May 25, 2019

Counting insects as only the Dutch can

Filed under: Dutch first,Nature,Science by Orangemaster @ 5:38 pm

Thanks to amateurs and experts at, the Netherlands is currently the only country in the world that is able to properly and automatically count insects, and plans to spend this summer doing so.

Using 100 camera traps that will be placed throughout the country specifically developed to automatically count and recognise insects, Software will be ‘trained’ using a photo database containing several million photos. The size and quality of this database is apparently unique in the world.

Counting and identifying insects gives researchers insight into the numbers of insects nationally as well as the effectiveness of measures being applied to restore biodiversity. According to recent publications in scientific research, there’s an alarming drop in numbers of insects in Western Europe and in Dutch nature reserves. Regular folks like myself often see adverts about the lack of bees, with garden centres selling seed mixtures for plants that attract bees and butterflies.

Using camera traps is a bid deal because they can count and cover more ground as it were. The Netherlands apparently leads the field automatic image recognition of insects and the technique, sponsored by the World Wildlife Fund, will now be delivered in time for the summer.

(Link:, Photo of Bee swarm by quisnovus, some rights reserved)

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August 4, 2017

Bees also like paintings of flowers

Filed under: Animals by Orangemaster @ 11:16 pm


A while back, we wrote about cats liking boxes drawn on the floor, but this time it’s about bees liking paintings of sunflowers, like the world famous one from Vincent van Gogh.

“Flower colours have evolved over 100 million years to address the colour vision of their bee pollinators.” With this in mind, investigators Professor Lars Chittka and Julian Walker of Queen Mary College, University of London, decided to investigate whether bees might also be attracted to paintings of flowers, for example (a copy of) Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’.

The whole study can be found here. According to the study, Van Gogh scored the best with the bees, apparently stimulating the bees’ green receptors most strongly, the receptors that spot flowers from afar.

(Link and photo

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July 12, 2017

Rare bee makes comeback in Limburg

Filed under: Nature by Orangemaster @ 11:03 am


Nature lovers, rejoice: the little flower bee (pics) (Anthophora bimaculata) has been spotted in the North of Maastricht for the first time in 44 years. It was last seen in the Netherlands in the run up to the oil crisis of 1973.

On 18 June Kees Goudsmits spotted a female of the species (shown here) and a few days later on 23 June someone spotted a male in places where mines used to be, and they seem to be making their way North to places like Eindhoven.

This bee is so special, it doesn’t have a Wikipedia page in English (hint). Until the end of the 20th century, it was normal enough to see the little flower bee in the Eastern and Southern provinces. After WWII, the bee eventually disappeared, with the last one spotted in 1973 in the town of Tienray, Limburg.

(Link:, Photo of Anthophora bimaculata by Ivar Leidus, some rights reserved)

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September 20, 2016

Dutch bees move to France for the winter

Filed under: Animals by Orangemaster @ 9:44 pm


Professional bekeeper Leo Gensen from Wijk bij Duurstede, Utrecht recently drove a truck with an adapted trailer full of half a million bees down to the southwest region of Dordogne in France to ensure their winter survival.

“The biggest problem for bees is that there’s often not enough food for them in the Netherlands” he explains. Gensen has a friend in France who is an amateur beekeeper and a pensioner, able to take care of the bees this winter.

In mid-October another one million bees will take the same 1100-kilometre trip. Chances are this is the first time this has ever been done.

(Link:, Photo of swarming bees by quisnovus, some rights reserved)

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December 17, 2015

Colourful wasp makes first Dutch appearance

Filed under: Animals,Dutch first,Nature by Orangemaster @ 10:18 am


A new type of gold wasp, the rainbow wasp, was spotted for the first time this summer in the woods of Limburg. It took a while to identify it, but with the help of an Estonian expert, the colourful critter was found to be a Chrysis equestris, part of a family of wasps called ‘cuckoo wasps’.

Besides their beautiful colours, these incandescent wasps are ‘kleptoparasitic’, laying eggs in others insects’ nests, hence the cuckoo reference. The baby wasps then eat the eggs or larva in the nest, a bit like crashing a banquet.

The Netherlands has 57 types of wasps flying around.

(Links:,, Photo:

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June 19, 2015

Birds and bees found in bike saddle bags

Filed under: Animals,Bicycles,Nature by Orangemaster @ 9:22 am


This week there was a woman in Bloemendaal, North Holland who went grocery shopping with her bike and was about to load her saddle bags only to discover that an entire swarm of bees had moved in. The queen bee apparently decided to park it there and her entire buzzing entourage followed suit. They called in a beekeeper and he got them to move to a box.

Recently there was a woman in Oirschot, Noord-Brabant who noticed twigs in her saddle bags and kept forgetting to remove them every time she got on her bike until one day she decided to clear them out and noticed a bird’s nest with five robin eggs in it. She left her bike alone until last week when five baby robins emerged from the eggs.

(Link:, Photo of swarming bees by quisnovus, some rights reserved)

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February 26, 2014

Play beekeeper at home, inside your house

Filed under: Animals,Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 11:00 am

Just as spring began in 2012 we told you about how European bees are disappearing from the urban landscape, although many things are being done to counter this. As an unknowing consumer, I’ve noticed that the honey I buy has a lot of ‘non-EU’ honey in it, which means it’s probably from North America or the Middle East.

You could imagine that although keeping bees at home to gawk at (I like to try and spot the queen bee) and take their honey sounds really cool (pics), it has a hipster vibe to it. Back in 2011 Philips designed a beehive that you can place indoors, while the bees enter the hive from a sort of flower pot outdoors, so no bees flying around the house.

According to Philips, their urban beehive is a sustainable, environmentally friendly product concept that has direct educational effects. The city benefits from the pollination, while humans benefit from the honey and therapeutic value of observing the bees. As global bee colonies are in decline, this design contributes to the preservation of the species and encourages the return of the urban bee.

This sounds great if you’re up to smoking out the bees when you want the honey because you’ll need to do so eventually and you’ll need to have your own house to make those kinds of holes in your walls.

(Link:, Photo of Bee swarm by quisnovus, some rights reserved)

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July 5, 2012

Waiter, there’s a swarm of bees in my soda

Filed under: Animals,Nature,Weird by Orangemaster @ 6:04 pm

Imagine you’re chilling on a terrace in downtown Nijmegen, minding your own beeswax when along comes a swarm of bees heading right for your table like a homing device.

Last Tuesday, some 15,000 bees decided to go shopping for a new home and took a liking to the underside of one of the terrace tables. The patrons fled inside and the cafe shut its doors and windows. Forget calling the police, the owner called up a beekeeper to explain to the bees in bee speak that his cafe was not a good place to expand their honey business.

It was a battle to the end, with the queen bee not wanting to go gently. Finally, the beekeeper grabbed her with gloves on and they were all sorted. Nobody was stung.

The year 2012 is the year of the bee, but this major hive meeting was not on the agenda.

(Link:, Photo of Bee swarm by quisnovus, some rights reserved)

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March 21, 2012

It’s the year of the bee, more bees please

Filed under: Food & Drink,Nature,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 12:07 pm

A few days ago, beekeepers placed some 20,000 bees on the roof of the Amsterdam Municipal Theatre smack downtown in a serious attempt to help increase the honey bee population and eventually make honey. There are enough green spaces and trees in Amsterdam to hopefully start making honey this summer according to an optimistic beekeeper. And if you thought keeping bees on the roof of a theatre is weird, it’s been all the rage for years on the roof of the Paris Opera, in New York and other European cities.

Bees have been disappearing for years in Amsterdam, and so this is just another attempt at keeping them buzzing around. We apparently need bees for food growth and could use a boost of the wild bee population.

Bees can’t hurt you unless you mess with them, then they will sting you and die. I might be allergic to a proper bee sting so I go around them like the bully in the school yard at recess. I love watching them work, and who doesn’t like a good waggle dance?

(Link:, Photo of Honey bee by TexasEagle, some rights reserved.)

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