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Archive for the ‘Bees’ Category

To Blog or Not To Blog

This post is somewhat moot as I have obviously NOT blogged for a few months now.

My friends have mostly migrated to FaceBook. More folks see your photos and whatnot there … not necessarily because they want to but because they happen upon them while they’re busy doing other things (to paraphrase JL).

Very clever on FB’s part. And I confess, I enjoy the accidental findings myself.

So this is just an acknowledgment of my limbo status. I like to photograph. I like to write. But for whom? And for what purpose?

I was either hosting vacationers or being on vacation myself for the month of July. I am currently recuperating from bunion surgery early in August.

August is a great time to recuperate. I can be outdoors and savor the smells and the breeze in the trees. The bees are busy doing their business. The flowers are making nectar. Life is good.

I can’t resist including this video from Anna’s Bee World blog , as I’ve spent so much time just watching bees in my garden:

I’ve been enjoying this blog lately: No Direction Known A young woman is cycling across the USA for LivingStrong. It’s a great way to “pass through” rural America.

I just finished listening to The Help in audio book form — which I highly recommend for the outstanding narrations and accents. You can listen to an excerpt here. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with these women.

Lastly, I’m reading Temple Grandin’s Animals in Translation and enjoying it immensely.

If you got this far, thanks for reading.

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Backyard Sightings

This is the second year I’ve spotted the Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Audubon briefly visit my yard — same time of year, same corner of yard. There were at least two pairs. Apparently they pass through here while migrating to breed. They were very shy and hard to glimpse with binoculars, let alone a camera! I really had to keep my distance.

My photo (male):

Web image:

You can’t really tell from either photo how striking that yellow head-patch is. When out in the field that paired yellow above and below the beak flashes as the bird pecks the ground and darts its head up again. It’s unlike any other bird in this region.

The Pieris japonica are blooming and attracting bumble bees. It’s funny how different flowers attract specific bees.

This is the classic fat-bodied, yellow and black bumble bee:

This one might be the orange-belted (and shy) variety:

Neither bee kept very still. Apparently they’re social and have colony hives. Meanwhile, I’ve got 5 Orchard Mason bee “nests” built. I’m hoping for many more once the weather heats up (and dries out).

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Mammas and Papas

I installed my Orchard Mason bee house right off my back porch, about 4 feet above ground … for easy observation. These are docile bees. They’re solitary and don’t have a queen or hive to defend. While they don’t  have the range of the honey bee — bee for bee, they are far superior pollinators.

I’ve read that the males only live a few days but I’ve seen male bees at the entrance of the tubes for at least 6 weeks. I have no idea just how they mate but the males have been hanging out at the tube entrances for several weeks now.

Thanks to Seabrooke Leckie’s post I know they’re males because of the prominent yellow “nose-fluff”.

In contrast, the females are larger and have far less fluff. I can’t say that she’s much to look at.

PS — no more males are seen these days. Once their “job” is done, their raison d’etre is fini … and they die.

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Orchard Mason Bees

I couldn’t resist! I spent nearly $40 (yikes) for a Mason bee house, straws and cocoons.  It’s been nearly a month since I bought them. The males came out first. They’re hard to distinguish from an ordinary house fly.

Look for the antennas! There are also 4 wings (instead of 2) … but hey, that’s hard to see. Click on image to enlarge. You can almost make out the double wings. I believe this is a male.

Mason Bees (Osmia lignaria) are native bees. They’re hardy to our climate and far superior pollinators to the European “honey bee”. I probably didn’t need to buy the cocoons, since they’re everywhere.

I just couldn’t wait to post this 30 second video. I’ve spotted about 3 females inside the tubes (they’re a LOT larger). Again, I believe this is a male. I don’t know what the “tail wagging” is about … they do this frequently in and around the nest box.

If nothing else, this experience has made me much more sensitive to bugs in general. It’s one of the things about winter that I never noticed … there aren’t any bugs! It wasn’t until mid-way though February that flies reappeared. Never thought I’d live to be excited to see flies.

Cheap thrills, as we used to say. You can find a useful video on orchard mason bees on the Oregonian’s video  page. Portland’s Xerces Society is another bee resource.

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Pink Madness

Every year I tell myself that this year I’m not going to get excited about my flowering cherry. But, heck! Spring is imminent and the bees are out in full force.

I brought out the step ladder and just sat up there in the blossoms and got a little mad with pink.

You’ll note the pollen-laden ‘thighs’ on this bee.

When I’m gardening under the tree I hear an electric hum of bees overhead. It doesn’t quite translate in this video. It’s only a minute and a half. There’s a surprise visitor in the last 25 seconds.

That little Bush Tit was a foot from my head. Those birds know me and just don’t understand why I haven’t replenished the usual supplies.

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What it’s all about

Sunflower9(blog)This is not just a pretty flower, but one heck of a bee magnet! I was watering my neighbor’s garden when I noticed this sole sunflower (suspiciously under the sunflower seed bird feeder) a-buzz with bees.

There seemed to be a constant occupancy of two bees at a time. Yesterday, being Friday, I listened to Science Friday on my way home from the falls. There was a terrific segment about bees.

That’s the larger Bumble bee on the left and at least one Honey bee (lower right).
Bees1(blog)

The smaller bee (top) just might be the Italian bee (Apis Mellifera ligustica). The lower bee is a classic Honey bee (Apis Mellifera). Perhaps I’ll participate in the Great Pollinator Project.
bees2(blog)

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