Don’t Worry, Bee Happy

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

Busy Bees

The other day, I was driving the Gator over to the outside feeders where Mike was smoothing the rock around the feeders. I had a rigid rake and was going to try to smooth some of the areas that he couldn’t reach with the bucket on the tractor.

It was my thought that I needed to park off the road as to be out of the way when he wanted to move the tractor back to the barn. I had Butler the dog in the front of the Gator with me and Jackson the other dog, tethered in the back. When I pulled off the road I didn’t realize that I had parked right on top of a ground nest of yellow jackets. As I shut off the motor,¬† the swarm attacked poor Jackson and was buzzing the whole Gator.

I restarted the motor and slammed the Gator into reverse. Butler made a leaping to safety swan dive out during mid-reverse,. but Jackson couldn’t get away that easily. I reached over the seats and unhooked Jackson and he jumped over the side. He looked back only a moment to give me the stink-eye before running to the river to cool his bee stings. He spent most of the afternoon lounging in the water. Luckily he is not allergic and was back to his old self by dinner time.

Late summer and fall are busy times for bees and they are very active. This close run in with the bees has me more alert for wasps and yellow jackets.

Two wasp nests barely and inch apart from each other.These two nests were noticed as I was loading hay to feed the cows this morning. One nest was inside a pipe and the other one was directly outside the pipe.

Bee Trees

Nature uses imperfections. Flaws, scars, genetic malformations  and the like, are all fodder for nature to create a diverse realm in which we are just a small part.

Trees that are deformed in some way can become home to large hives of honey bees.

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Flutterby or Butterfly

A closeup view of a swallowtail butterfly on yellow and white daisies.The debate heats up as the weather warms. I always refer to the proliferation of swallowtails as flutterbys, it is much more appropriate than saying butterflies if you ask me.

Either way, it is good to see the delicate creatures come back in force.

We had visitors to the farm the other day and we were taking a walking tour. When we passed the hedge of blackberries in full bloom, the swallowtails delighted the crowd with swoops and dives and near misses with the visitors. The blackberries were just humming with millions of bees accented by hundreds of flutterbys.

Cameras came out and pictures were snapped. The insects were pretty busy with their tasks and moving quickly from spot to spot, I’m not sure if anything was in focus.

Later in the summer, when the temperature climbs above 90 degrees, these butterflies can be seen down by the river. They congregate in groups around small sand bars at the edge of the river to sip refreshing water and to keep cool.

Wasps and Hornets Noticed

As I was washing dishes the other day, I noticed an unwelcome visitor building a hive just out my kitchen window. The beauty of the simple design made me stop to take a picture. The wasp nest that is about the size of a golf ball right now. Bees and me don’t get along very well. I swell up like a blow fish when stung. But, I did not have the heart to sweep the nest down just yet.

I look at it like science project for now. As the weather warms, the hive will grow. For now, the frosty mornings will help keep this little hive from expanding beyond control.

 

 

Hornets have also been spotted. They take advantage of cracks and crevices wherever they can find them. This group of hornets have been going in and out air holes at the top of our smoke house. We always have to clear out the bees before we smoke sausage.