a french garden

Je t’accuse!

43 Comments

je t accuse

Je t’accuse!

yes you

Yes, you!

Put it back!

That’s not your bit of grit.  Another bee laboured long and hard to seal up that bamboo tube so it would keep their offspring safe through the cold winter and safely into next summer.

Pollen out

And you!

You are supposed to go and find pollen to take back to your hole – not take it out of someone else’s.

Action in the bamboo tubes

I have been watching my bee hotels lately and was pleased to see lots of little black bees with yellow scopa – a new species for me and my bee hotels!

stop or i will put you back in fridge (2)

Stand still or I will put you back in the fridge!

My new arrivals have some different behavioural traits that we don’t associate with the hard working industrious bee.

I think they are Heriades truncorum and although they look quite cute and are only about 7 mm. long they are of a dubious, moral character.

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Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

43 thoughts on “Je t’accuse!

  1. Oh dear, they take without paying, use without permission – I’m not sure of their name but maybe we should call them human bees 😮

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aha! These look like the ones that are all over the Ice Plant and Hemp Agrimony flowers at the moment….
    I drilled some 6mm holes in one of my blocks and they get filled at around the end of August.
    If these little marvels are still around once I’ve finished harvesting the spuds, I’ll take a closer look at the block.

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  3. Amazing photos!

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  4. Shocking stuff. They’ve obviously figured out there’s no point working for their pollen when they can just steal it from the next door neighbours.

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  5. Life’s rich tapestry! Where there are workers there are also always those you take advantage.

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  6. Keep an eye out for Grass-carrying Wasp Isodonta mexicana too. They are introduced but not invasive. I get a lot of them using the bee hotels in the orchard at this time of year. They are a quite large entirely black wasp, often seen carrying dry grass to stuff in their nest hole, which is stocked with paralysed caterpillars.

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    • I do try and keep an eye on anything that flies near the hotels but I’ve never seen any of the black wasps. Last year I saw gasteruption jaculator which did not surprise me to much as I always see it on the fennel. I also get Cacoxenus indagator and at the moment I have spotted a suspect little black fly but I have not identified this yet. Would the Wasp do any harm? I just let some potter-type wasps use the nests as they seem to cohabit happily with the bees. Amelia

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      • No they won’t do any harm, except to the caterpillars. In my bee hotels they just occupy the vacant holes and even the spaces between canes in the ones that are made of canes rather than drilled. I suspect they catch flies too, as one of the holes was stuffed with a large sarcophagid fly. You will notice if they move in because you start getting holes which appear to be stuffed with dry grass. So far I haven’t managed to get good photos of the wasps themselves though.

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  7. I’ve seen quite a few bees in my garden today – three at the same time, which must be a record!

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  8. Hi Amelia, please explain some more, can you tell me about scopa and going back in the fridge.

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    • The family megachilidae (Megachile, Osmia and a few others) have their pollen collecting hairs under their abdomen – the scopa. Apart from making them incredibly cute it is usually easier to tell the males (who don’t have the hairs) from the females which helps ID. I put the bee into the fridge to cool it down and stop it moving so I could take a close-up picture and measure it. I don’t take too long and it does not harm them. I was a bit upset that these ones upset the life of the bee hotel so I was pretending I would punish it if it moved. Amelia

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  9. They seem to be taking the lazy path to prosperity. I wonder if they’re smart or if they really are lazy.

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  10. Great photos. Those mandibles!

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    • Bees mandibles really are incredible when you think all the things that they can do with them. I have listened to the Anthophora plumipes in our stone wall in the spring scraping out a hole and I have heard other bees doing the same thing inside the wooden bored log in the bee hotels. Amelia

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  11. It’s hard to be cross at their mischievous behaviour – they are cute-looking rascals!

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  12. So intriguing! I’ve always been curious about bees, but husband is allergic so we try to keep a distance. It must be wonderful to watch them so closely – I am enjoying this at a safe distance! from my computer screen!

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    • I think you must be thinking of honey bees as they are the first kind of bees people think about. Honey bees can be aggressive, especially if you disturb their hives. Many solitary bees do not possess stings and I do not know any that are aggressive towards humans. I have never found even honey bees being aggressive to me and I get very close to them to take photographs of them on flowers – I would not get that close to strange honey bees near their hives. You would be quite safe welcoming solitary bees like Osmia to nest in bee hotels. They are very interesting to watch and the solitary bees are great pollinators. My husband is allergic to bee stings too, but he is quite safe with the bee hotels. Amelia

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  13. I am so looking forward to bees in my bee hotel. We put it up too late this year but hopefully next spring.

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  14. I’m not sure about these critters. Though most are welcome, one mustn’t let some guests prey upon others!

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    • I am keeping my eye on them. Unfortunately, this is the first time they have used the boxes and I was not aware of this behaviour so next year I hope I can watch them more closely. I think it is very interesting. Is this how cuckoo bees have evolved? Amelia

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  15. Thank you for telling us about these interesting small bees. Are they found throughout France? They have a very restricted distribution in the UK so I won’t be seeing them down here in the west.

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    • I have seen maps saying that they have been found in 11 departments spread throughout France. They are quite small so I think they could easily be missed except by people who are really interested in them and I don’t think that will be very many :(. They do not have the appeal of bumble bees or butterflies. Amelia

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  16. Came to this post rather late, Amelia. Well worth the wait – made me laugh out loud (or indeed LOL, though not actually ROFL – I’d never do that).

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: It’s still summer in September | a french garden

  18. Pingback: Confusion in the bee hotel | a french garden

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