The Daphne bushes outside the dinning room window are coated in sweet smelling blooms. Early in April they were already attracting bees as the buds started to form. Near the middle of April the hummingbirds began flitting around the bushes, and today I saw the first swallowtail butterfly of the season as it danced from bloom to bloom.
Oh, and did I mention that it is also the perfect lookout spot for our striped barn cat? He hangs around nestled between the Daphne while he waits for the day to begin.
Springtime is bringing warmer weather. The grass is greening up (as are the weeds), daffodils are bright yellow and the flowering cherry tree is all decked out in pretty pink. The sweet smelling Daphne bushes are close to blooming and the sage is sending out new earthy-toned tips.
Hummingbirds, Juncos and a few bees have been spotted hanging around the burgeoning plants and it won’t be long before the other flowering trees and large leaf maples start to fill out. The robins are coming into the pastures in droves to feast on the plentiful worm population.
The bulls in the bull pen seem oblivious to the flowers and trees, birds and bees, they are spending their time finding the newest stems of grass as they traverse the acreage of the pen. We open up the gates at opposite ends of the barn so they can take turns nibbling on grass as it grows keeping both sides from getting overgrown or over-grazed.
It is no surprise around here, everyone is talking about it, it is a bad bee year. Even in May we noticed a larger than average amount of bees especially wasps and hornets, and the weather had not yet turned savagely hot or dry at that stage yet. Now with the blackberries, plums, apples and pears all ripening and full of sweet juice, the bees are becoming downright dangerous. Continue reading
The plums have gotten to the point where they are still crisp with just a hint of tangy-ness to them. Just right in my book.
Some have also started falling off the tree, so the job of ‘hoover-ing’ up the fallen fruit is given to the dogs just until the cows are moved from the far field. Normally, the cows would make the fruit circuit to the apple, plum and pear trees that are growing in the pastures near the river. But with the herd a couple of fields away, the dogs are more than happy to take up the slack by cleaning up under the trees at every opportunity.
It is a good thing that our critters enjoy the fruit as well as they do because the downed fruit attracts bees with the sticky juice. This is one of those years where the bees are everywhere and stings are a constant concern.
While mowing down the tough grasses and weeds in the pastures, I try to get the edges under the trees because those darn Canadian Thistles love to grow in those protected areas. I duck under branches of fir and big leaf maples and back under the branches, driving the tractor with the rotary mower as far as I can to reach the weeds. Continue reading
Bees and I don’t get along, let me re-phrase that, bees like me but I don’t like them. I tend to puff up like a blow fish and the sting site burns for nearly a week before the itching starts. I’m not allergic enough to carry epinephrine with me, but stings are painful for me. I must give off the right smell for them because they seem to hover around me for not particular reason.
I am not wild about most bees. I am allergic to the stings, and while it’s not enough to put me in the hospital or have the need to carry epinephrine with me, I do swell up like a puffer fish and have discomfort for a full week after being stung. So usually I just try to avoid bees and their stings, with the exception of the honey bee.
I encourage the honey bees we have around here and regard them with respect for the valuable part they play in our ecosystem. Our tall fir trees that show signs of having bee colonies inhabiting old scars (referred to as ‘Cat Faces’) or forming mobile hives in the large leaf maples are marked and we refuse to cut them down for fear of chasing the honey bees away. Continue reading