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Bees like my cotoneaster

wildlife, gardening, environment, Rural living, Pets and Vets
stewamax
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Bees like my cotoneaster

#221609

Postby stewamax » May 14th, 2019, 4:35 pm

While some other plants in the garden look pollen-filled and inviting, bees here ignore them and are absolutely besotted by my stretch of cotoneaster. But when I have a closer look, the latter is still a collection of small round red buds with nothing particularly inviting. Bees can obviously see/smell/sense something known only to them; perhaps cotoneaster is a lighthouse of ultraviolet light...

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#221639

Postby ReformedCharacter » May 14th, 2019, 5:54 pm

stewamax wrote:While some other plants in the garden look pollen-filled and inviting, bees here ignore them and are absolutely besotted by my stretch of cotoneaster. But when I have a closer look, the latter is still a collection of small round red buds with nothing particularly inviting. Bees can obviously see/smell/sense something known only to them; perhaps cotoneaster is a lighthouse of ultraviolet light...


Bumblebees rather than honeybees I would guess, not all pollen is equal as a foodstuff for bees which may explain their preference for Cotoneaster. Some information here:

https://www.conservationevidence.com/in ... study/1584

RC

stewamax
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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#221743

Postby stewamax » May 15th, 2019, 10:24 am

Both - but mainly bumbles.
The sad bit is that I already had needed to remove large swathes of the cotoneaster because of fireblight*, and if the remaining stretch doesn't perk up it will have to go as well to protect my apple trees and 60m of hawthorn hedge.

* - tried treating with Jeyes fluid and with benzalkonium chloride - a waste of time!

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#221831

Postby kiloran » May 15th, 2019, 3:32 pm

I have some Cotoneaster but the bees don't seem to be particularly fussed by it. However, they have taken a great liking to a blue tit nesting box. It's been there for 20 years or more and this is the first year they've taken it over. It's near a garden shed so I have to be a bit wary when going to get my mower.

--kiloran

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#221841

Postby ReformedCharacter » May 15th, 2019, 4:52 pm

kiloran wrote:I have some Cotoneaster but the bees don't seem to be particularly fussed by it. However, they have taken a great liking to a blue tit nesting box. It's been there for 20 years or more and this is the first year they've taken it over. It's near a garden shed so I have to be a bit wary when going to get my mower.

--kiloran

Curious to know... Do they appear to be honeybees? Roughly when did they inhabit the nesting box? It's early - but not impossibly so - for it to be a swarm. If so, you might consider giving your local beekeepers' associations a call, assuming you have one in the area.

RC

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#221846

Postby kiloran » May 15th, 2019, 5:03 pm

ReformedCharacter wrote:
kiloran wrote:I have some Cotoneaster but the bees don't seem to be particularly fussed by it. However, they have taken a great liking to a blue tit nesting box. It's been there for 20 years or more and this is the first year they've taken it over. It's near a garden shed so I have to be a bit wary when going to get my mower.

--kiloran

Curious to know... Do they appear to be honeybees? Roughly when did they inhabit the nesting box? It's early - but not impossibly so - for it to be a swarm. If so, you might consider giving your local beekeepers' associations a call, assuming you have one in the area.

RC

I'm no bee expert, but I would guess they are honey bees. They're constantly on the move so hard to identify. I would guess they started using the nesting box about a week ago. I last got the mower out 2 weeks ago and I don't remember seeing them then. They are about 30m from any house and no kids in nearby gardens so I'm not too fussed about them. Happy to leave them bee :D

--kiloran

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#221858

Postby ReformedCharacter » May 15th, 2019, 5:46 pm

kiloran wrote:I'm no bee expert, but I would guess they are honey bees. They're constantly on the move so hard to identify. I would guess they started using the nesting box about a week ago. I last got the mower out 2 weeks ago and I don't remember seeing them then. They are about 30m from any house and no kids in nearby gardens so I'm not too fussed about them. Happy to leave them bee :D

--kiloran

Thanks. If they are constantly flying in and out and only there a week then it's a pretty good bet you have a swarm of honeybees. If you're happy to Let It Bee then you may have them semi-permanently. I hope they survive because it will in small measure aid the development of bees that can thrive without treatment for the Varroa mite which has been such a problem.

RC

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#226518

Postby Sorcery » June 3rd, 2019, 2:48 pm

ReformedCharacter wrote:
stewamax wrote:While some other plants in the garden look pollen-filled and inviting, bees here ignore them and are absolutely besotted by my stretch of cotoneaster. But when I have a closer look, the latter is still a collection of small round red buds with nothing particularly inviting. Bees can obviously see/smell/sense something known only to them; perhaps cotoneaster is a lighthouse of ultraviolet light...


Bumblebees rather than honeybees I would guess, not all pollen is equal as a foodstuff for bees which may explain their preference for Cotoneaster. Some information here:

https://www.conservationevidence.com/in ... study/1584

RC


We have a cotoneaster and I can confirm that bees love them, both honeybees and bumble bees. I have never seen another plant that attracts them quite so much. The cotoneaster is in an otherwise unpromising north facing location against the house. I thought their attractiveness to bees and the fact that they didn't mind no direct sun, I would try and propagate them. Last autumn I planted some berries directly into the ground with nothing showing so far. This spring I tried cuttings which didn't work either. Maybe I will buy one.

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#226609

Postby Nimrod103 » June 3rd, 2019, 8:51 pm

As a matter of interest, which varieties of cotoneaster are people growing? I used to have cotoneaster horizontalis growing up part of the front of my house, though I cut it down several years ago as it had become an inpenetrable thicket.

I also used to have an eucalyptus tree which was covered in pollinating bees, when it was in flower. I had to cut it down as it grows quickly in the UK climate and was becoming a serious problem.

I think my most bee attracting plants at present are the raspberries in the fruit cage. They always seem to be covered in bees.

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#226627

Postby Sorcery » June 3rd, 2019, 10:06 pm

Nimrod103 wrote:As a matter of interest, which varieties of cotoneaster are people growing? I used to have cotoneaster horizontalis growing up part of the front of my house, though I cut it down several years ago as it had become an inpenetrable thicket.

I also used to have an eucalyptus tree which was covered in pollinating bees, when it was in flower. I had to cut it down as it grows quickly in the UK climate and was becoming a serious problem.

I think my most bee attracting plants at present are the raspberries in the fruit cage. They always seem to be covered in bees.


Sorry no idea what variety. It doesn't grow very tall, it stretches out like a flat table and it seems to have a lot of useless? old growth underneath.

Shopping list :
Another cotoneaster like the existing one.
A eucalyptus tree (aren't these killed by frost?)

oldapple
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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#226629

Postby oldapple » June 3rd, 2019, 10:16 pm

We have the herringbone cotoneaster planted along a 100' long, 6' high retaining block wall (rural area). We try to keep the base clear of the ground to mow underneath and allow space for wild foxgloves to grow along the length as well. Hadn't realised till now it's viewed as invasive in places but it's mesmerising to hear hundreds of bees busily buzzing, totally oblivious to us. Just this week I saw the first ever tiny blue butterfly on it. Robins, wrens, bluetits and blackbirds also regularly hop in through it. We've cut it back quite severely at times but it has recovered well apart from one or two patches which I think got damaged. Second for attracting bees in our garden at the minute are ceonothus and patches of poached egg flowers.

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#226635

Postby Nimrod103 » June 3rd, 2019, 10:38 pm

Sorcery wrote:
Nimrod103 wrote:As a matter of interest, which varieties of cotoneaster are people growing? I used to have cotoneaster horizontalis growing up part of the front of my house, though I cut it down several years ago as it had become an inpenetrable thicket.

I also used to have an eucalyptus tree which was covered in pollinating bees, when it was in flower. I had to cut it down as it grows quickly in the UK climate and was becoming a serious problem.

I think my most bee attracting plants at present are the raspberries in the fruit cage. They always seem to be covered in bees.


Sorry no idea what variety. It doesn't grow very tall, it stretches out like a flat table and it seems to have a lot of useless? old growth underneath.

Shopping list :
Another cotoneaster like the existing one.
A eucalyptus tree (aren't these killed by frost?)


Sounds like Cotoneaster horizontalis, which as Oldapple has pointed out, is regarded as an invasive foreign species, so don't allow it out into the wild.

Some species of Eucalyptus are quite frost hardy. They thrive in cold Tasmania as well as hot Queensland. I live on the Kent/Sussex border. The one I cut down was about 50 feet high, and doubled its girth in 15 years, so I thought I had better get rid of it. The are quite interesting in that young saplings grow tall and spindly to start with, so as to get the foliage above the forest fire line as quickly as possible. In the UK, it is better to chop them off at about 4 feet, so they sprout numerous branches. Don't grow unless you have the space.

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#226886

Postby Sorcery » June 4th, 2019, 4:22 pm

Nimrod103 wrote:
Sorcery wrote:
Nimrod103 wrote:As a matter of interest, which varieties of cotoneaster are people growing? I used to have cotoneaster horizontalis growing up part of the front of my house, though I cut it down several years ago as it had become an inpenetrable thicket.

I also used to have an eucalyptus tree which was covered in pollinating bees, when it was in flower. I had to cut it down as it grows quickly in the UK climate and was becoming a serious problem.

I think my most bee attracting plants at present are the raspberries in the fruit cage. They always seem to be covered in bees.


Sorry no idea what variety. It doesn't grow very tall, it stretches out like a flat table and it seems to have a lot of useless? old growth underneath.

Shopping list :
Another cotoneaster like the existing one.
A eucalyptus tree (aren't these killed by frost?)


Sounds like Cotoneaster horizontalis, which as Oldapple has pointed out, is regarded as an invasive foreign species, so don't allow it out into the wild.

Some species of Eucalyptus are quite frost hardy. They thrive in cold Tasmania as well as hot Queensland. I live on the Kent/Sussex border. The one I cut down was about 50 feet high, and doubled its girth in 15 years, so I thought I had better get rid of it. The are quite interesting in that young saplings grow tall and spindly to start with, so as to get the foliage above the forest fire line as quickly as possible. In the UK, it is better to chop them off at about 4 feet, so they sprout numerous branches. Don't grow unless you have the space.


Well my Cotoneaster horizontalis might be a bit odd, given my attempts at creating another have all failed. Don't think I have seen it naturally self propagate anywhere else in the garden either. It might be different with another specimen so will keep an eye on a new one.
Thanks for the advice re the Eucalyptus, will probably keep it low as you suggest.
I have space near some fruit trees (which don't fruit or the crows get the cherries) where it might create a useful windbreak and additionally feed the bees.

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#228787

Postby scotia » June 11th, 2019, 9:04 pm

Our cotoneaster horizontalis is loved by the bees when in flower, then loved even more by the birds later in the season for its berries. And it propagates freely from its berries - so as well as trimming back the main plant, I have to keep digging up its seedlings. But its perfect against a a wall, and as far as escapees being invasive, I haven't seen the countryside overgrown by them!

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Re: Bees like my cotoneaster

#230979

Postby stewamax » June 20th, 2019, 1:48 pm

The bees have now totally deserted my cotoneaster and migrated en masse to my bank of bluey-violet perennial geraniums. This morning I seemed to have the world's supply of bumbles happily bumbling away all over it.

(Which is fortunate as I am just about to cut down the last of the cotoneaster as the wretched fireblight is still creeping all over it)


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