Welcome to Prestwood Nature

Bumblees in Spring - by John Catton

Bumblebee queens are generally the first to emerge from their hibernation - hairy bodies giving them the edge over other insects. The earliest, to be seen in February, is our commonest, the Buff tailed, followed in March by the eponymous White tailed and Red tailed.

In April expect to see the other common species: Garden (she has a second yellow band on her thorax), Common Carder (all over ginger colour) and the Tree (distinctive ginger thorax, black abdomen and white tail).


Solitary Bees in Spring - by John Catton

90% of all bees are “solitary”. Here in the UK we have about 220 species; they don’t live in colonies headed by a queen or produce honey. The earliest species you’ll  see is the distinctive Hairy footed Flower Bee, the female is all black, very hairy and can be easily be mistaken for small bumblebee (The male is larger and brown).

Another, instantly recognisable, is the Tawney Mining Bee, about the size of a honeybee but with lovely foxy red hair.  It’s a mining bee, one of 65 species, the largest genus of bee in the UK.  A third solitary bee, on the wing from April to early June, is the Red Mason Bee. It’s a major pollinator of apple blossom and will definitely be one of the residents in your bee hotel!  

Photos of Garden Bumble and Tawney Mining Bee © Bumble Conservation Trust

Plants to look out for in June

by Karen van Oostrum

Three Plantains (Plantago sp.)

Several species of Plantain can be found in the UK. These plants are united by the fact that the leaves of all species are organised into a basal rosette, and their tiny, petal-less flowers bear conspicuous anthers – and are organised into an elongated inflorescence. The inflorescence sits at the top of a long, leafless stalk. We will look at 3 of the UK species here. Ribwort and Greater Plantain are very common and found throughout the country. These species are mainly wind-pollinated, although some pollination is thought to be carried out by insects. Hoary Plantain is locally common, especially around The Chilterns as it favours chalk grassland. Unusually for the Plantains it is lightly fragranced and thought to be mostly insect-pollinated. All species produce seeds that contain a compound in the seed coat that swells when it comes into contact with water. This forms a sticky mucilage, which means the seeds readily attach to humans and animals, aiding their dispersal.


 

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