Top 10 Bees!

Bees! They are incredible and are a hugely important part of the ecosystem, there are over 200 UK native species but here are my ten favourites!

1) Early Bumblebee -(Bombus pratorum)

This bumblebee has queen bees that emerge earlier than most others, often between March and May. It is a small bee and an important pollinator of soft fruit such as raspberries and blackberries. They nest underground with small colonies of around 100 workers.

Early bumblebee - Photo by Peter Creed

2) Honey Bee – (Apis mellifera)

These are the bees we have to thank for all the delicious honey that we eat. They have been semi-domesticated for thousands of years for that reason. The hive is split into a queen who lays eggs, the workers who look after the young and the drones who are reproductive males

Honey bee - -

3) Small Garden Bumblebee – (Bombus hortorum)

Garden bumblebees are large bees which have long tongues that allow them to visit larger flowers such as foxglove and honeysuckle. They nest in small colonies of 100 individuals.

Small garden bumblebee  - Photo by Orangeaurochs

4) Red-tailed bumblebee – (Bombus lapidarius)

As the name would suggest this bee species has a red tail! Although this tail can sometimes look more orange. They have a preference for thistles, bird’s-foot trefoil and budleia flowers.

Red-tailed bumblebee - Rachel scopes - Rachel scopes

5) White-tailed bumblebee – (Bombus lucorum)

As the name would suggest this social bee species has a white tail! This species is widespread throughout the UK and feeds from early spring to early autumn.

White-tailed bumblebee on bramble - Zsuzsanna Bird - Zsuzsanna Bird

6) Common carder bee – (Bombus pascuorum)

One of the most common social bees in the UK. This species can have a nest of around 200 individuals. They can even be seen feeding up until November!

Common carder bee on aster - Rachel scopes - Rachel scopes

7) Leaf-cutter Bee – (Megachile centuncularis)

This bee is an example of some of the many solitary bees. They famously cut discs out of leaves (they particularly like roses), gluing them together with saliva in order to build the ‘cells’ in which their larvae live.

leaf-cutter bee - Cécile Bassaglia - Cécile Bassaglia

8) Ivy Bee – (Colletes hederae)

These solitary bees nest in loose soil or sand and as the name suggests they feed on mostly ivy.

Ivy bee - Photo by Peter Creed

9) Red Mason Bee – (Osmia rufa)

These are a very common solitary bee and will often build nests in small cracks in walls so are common in urban environments. They do very well in the solitary bee hotels that you can buy for your garden. Their food plants include sallows, fruit trees and oil-seed rape.

Red mason bee - bramblejungle - bramblejungle

10) Ashy mining bee – (Andrena cineraria)

The ashy mining bee is a distinctive little species with monochrome colouring. They can be seen flying between April and July and are another species of solitary bee.

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I hope you can see that bees are a hugely diverse group! They come in all kinds of colours and are extremely important for pollination.

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ThatBiologist Everywhere!







Top 10 UK Trees

Hello! I’m back with another top 10 list, so far I’ve done top 10 Hedgerow plants and top 10 UK birds! For this list all of the trees are UK native species!

  1. Alder (Alnus glutinosa) – Alder is actually a pioneer species as it increases the fertility of the soil. Alder has a symbiotic relationship with with a nitrogen-fixing bacterium called Frankia alni. Fond in the root nodules, the bacterium absorbs nitrogen from the air and makes it available to the tree. Alder, in turn, provides the bacterium with sugars, which it produces through photosynthesis.Image result for Alnus glutinosa
  2. Crab Apple (Malus sylvestris) – I have my own crab apple tree that was given to my parents when I was born which is very special to me! These trees are unique in that they will often grow alone without any other crab apple trees close by! Image result for crab apple tree
  3. Elder (Sambucus nigra) – This tree is fantastic for wildlife. The flowers provide nectar for a variety of insects and the berries are eaten by birds and mammals. Small mammals such as dormice and bank voles eat both the berries and the flowers and many moth caterpillars feed on the foliage.Image result for elder tree
  4. Oak (Quercus robur) – One of my absolute favourite trees so much so I could write this whole post about just Oak! The trees are fantastic for biodiversity when solitary but also as part of forests. They provide fantastic hard wood which is used for all sorts of things and parts of the tree were even used in traditional medicine! Image result for oak tree
  5. White Willow (Salix alba) – All willow trees were seen as trees of celebration in biblical times but over time they are now often used as symbols of mourning. You see this a lot in poetry and literature, for example in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia dies by drowning near a willow tree. Image result for white willow
  6. Yew (Taxus baccata) – I have written about Yew before which goes into more of it’s poisonous nature. Another fact about Yew trees is that given their dense nature they provide fantastic nesting opportunities for many of our smaller uk bird species, particularly the goldcrest and firecrest.Image result for yew tree
  7. Bay Willow (Salix pentandra) – This willow tree has leaves that look like Bay trees hense the name! All willow trees have a history with medicine as Salicilin is found in the bark of the tree. Asprin is derived from this compound but in olden times you could chew on the bark of willow trees to relieve pain!Image result for bay willow
  8. Scots Pine (Pinus sylvestris) – Scot’s pine is the national tree for Scotland and is vital to the unique Caledonian Forest that is a habitat for other rare species such as the red squirrel.Image result for scots pine caledonian forest
  9. Wild Cherry (Prunus avium) – Cherry trees are completely stunning and this species is native to the UK! There blossom is fantastic for nature as it’s early source of pollen and nectar. These trees are often used as ornamental plants but the wood is also very pretty and used to make ornamental pieces.Image result for wild cherry tree prunus avium
  10. Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) – This species of tree was planted as protection against witches because this tree has red berries and the colour red was considered the best colour for fighting evil. This species grows well in high altitudes and the wood is strong and hard which makes it great for making furniture.

Image result for rowan tree

I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick romp through some UK trees! The woodland trust has lots of fantastic information on different tree species and where to find them if you are looking for more!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




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Top 10 UK Birds

Hello! Today I want to introduce you to some of my favourite bird species. Birds are just the most fascinating things to watch and ever since my parents put a bird feeder in their garden I’ve learnt a lot about the different bird species. So without further a do here are 10 of my favourites!

  1. Barn Owl (Tyto alba) – Barn Owls are my favourite owl, aside from being the most beautiful owl they are also impressive hunters with incredible hearing. This hearing means they can catch prey with sound alone! Barn owl hovering
  2. Robin (Erithacus rubecula) –  Male robins can actually be quite an aggressive and territorial bird with other birds which can lead to fatalities. Over winter each robin will have a territory of approximately half a hectare. Robin on flower pot
  3. Buzzard (Buteo buteo) – These birds are one of the most widespread in the UK and can live up to 12 years old. They are an amazing bird of prey and if ever you get a chance to see them hunting its well worth a watch!Buzzard in flight head on
  4. Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) – These little pond dwelling birds hold a special place in my heart because the lake at Bath Spa University had loads of them. They were the first bird species I could properly identify. I mean it also helps that they are adorable! Image result for moorhen
  5. Swan (Cygnus olor) – I feel like this list wouldn’t be complete without Swans. Again there was a resident pair at Bath Spa Uni that had signets ever year. They were very protective of their nests as swans are and I once had to run defence for my friend who was working on the lake and distract the swan!Mute swan swimming
  6. Crow (Corvus corone) – I have had my issues with crows in the past but they still are incredibly intelligent animals! They can recognise faces and even hold grudges! Image result for carrion crow
  7. House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) – Sparrow populations have declined by up to 62% in the last 25 years and now they are on the IUCN red list. House sparrow (female)
  8. Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) – These are undeniably one of the most stunning bird species on this list and can be seen almost everywhere in the UK apart from the very north and west of Scotland.Image result
  9. White-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)- This is the largest UK bird species and went extinct in the 20th century from hunting and egg-collecting but has since been reintroduced. They are truly fantastic birds of prey and stunning to watch. Image result for white tailed eagle uk
  10. Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) – Another beautiful little bird that are a delight to sit and watch. In the winter they have family flocks that can be up to 20 birds in size!

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this little foray into the avian world! What’s your favourite bird let me know in the comments!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!




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