People for Bees
The Irish wildlife trust are running a People for Bees project across the country once more in 2019. With People for Bees we deliver accessible talks on bees, their identification and how to create bee friendly habitats.
This training includes practical outdoor sessions where participants practice field skills like bee identification, bumblebee monitoring and biodiversity record taking. The project is aimed at community groups and members of the public in every province of Ireland.
The Irish Wildlife Trust works closely with the National Biodiversity Data Centre to support the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan and the Bumblebee Monitoring Scheme. With the new skills learnt through our People for Bees programme, participating groups have the knowledge and confidence to start carrying out bee population monitoring and habitat creation in their communities, thus completing two of the objectives of the All Ireland Pollinator Plan – “Making Ireland more pollinator friendly” and “Bee population monitoring”.
All-Ireland Pollinator Plan
In 2015 Ireland, North and South, developed a strategy to address pollinator decline and protect pollination services, the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan.
Sixty-eight governmental and non-governmental organisations agreed a shared Plan that identifies 81 actions to make Ireland pollinator friendly.
You can take part, using the guides and resources provided by the National Biodiversity Data Centre for your garden, school, local community group or council and map those actions on the online mapping system, Actions for Pollinators, to help track the build-up of food and shelter in our landscape.
The dawn is smiling on the dew that covers
The tearful roses; lo, the little lovers
That kiss the buds, and all the flutterings
In jasmine bloom, and privet, of white wings,
That go and come, and fly, and peep and hide,
With muffled music, murmured far and wide.
Ah, the Spring time, when we think of all the lays
That dreamy lovers send to dreamy mays,
Of the fond hearts within a billet bound,
Of all the soft silk paper that pens wound,
The messages of love that mortals write
Filled with intoxication of delight,
Written in April and before the May time
Shredded and flown, playthings for the wind’s playtime,
We dream that all white butterflies above,
Who seek through clouds or waters souls to love,
And leave their lady mistress in despair,
To flit to flowers, as kinder and more fair,
Are but torn love-letters, that through the skies
Flutter, and float, and change to butterflies
Hover Flies, such as the this one above, look at the world in quite a different way than humans do. The structure and function of a flies eye are completely different from ours, and so they see shapes, motion and color differently. Flies are also able to see light in a way humans cannot.
Structure of a Compound Eye
Compound eyes are made up of thousands of individual visual receptors, called ommatidia. Each ommatidium is a functioning eye in itself, and thousands of them together create a broad field of vision for the fly. Each ommatidium is a long, thin structure, with the lens on the outer surface of the eye, tapering to a nerve at the eye’s base. When the ommatidium receives light, it is filtered through the lens, then a crystalline cone structure, pigment cells and visual cells. Every ommatidium has its own nerve fiber connecting to the optic nerve, which relays information to the flies brain.
Flies Can’t Focus
A human’s eye is attached to muscles that allow it to move, expanding the field of vision and making it possible for the eye to gather more information about its surroundings. Instead of moving their eyes, flies receive information from several different points simultaneously. A flies eyes are immobile, but because of their spherical shape and protrusion from the flies head they give the fly an almost 360-degree view of the world. In a human eye, the pupil controls how much light comes into it, which is focused by the lens onto the retina. The retina then relays information to the brain via the optic nerve. Because fly eyes have no pupils they cannot control how much light enters the eye. With no control over how much light passes through the lens, the fly cannot focus the image it sees. Flies are also short-sighted — a visible range of a few yards is considered good for an insect.
The Mosaic Effect
The best analogy to describe a flies vision is to compare it to a mosaic — thousands of tiny images convalesce, and together represent one visual image. Each one of these pictures represents information from the fly’s individual ommatidium. The effect is much like how we see stippling or newspaper print — up close the image is a lot of tiny dots, but take a step back and it’s a complete image. The more ommatidia a compound eye contains, the clearer the image it creates.
There’s a reason why flies are especially jumpy creatures that take off at the slightest flinch. A flies vision is nowhere near as clear or effective as a human’s, but it’s especially good at picking up form and movement. As an object moves across the fly’s field of view the ommatidia fire and stop firing. This is called a flicker effect. It’s similar to how a scrolling marquis works — with lights turning on and off to give the illusion of motion. Because a fly can easily see motion and form, but not necessarily what the large moving object is, they are quick to flee, even if the moving object is harmless.
Flies have limited color vision. Each color has its own wave frequency, but flies have only two kinds of color receptor cells. This means they have trouble distinguishing between colors, for instance discerning between yellow and white. Insects cannot see the color red, which is the lowest color frequency humans can see. However, houseflies have the ability to see polarized light, but humans cannot differentiate between polarized and unpolarized light. Polarized light is light in which the waves travel only in one plane.
To be an Insect ?
Very often when I am out in our local woodlands with a Macro lens, I like to get in close and find all kinds of Insects to photograph. Its like a completely different universe down at this level, I find that I also end-up studying what these little creatures are doing in-order to keep existing day to day.
I often wonder how they see the same world that we share with them, what perspective they have on life without our daily activities and life styles.
Life without News and Media communication, life without TV or Radio and the latest phone, Life without Cars or Vans and Motorways – No Banks or need for Money with Tax to pay.
I wonder if we could even for one moment, a single day, begin to understand just how much of life in our world exists without all the things that we surround ourselves with, thinking that we actually need then in order to exist?
I also wonder when capturing nature with a camera, if its possible at all to capture these questions, to get across the true existence of a bee or a hover-fly, not only showing the outwards wonder of these insects but capturing the life that they are actually living ?
At this time of year our local woodlands are full of wildlife with the insects at the height of their activities.
I was lucky enough to capture this Predatory Sawfly, yesterday evening, just while there was enough sun-light left to help get a bright image 🙂
Sawfly is the common name for insects belonging to suborder Symphyta of the order Hymenoptera. Sawflies are distinguishable from most other hymenopterans by the broad connection between the abdomen and the thorax, and by their caterpillar-like larvae. The common name comes from the saw-like appearance of the ovipositor, which the females use to cut into the plants where they lay their eggs. Large populations of certain sawfly species can cause substantial economic damage to forests and cultivated plants.