IDENTIFYING HORNETS
               FROM SUD OUEST NEWSPAPER ARTICLE
ASIATIC HORNET CRISIS. No region will be spared even north of the Loire and this is getting worse every year. Their progress now reached Belgium and the Netherlands. 
By studying the life cycle of this hornet, we realize that we can act very effectively and individually against the scourge. Indeed, nests built in the year are emptied of their inhabitants in winter because all the workers and males do not survive the winter and die. Only queens and young queens hibernate, in hollow trees, under piles of leaves, holes in walls etc.
They do not come out before February and resume feeding, it is at this moment that we can act, by having in our gardens traps to catch these future founders of nests. 1 Queen = 2 000 to 3 000 individuals.
To make traps, simply collect plastic bottles of mineral water, then drill three holes on the bottle, and fill within 10 centimeters of a mixture of 1/3 of dark beer, 1/3 white wine (to repel bees) and 1/3 of blackcurrant syrup. Just leave these traps in place from mid-February to late April. You can of course extend the operation until the arrival of cold weather.
Change the mixture occasionally and ensure wasps are dead. Thank you for reading and making your traps! 

This is the kind of 'before and after' story that is hard to imagine can be effected in one summer. The last of the vegetable group meetings was able to witness at first hand what was achieved by Meryl and Bob.

To read more about the method they used so successfully click the link below :

https://permaculturenews.org/2013/07/08/an-easy-way-to-start-a-new-permaculturegarden/

PROCESSIONARY CATERPILLARS

Although most pine processionary moths (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) only live one year, some in high altitudes or more northern areas may survive for over two years. The adult moths lay their eggs near the tops of pine trees. After hatching, the larvae eat pine needles while progressing through five stages of development. Initially silken nests are built over the winter, then around the beginning of April, the caterpillars leave the nests in the procession for which the species is known. They burrow underground and emerge at the end of summer. High numbers of adults are produced in years with a warm spring.

Article by Tom Whipple Science Editor, Times Newspaper April 2018

   Just like us, honeybees love going for foreign food. And, just like us, research suggests that all those exotic dishes can play havoc with their digestion.
   Now scientists have said that if we really want to help Britain’s bees stay healthy and in particular to have healthy guts, it is not enough only to plant the flowers that attract them, we should also make sure those flowers are native to Britain. Because while bees might enjoy going for a Mexican or Chinese, they tend to regret their choice of such exciting flowers afterwards.
   “A lot of plant species we grow in our gardens were brought in from South America and Asia,” said Philip Donkersley, from Lancaster University. “This gives the bees this bizarre, weird gut microbiome that we don’t normally see in bees in their natural environment.”
   This is important because gut bacteria are a frontline defence against disease. “In humans, when you get gut bacteria disturbed, it makes room for pathogens to enter. We think the same may be true in bees.”
   For a paper due to be published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, he and his colleagues studied the bacteria on “bee bread” in 29 honeybee hives across the northwest of England. Bee bread is a substance made from pollen, which the bees store and ferment to provide a source of protein. “Bees can’t ferment pollen on their own, said Dr Donkersley. “They need a bacterial community to preserve it, much in the same way we preserve milk in the form of cheese and yoghurt. This bacteria then forms a key source of bacteria in the guts, like probiotic yoghurt with us.”
   His research found that hives in more natural environments, such as broadleaved woodland or acidic grassland as opposed to agricultural monocultures or urban areas, had more diverse bacteria on their bee bread, ensuring healthier guts for the bees. If people do want to encourage bees, while also ensuring that they are healthy, he recommends growing heathers, thistles and cherry trees.

FEBRUARY /MARCH

SPRING ALERT

War on 

Asiatic Hornets