Archivos de Diario para diciembre 2022

04 de diciembre de 2022


My Bee Hotel.

The usual collection of critters were loaded in November but in this post I would like to document a new area of interest, viz. my Bee Hotel.

In March 2022 my daughters gave me a Bee Hotel for my birthday. I spent the winter reading up and looking for a suitable place to position it. Not being able to find a suitable place in the garden, I decided on my patio table.

In order to protect the Bee Hotel from the weather I took an old wooden wine box and gave it three coats of a clear varnish. This I positioned on the patio table facing East. I weighed it down with some stones so that it would not be shifted by wind during a storm. I then placed the Bee Hotel inside the box. I numbered the holes from 1 to 19 starting at the top, adding L (left), M (middle) and R (right) in order to be specific. I thought this position would be good as the patio gets morning sun and is under cover. The table height is also convenient for observation and photography.

The first visitor was a Leafcutter Bee; Genus Megachile.
It spent some time exploring the different sized holes and then settled down to nesting. I watched it come and go, sometimes with pollen, sometimes with bits of leaf. I also watched it clearing out holes as if to make them more comfortable or usable. She would enter head-first and then after a time would emerge, turn around and re-enter the hole tail-first. I also noticed that she spent a night in hole 7R. I haven't seen her for a few days now so maybe her work is done.
As at 2/12/2022:
8R used and closed with leaf pieces.
7M used but not closed.
6R and 9R were also used.
9M was used and closed.

The second bee to visit was a Masked Bee; Genus Hylaeus.
This bee also explored several holes before settling on 2L to nest. This hole has now been closed with the "cellophane-like" material referred to in the literature. Both 2M and 12R have been used but not yet closed. Of course I cannot know if it is the same individual or if multiple bees are using the hotel.

On 18.10.2022 I noted a wasp (Genus Chalcididae) at hole 2L.
Being parasitic, maybe it was looking for a victim. I have only noted one visit by this wasp.

A second wasp (Genus Trypoxylon) arrived at the hotel on 1.12.2022 and started nesting.
It explored several hole then used 11M and 12M both of which are now closed with what looks like mud. This wasp parasitises spiders but does nest in cavities.

Summary as at 3.12.2022
Megachile Bee: 8R; closed with leaf.
Hylaeus Bee: 2L, 9R and 9M closed with "cellophane"; 2M and 12R still in use.
Trypoxylon Wasp: 11M and 12M as well as 7M and 8M now closed with mud.

Seeing the activity at the Bee Hotel I decided to look in the garden for other potential solitary bee nesting places. There is a dead tree stump about 1.0-1.5m high in the garden. I noted in excess of 30 holes in this and decided to watch. I loaded several observations onto iNat.

A small Carpenter Bee (Genus Allodapula):

A Square-headed Wasp (Family Crabronidae):

A Slender Ant (Complex Tetraponera natalensis):

On 22.10.2022 I observed Big-headed Ants trying to gain access to a nest hole occupied by a bee. They were very persistent but the bee blocked the hole with her abdomen ensuring no entry was possible for the ants. Eventually they gave up.

Of the holes that I could inspect closely 8 are occupied.

In my back garden I have two old wooden fence poles. They were left standing after my new neighbour took down the wooden fence and replaced it with an 8 foot pre-fab concrete monstrosity. During winter I drilled some holes of varying size (using the Bee Hotel as a guide) on the east-facing sides of the poles. I was interested to see if any wasps or bees would use these for nesting. However I realised that the poles had been chemically treated, albeit a long time ago, and gave up on that idea as I thought the treatment would repel any would be nesters.

To my surprise I noticed one morning white material stuffed into three of the holes. These appeared to be flower petals and after a day or two they had turned brown. Seven of the holes have been used and closed; 3 with the petals and the other 4 with a white material.

Next to one of the poles is an old rotting section of tree branch. I noticed that this also attracted the attention of a Megachile Bee.

It is going to be interesting to watch what develops further through the summer.

Publicado el 04 de diciembre de 2022 a las 08:55 AM por doug263 doug263 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario


Slime Moulds and Fungi.

During the winter of 2022 I became aware of slime moulds. I don't recall exactly where; perhaps on Facebook. I took some time to learn what I could and then waited for the summer rains to arrive so that I could look for these organisms in the garden. Well the rains came and I went looking.

The first one I found was in leaf litter after extensive rain. To be more accurate it was the fruiting bodies of the slime mould that I saw and photographed. This was identified as Genus Didymium on iNat.

The second I found growing on the underside of a stick I had mounted on my pool fence as a bird perch. It was identified as Genus Arcyria on iNat.

The third was a fairly common one, identified as Ceratiomyxa fruticulosa and known by the common name of Common Coral Slime.
I had seen this in the garden in 2021 without appreciating it for what is is.

I loaded a few more observations onto iNat of what I think are fruiting bodies of slime moulds but have yet to get any sort of confirmation ID. These were growing on an old dead and rotting sick:

These slime mould fruiting bodies are very small; maybe 1-2mm tall and about 0.5mm wide. My standard camera/lens combinations are really not sophisticated enough to capture their true beauty but some amazing photography can be found on iNat, Facebook, Youtube and on internet sites.

While looking for slime moulds I came across a number of interesting fungi as well. I think they are all fungi as I am yet to get identifications on any of these: :

It will be great to get feedback on these observations and I look forward to find more during this 2022 summer rainy season.

Publicado el 04 de diciembre de 2022 a las 10:15 AM por doug263 doug263 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario