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102 Views 4 Replies Last post: Jun 19, 2018 7:58 AM by Vic RSS
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Jun 17, 2018 9:11 AM

What are the bees feeding on in the Laurel tree?

Every time I went near our Laurel tree I could hear buzzing as though near a beehive but couldn't see any concentration of bees.  I could only see see a maximum of 3 bees at any one time (mostly white tailed).  They appeared to be foraging around the underside base of the leaves.  On examination there appears to be a sticky substance there and a dark spot, photo attached.  It looks like a tiny slug like creature, would like to know what it is.

Location is North Wales.

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    Jun 18, 2018 11:36 AM (in response to Vic)
    Re: What are the bees feeding on in the Laurel tree?

    Laurel has extra-floral nectaries which produce nectar which the bees are gathering, There are several theories about the function of these nectaries. See http://www.bee-craft.com/extra-floral-nectaries/

    I don't know if your dark spot is one of these nectaries.

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        Jun 18, 2018 8:51 PM (in response to Vic)
        Re: What are the bees feeding on in the Laurel tree?

        Most Prunus (Laurel is Prunus laurocerasus)  have the extra-floral nectaries and these are found on the underside of the leaf along the midrib in the case of Laurel. More commonly they are found on the leaf petiole near the base of the leaf. I have seen wasps visiting laurel in the spring as well.

         

        In this instance your photo does not show one the nectaries, but I think the dark spot is a scale insect. As with other sap sucking insects they do produce honeydew as a waste product (which still contains sugar) and this could also be attracting the bees.

         

        The honeydew can also drip down on to the foliage below and you can get sooty mould growth on the leaves. As the name suggests this is a black powdery mould which can be fairly easily be rubbed off. The presence and extent of sooty mould growth could help indicate the severity of the scale insect infestation. Check under some more leaves and also the stems for more scales.

         

        A severe infestation may need treating with a suitable systemic insecticide, though of course you must wait wait until the bees no longer visit the plant, or tolerate the scale. I don't know of an alternative treatment except to pick off affected leaves, which may be impracticable.

         

        Regards Lucy

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