16 JUN 2020

You shouldn’t fear bees

Our local pollinators & fear is in the mind

Every person alive today is here thanks to pollinators – bees, wasps, butterflies, beetles and more. They are vital to all life on our planet but their habitats aren’t always protected. Anton investigates the pollinators found in Guernsey and the Pollinator Project – a local initiative to help protect and raise awareness of their importance. I then tell of a traumatic event that happened to me several nights ago and the effect it had on my brain and body!

Anton Investigates: Pollinators

Anton investigates the Pollinator Project an initiative created to help raise awareness of the importance of local pollinating wildlife.

Set up in 2017 by La Société Guernesiaise their aims include:

  • increase the understanding of the important role pollinators play

  • encouraging islanders to provide food and habitats for pollinators where possible, such as in gardens, allotments and window boxes

  • work with schools, businesses and community groups to establish pollinator patches throughout the Channel Islands

  • persuade large-scale land owners such as local government and utility companies to plant flowers, shrubs and trees for pollinators

  • Discourage the use of pesticides and other harmful practices

This year they offered the perfect lockdown respite - find all 19 local butterflies. With restrictions in place due to Coronavirus they sent island households a mailer that encouraged families to explore closer to home and whilst out walking.

La Garenne d’Anneville Nature Reserve

We took up this challenge and visited several of Guernsey’s more wild spots including La Garenne d'Anneville. The nature reserve still contains traces of a mid-13th century moat from when it was used to house rabbits for culinary uses! During the episode we record live as we hunt butterflies such as the Gatekeeper and Green-viened White.

Bees, wasps and more

After our expedition Anton speaks about the various different pollinators to be found. These include various bees from solitary species to the more familiar honey and bumblebees. He highlights how wasps shouldn’t be feared and are actually a very important part of the ecosystem - you’ll be amazed how many crop-damaging insects they consume each year! He finishes by look at other, sometimes forgotten insects that still play in important role.

We look forward to welcoming some of our new friends to the bug hotels recently installed in out garden!

Something hiding in my bed

Fear is all in the mind

A couple of days ago as I was getting ready for bed I passed Anton’s bedroom door I whispered a little good night to him as I always do. I then walked into my bedroom and my heart jumped out of my chest as something was hidden under my bed covers…

This got me thinking, what is fear? How does it work? What actually happened in my chest? And more to the point, what was in my bed?

The feeling only lasted a fleeting moment, an involuntary response coming from deep within my brain. An ancient part of my being stemming from a time when were more lizard than human. I take Anton through the startle reflex - how our amygdala modulates and directs the signals in our brain, the role glutamate plays in a taking it deeper into more base reactions, the increase in adrenaline and the heart pumping harder ready for fight or flight.

If I put you in a situation where you feel unpleasant, anxious or nervous, you might have a heightened startle reflex. Whereas if I put you in a state where you are feeling pleasant and I am showing you materials you like and find pleasant, the startle reflex is usually reduced.

Professor Ottmar Lipp, Curtin University

Further reading