At Thomas Hardye’s School on Monday, the Lecture Theatre was packed for a lecture by Professor Dave Goulson of Sussex University on Bumblebees. As usual, Dave gave a very good lecture, despite using Powerpoint, active and interesting.
He did mention honeybees briefly at the start, also solitary bees such as masonry bees and leaf cutters but concentrated on bumbles. He described how his students had used specially trained dogs to find bumble bee nests with not too much success, the student eventually being better than the dogs! In the question session at the end I mentioned Prof. Jerry Bromenshenk’s method of training honeybees to find mines, or drugs and suggested that Dave trains honeybees to find bumblebee nests.
When bumblebee nests were found, they were monitored by web cameras and we were shown a film of a great tit nabbing the bees. Different birds have different methods some take the head off the bee and eat the contents of the thorax while others refer to devour the abdomen.
Bumbles are under threat because of industrial agriculture/monoculture and the use of insecticide and we were recommended to do what we could by growing bee-friendly plants in our own gardens and also encouraging larger landowners such as local councils to do the same.
Dave kept us entertained for over an hour and afterwards sold a lot of his books to us.