Saturday, July 16, 2011

Life Bee Good

If you've been following my MooseBoots journey, you know that I have bees.  This is the second year.  Last year, I am guessing, that I inadvertantly let the queen go when I installed them.  It was sad to watch the hive start to build and then slowly die.  This year, as I said before, I was better prepared.

Unfortunately, I have not been keep good records here on my blog.  Today, I rectify this.   I have been watching them over the last three months.  The difference between this year and last is striking!  Let me begin by telling you that "busy as a bee" is not just an idiom.  Those guys and gals are constantly working.  I love to stand by the entrance and watch them leave and return, pollen sacs swollen to the point that it seems impossible they can still fly.

Of course, then I get curious.  What are they eating?  Where are they foraging?  Once or twice I was completely dumbfounded.  Nothing was blooming ... but, wait ... there is pine pollen everywhere!  I never seem to find them where I expect.  Of course, to see them one must be very patient and still.  I am still not very good at that.  Bee Balm is apparently a misnomer, or not applicable to honey bees.  Milkweed, the staple of the Monarch butterfly (which, incidentally, were not so prolific last year) seems to satisfy their cravings.  I'll admit that the flowers are sweet.  I hear that they can be rendered into sugar, but have not tried it ... they go right into my mouth, one at a time.

Tonight, I went to get some picture of them to share here.  I found lots of others as well.  The Japanese Beetles have established something of a spa on the grape leaves.  The Bumble Bees are content to share the Milkweed.

And so, life is good here.  All creatures seem to exist in harmony here.  I am blessed to be a part of it and extraordinarily grateful to be allowed to observe and learn from all Nature offers. 


  1. "The Japanese Beetles have established something of a spa on the grape leaves."
    This giggled me, way more than it should. Those beetles are not funny at all, destroying our roses and raspberries and grapes! But the thought they might be at a spa.... well, that's an image I'll take with me when I see them chillin' on our rosebush...

  2. Rachel, I am glad to have 'giggled' you. In the words of Uncle Albert of Mary Poppins fame, "I love to laugh."

    The beetles seem to contain themselve to the grapes and black raspberries here. The girls will pick them off and feed them to the chickens from time to time, but, for the most part, we leave them alone. The black raspberries have been very generous this year, so I guess it is not too much of a problem letting them share.

  3. So good to hear that you are much more successful with your bees this year! Great pictures...This spring we had many, many bumblebees, but I have only seen maybe four or five honey bees - unheard of on our property. Our neighbour down the road no longer keeps bees, so maybe that's why ours have disappeared, but I would still think that there would be natural colonies living in trees, etc. Our property is a haven for many other creatures, I am slightly concerned about not having the honey bees around. Plants are still getting pollinated because of the many other insects, but still... any thoughts?

  4. Julie, I wouldn't worry about it too much. There are no honey bee species native to North America. They were an introduced species in the 1600s.

    I know that pollination was happening before this. In our area, mason bees and bumble bees come to mind immediately as native pollinators. There are others, I am sure. I would not worry too much unless you are trying to grow non-native, very exotic plants that may not be serviced by native pollinators.

    I, of course, am hoping mine help pollinate, but I would also like to be able to collect some honey in the bargain. We'll see.

  5. Thanks for the info, Deus Ex Machina...I did not know about honey bees not bee-ing native before the 1600's - interesting...I try to have alot of pollinator-friendly plants in our gardens (flower and veggie), as well as healthy environments for wasps, ladybugs and dragonflies, to help with the problem pests.

    As for non-native plants, I try not to have too many of those - they don't do as well, anyways. We are trying to switch back to non-hybrids for our veggies, too. Getting back to as basic as we can, keeping it simple and good.

    Hope you can harvest some nice honey this year!

  6. Julie, you are welcome. We do not intend to harvest much, if any honey this year. We want to make sure they have enough for winter. We plan to let them have it all until next spring, unless they have a lot of it stored by September 1st. If the hive is full, we may take a single bar of comb.


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