Endangered species discovered at Abney Nature Reserve

LOOKS LIKE A BUMBLEBEE?

Yes it does, it had me fooled looking thorugh Bombus pictures to identify it. But those legs are a bit thin for a bee, the eyes too big and (no mistaking) the antennae are too short and stubby.

It's a hoverfly that mimics bumble bees. But it's so much better than most hoverfly bee mimics. It's also very rare.  Last recorded in London in Blackheath in 1966!

This is the rarest thing found at Abney so far and I nearly overlooked it as a bumble bee.

The larvae develop in rot holes high up in old trees (e.g. ash, poplars and beech); more living proof of the importance of Abney's veteran poplars. In fact this species is almost restricted to ancient woodland sites with old beech or poplars. It used to be recorded in London very rarely 1930-1966 at Hampstead Heath, Epping, Richmond Park, etc. It is remakable it has survived in Hackney all these years and it is strong evidence for Abney's SSSI quality deadwood habitat.

All the more reason to stop Sainsbury's trashing Wilmer Place and Abney's boundary veteran poplars.

To object on line now takes only seconds but every extra objection is a vote for Abney's wildlife.

The new planning application is almost identical to the last but they have moved back another 1m from Abney. This is far too little and all the original arguments apply:

  • damage to Abney's veteran poplars
  • destruction of the Abney/Wilmer Place woodland edge
  • shading Abney
  • reducing the visitor experience of Abney
  • over shaddowing ABney's Listed entrance
  • destroying local business in Wilmer Place
  • unsustainable food miles

We won before and we can win again.

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Comment by Tim Evans on June 19, 2013 at 5:29

Hi Lorraine. Bumblebee workers from the same nest do vary a lot in size, e.g. bombus terrestris (buff-tailed) workers vary x8 in mass. There is apparently a lot of debate about adaptive reasons for this and I've just been reading a discussion in Dave Goulson's 'Bumblebees: behaviour, ecology and conservation'; he also covers it in more readable style in his new book 'A Sting in the Tale'. One consistent feature is that in species studied, foragers tend to be the larger workers and the smallest workers seem to remain in the nest all their lives and mind the brood. Among other things, big bees see and smell better simply because they have bigger eyes and more antennal scent receptors. Maybe having a range of sizes means they can forage a range of flowers. Maybe bigger bees can avoid predators; maybe they can fly at lower temperatures. There are quite a few theories and not enough data. All very intriguing.

Russell, that HBP objection is fantastic.

Comment by Lorraine Tillett on June 11, 2013 at 21:45

NIce one, Russell. I have a bumblebee nest in my garden which I haven't satisfactorily identified yet but found a dead Early bumblebee (if Natural History Museum site is to be relied upon) there, too. Do you get very large queen-like bees flying (not just one) at the same time and in the same colony as much smaller bees seeming to issue from the same nest? Can't quite figure it. 

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