting traps and “hot pursuit, but to these we can add “harpooning” nematodes and poisoned baits. Alternatively there are parasitic fungi that take control of an insect hosts, in effect the zombie insect becoming part of the fungus.

Mere Meadow, Bradmore

An interesting new initiative by local Bradmore residents Graeme and Eileen Radcliffe has been a while in the planning, but the initial phase has now begun with the rewilding of Mere Meadow at Bradmore. Horses have been moved to other fields in the village, public footpaths mown and the central area left to nature, whilst awaiting seeding of additional native meadow plants and flowers at the appropriate time. Care will be taken not to disturb the surrounding hedgerows, which support a variety of birds.

The next phase will be the pond and surrounding shrubs and trees. A key element will be an island in the middle of the pond to encourage wildfowl to nest and bring up their yioung in comparative safety! Another part of this project will be a small number of memory benches, so that local residents and walkers may listen to birdsong and relax and quietly enjoy the calming sound of nature.

The Radcliffe`s are fortunate to have advice on their plans from knowledgeable local residents who have studied the local bird life and evaluated the meadow and hedgerow flora, whilst another resident is a wetland specialist. But in addition they will be talking to Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust and other similar bodies to provide expert advice and potentially explore what grants may be available.

The meadow is on a public footpath and visitors are welcome. For information you can incorporate the site in a walk– either along the footpath from Rushcliffe Country Park to Bradmore and then straight down the lane opposite the exit from the footpath or from Bunny up the Green Lane to Bradmore and the meadow is on your left just before you reach the village – look for footpath gate.

This link is to an info pack produced by the Radcliffes`s Mere Meadow info pack