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The big buzz

Posted by Rose Jun 30, 2010

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Hot news from the Wildlife Garden is that our bee tree is now humming with a new swarm of bees which was introduced about a month ago.

 

Caroline, the garden's manager, told me she's been waiting to see how the bees got on before telling everyone. Actually, they are doing really well and will be a star attraction at the garden's Yellow Book Day this Sunday, 4 July.

 

So 'what's a bee tree exactly?' I hear Pooh bear mumbling in my ear. It's a bbeehive-wildlife-garden-1.jpgee hive that's been cut into an 8-foot high ash tree trunk, pictured left. There are now about 15,000 bees in the hive which also houses eggs, young bees and honey. You can find out more about our bee tree at the event on Sunday. A word of advice, when you visit it, open the bark doors very carefully. And make sure to close them when you've had a look, as bees like the dark.

Another highlight of Sunday's event is the chance to meet our resident beekeeper, Dr Luke Dixon. Luke is an expert in urban beekeeping and helps look after the garden's 2 private beehives, which are also new this year and doing well. He will be holding 2 sessions at 12.30 and 14.00 and visitors can don the protective beekeeping clothing to have a look inside the hives.

 

There may be some Wildlife Garden honey to sample too, yummy!

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Other activities on Sunday include pond-dipping and a guide to the garden's native plants. There will be stalls with refreshments and wild flower plants for sale.

 

By the way, did you know that Melissa is Greek for honeybee?


Check out the Museum's Wildlife Garden

 

If you're interested in beekeeping, have a look at the Beekeepers Association website for some handy hints

 

Find out more about honeybees on our honeybees webpages

 

Thanks to Matt for the bee tree image and to Luke Dixon and Kristian Buus for the recent Wildlife Garden beehive images. Click on the images to enlarge them.

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This Sunday, 27 June, at the Museum we have some real treats for butterfly lovers and insect fans, to mark the final day of National Insect Week.

 

Our brilliant butterfly expert, Blanca Huertas, will be giving 2 free talks in the Attenborough Studio about what it's like to be a butterfly explorer.

 

At our Meet a Butterfly Explorer talks (12.30 and 14.30), Blanca will recap her adventures in Colombia's deepest jungles, tracking down new species. She'll reveal some of the most thrilling butterflies in the world. It's sad to think that butterflies are in decline, but Blanca will also talk about the encouraging things being done for their conservation.

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Claudina butterfly, Agrias claudina, one of the world's most beautiful butterflies, is Sunday's Species of the day

 

Another treat outside on the front lawn, is the experience of 100s of live butterflies fluttering around you at our Butterfly Explorers exhibition. Look out for the pretty African Plain Tiger butterflies that have been populating the butterfly house madly in the last week. The exhibition's outdoor garden is looking especially lovely thanks to the recent sunshine.

 

Also on Sunday, we'll be featuring this gorgeous Claudina butterfly (above) as our Species of the day, which is regarded as one of the world's most beautiful butterflies. Follow our online Species of the day

 

If you're interested in butterflies and insects generally, read our news story about what it takes to Become an entomologist

 

National Insect Week at the Museum

 

Find out about the butterfly's life cycle


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Did you know, an incredible 80% of the world's known species are insects and the UK has about 23,500 different types? Or that stick insects make the perfect pets?

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'I won't scratch the furniture, please can I be your family pet?' Our Insects as Pets event is on Saturday 26 June

It's definitely the small things in life that matter this week. We join other organisations and groups around the country to celebrate National Insect Week, from 21 to 27 June. We have special events going on all week and visitors will be able to meet some of our insect experts and their creepy-crawly companions.

 

Highlights of the week include Thursday night's insect talk, Six-Legged Wonders: The Return on 24 June in the Attenborough Studio, where you'll hear from 3 Museum entomologists who reveal insect truths. The talk also features an insect trivia quiz and the bar is open for drinks outside the studio. Watch out for the deadliest insect, so deadly in fact, it has to be kept in 2 separate bags... and some edible ants. You need to book for the Six-Legged Wonders ticketed event.

 

rose-chafer-Cetonia-aurata-500.jpgMy favourite event planned for Saturday is the Insects as Pets talk, where you'll discover what lovable crawlers stick insects and giant cockroaches can be. So I'm assured. On Saturday, there's also pond-dipping in our Wildlife Garden.

 

Find out about National Insect Week events and activities

 

Read the news story about National Insect Week

 

For events around the country, visit the official National Insect Week website


Watch out for some rare six-legged beauties, like the endangered Rose Chafer beetle, pictured right, in our online Species of the day insect series.

 

Discuss insects in our popular bug forum

 

Click on the images to enlarge them.


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There'll be dancing in the streets and on the Museum lawns this Sunday, 20 June, as visitors and staff join in the celebrations for Exhibition Road Music Day.

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Last year's Exhibition Road revellers enjoying the sounds from the Museum Lane stage

music-day-hands-2009.jpgHere at the Museum, this year you can enjoy the harpist in Central Hall or jig-it-up to spicy jazz and chap-hop from the Museum Lane stage, near the Exhibition Road entrance. We have lots of different musicians performing throughout the day, indoors and outside. Most of the day's events start around midday.

 

Check our Music Day event for details of artists and times.


BBC Blast will also be staging performances from grime collective Roll Deep and other up-and-coming artists.

 

If you're 13-19 years-old you can join some of their creative workshops like a theramin drop-in, or learn about make-up for the stage, film-editing and samba drumming.

 

Some of the sessions are booked up already, but some you can still just drop in to attend. BBC Blast is already at the Museum from now until Sunday.You'll find them in an bbc-blast-cropped.jpgoutside mobile studio at the front of the Museum by the main Cromwell  Road entrance.You can book and find more details on our BBC Blast event details or the BBC Blast website.

 

There are lots of other local museums and cultural institutions taking part in Exhibition Road Music Day, so why not take a look at the website to find out more?

 

Read more about South Kensington's Music Day events and its history on the official Exhibition Road website

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batperson-ally-pally.jpgLondon’s Alexandra Palace Park played host to a Wild Day Out on Saturday 5 June. Natural History Museum and OPAL scientists went on a mission to record as much wildlife as they could in the park over 24 hours, including some strange batmen, like this one. OPAL is the Open Air Laboratories Project network.

 

Over 8,000 people joined in the Ally Pally BioBlitz, making the event a huge success. The final species count is to be confirmed but is expected to be in the region of 700.

 

The bioblitz event was partnered by the BBC who helped to rally lots of local people to assist with pond dips, worm charming, nature surveys and other activities in a bid to record all the plants and animals that live in the park. There were also arts and crafts activities for kids.

 

See some BBC pictures of Wild Day Out

 

For the uninitiated, a bioblitz is a kind of wildlife hunt against the clock, and anyone can join in. It can be a really big event in a large public space or a small one in your garden.


As well as the Ally Pally event, our Museum scientists and OPAL researchers staged another bioblitz at South Devon's Mothecombe Beach on 11 June. Here, local residents, schools and holiday-makers helped scientists record over 700 different species in just 28 hours.

 

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kids-alexandra-palace-bioblitz.jpgBoth bioblitz events are part of our national International Year of Biodiversity in the UK celebrations.

 

There are lots more bioblitzes happening around the country and you can find details on the National Bioblitz Programme 2010 website

 

Find out more about other UK biodiversity events on our Biodiversity is life website

 

OPAL, the Open Air Laboratories Project network, run lots of surveys and citizen science activities you can join in your local area and online. They have a base in our Angela Marmont Centre for UK Biodiversity.


Browse the OPAL website and explore nature

 

Read about a bioblitz in a journalist's back garden conducted by some of our scientists, on the Guardian website


Click on the images to enlarge them.

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Our Wildlife Garden is taking part once again in London's Open Garden Squares Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, 12 and 13 June.

 

Special treats lined up for visitors include the chance to meet a bat expert and to get more acquainted with our family of moorhens (left) and the rest of our busy pond community in the garden.


The Wildlife Garden's freshwater ponds are home to many species of plants and animals. If you're lucky at the weekend, you might spot the little moorhen chicks and azure damselflies competing for attention with the likes of diving beetles and common newts.

 

Our bat expert, Sean Hanna, will be in the garden both days, revealing lots of fascinating bat facts. Incidentally, did you know that brown long-eared bats, like the cutie in the picture below (click to enlarge), have such good hearing they can hear a ladybird walking on a leaf...long-eared-bat-600.jpg

 

Garden photographer Sue Snell will be signing copies of her new book, The Garden at Charleston, on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning at the event. Sue has been photographing this artistic and quintessentially English garden at Charleston, beloved by the Bloomsbury Group, for the last decade,

 

Other highlights of our weekend event will include leaf rubbing and seed identification activities and stalls selling refreshments and wild flowers plants. The event is free.

 

Find out more about the Open Garden Squares Weekend event in the Wildlife Garden and visit the official Museum page on the Open Garden Squares Weekend website

 

Make the most of this weekend to also visit other rarely-open or little-known London gardens. This year there are 200 London gardens taking part in Open Garden Squares Weekend. You can find out who's taking part at the Open Garden Squares website

 

More to follow up online

 

Some bat secrets are revealed on our website.


If you're interested in more pond facts, have a look at our Freshwater ponds webpage


Browse our visitors' Wildlife Garden webpage