The wildflower areas at St Luke’s Campus are looking fantastic.
We have discovered a duck nesting in one of the planters on the Forum North Piazza.
Although this is very exciting, please keep your distance and do not disturb the mother. We will be putting up signs and cordoning off the area to keep her and the nest safe.
We’re looking forward to welcoming some new ducklings to our university family.
The University of Exeter has launched a official podcast called Exeplore and each episode will explore a different topic with students, staff and alumni; aiming to celebrate the richness of life within their global community.
Iain Park, Assistant Director of Grounds, joins them on the most recent episode to discuss why and how the university grounds offer such a great space for students, staff, plants, trees animals, wildlife, birds, and insects to thrive in.
Also discussed is the impact the COVID-19 lockdown had on the grounds in spring 2020.
Listen to the podcast at:
Apple Podcasts http://ex.ac.uk/crr
More information on the Wellbeing Walks that Iain talks about can be found at http://ex.ac.uk/crh
If you’re interested in keeping up to date with what’s going on in the grounds, follow the Grounds Instagram @universityofexetergrounds https://www.instagram.com/universityofexetergrounds/
An update and photos from Drew, one of our amazing Horticultural Apprentices, on the biological treatment being carried out on the Ficus trees in The Forum Street:
“So yesterday at work I got to apply biological controls to our very poorly Ficus trees. They are suffering from a serious bout of Mealybug which suck the sap and are vectors for diseases. To help combat this in an eco-friendly way, we have applied a healthy dose of Australian ladybirds (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) which will spend the next few weeks munching on the Mealybugs and hopefully leaving the Ficus much happier”.
The trees have a Mealybug infestation, so we are introducing predatory insects (Cryptolaemus montrouzieri) to deal with them.
Cryptolaemus are harmless to people, pets and wildlife and will not become a pest in their own right.
By using predatory insects as an organic form of biological control, we are avoiding the use of harmful pesticides.
The fleece coverings have been placed over the trees to keep the process and insects contained.
These information sheets have been produced by our Horticultural Apprentices and will be on display next to the Ficus trees to explain the process to passerbys.
Big bumblebees take time to learn the locations of the best flowers, new research shows.
Meanwhile smaller bumblebees – which have a shorter flight range and less carrying capacity – don’t pay special attention to flowers with the richest nectar.
University of Exeter scientists examined the “learning flights” which most bees perform after leaving flowers.
Honeybees are known to perform such flights – and the study shows bumblebees do the same, repeatedly looking back to memorise a flower’s location.
“It might not be widely known that pollinating insects learn and develop individual flower preferences, but in fact bumblebees are selective,” said Natalie Hempel de Ibarra, Associate Professor at Exeter’s Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour.
“On leaving a flower, they can actively decide how much effort to put into remembering its location.
Bumblebees carry out “learning flights” after leaving flowers (credit: Natalie Hempel de Ibarra)
“The surprising finding of our study is that a bee’s size determines this decision making and the learning behaviour.”
In the study, captive bees visited artificial flowers containing sucrose (sugar) solution of varying concentrations.
The larger the bee, the more its learning behaviour varied depending on the richness of the sucrose solution.
Smaller bees invested the same amount of effort in learning the locations of the artificial flowers, regardless of whether sucrose concentration was high or low.
“The differences we found reflect the different roles of bees in their colonies,” said Professor Hempel de Ibarra.
“Large bumblebees can carry larger loads and explore further from the nest than smaller ones.
“Small ones with a smaller flight range and carrying capacity cannot afford to be as selective, so they accept a wider range of flowers.
“These small bees tend to be involved more with tasks inside the nest – only going out to forage if food supplies in the colony are running low.”
The study was conducted in collaboration with scientists from the University of Sussex.
The bees were observed in greenhouses at the University of Exeter’s award-winning Streatham Campus, and Professor Hempel de Ibarra thanked the university’s Grounds and Gardens team for their continued support.
The study was funded by the Leverhulme Trust.
The paper, published in the journal Current Biology, is entitled: “Small and large bumblebees invest differently when learning about flowers.”
Whilst the sports pitches cannot be used due to the current COVID-19 restrictions, our Grounds Sports Team have continued to take this opportunity to carry out improvement works at our Topsham Sports Ground.
This week they have reinstated the overgrown footpath that runs along the side of the 1st team rugby pitch, by digging out the overgrown grass and levelling it off; reinstating it back to a standard not seen for many years.