Bee-Watching

I had a post all ready for today, but then I read it over and thought, “The world doesn’t need any more snark.” Yep, it’s been one of those weeks; but I’d rather concentrate on the good stuff instead of the tear-out-my-hair stuff. (’Cause I don’t think I can pass off bald spots as a fashion statement.)

So:

Bees! I adore bees. As a kid I was afraid of them, but my fear didn’t last. Bees were ever-present on our family farm and I never got stung; so I learned to ignore them. (I later found out that I’ve probably been stung quite a few times. Other than the initial ‘Wow, does that ever hurt’, I don’t have much reaction to bee stings.)

Anyhow, when I started gardening and growing fruit, my interest in bees ramped up. Then I discovered that without bees, we’d lose about a third of the food crops we eat. Now I’m firmly Team Bee!

When I started paying more attention, I realized how cute they are, too: Wee tubby fuzzy almost-bears with sparkly gossamer wings. We grow lots of pollinator-friendly plants, and a huge variety of bees come to the snack bar. You can hear the garden buzzing from across the lane.

Since I haven’t been able to do much outdoor work this spring (no thanks to my back problems, grrr), I’ve developed a new hobby: Bee-watching. From my chair on the porch, I can train the binoculars on the garden several yards away, and watch the action to my heart’s content. Here are a few of our many visitors:

This tiny guy is dusted with pollen.

Who says you shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes?

So fuzzy! ❀

One of the big bumblers

Snazzy two-tone bees!

No bees in this one, but I couldn’t resist photographing the fuzzy centre of a poppy.

Here’s how it looks fully open.

The bees’ snack bar. (Just ignore the weeds. Or, as I like to call them, “groundcover”.) πŸ˜‰

I hope you’ve found some beautiful things to enjoy this week, too!

Book 17 update: I’m on Chapter 47 and John and Aydan are in serious trouble, with no rescue in sight. Sometimes no matter how smart and resourceful you are, circumstances get the best of you…

34 thoughts on “Bee-Watching

  1. Stunning captures….truly stunning!!! Yes bees are to be protected as they are a vital part of the eco system. I try to politely shoo them away when they hover around me and some how it works as I don’t seem to get stung!! Love your garden!!

    Like

  2. Your flowers and bees are so well photographed. Lovely. Bee-utiful was already used :(. And your flower garden is perfect for bees. Ever consider setting up a couple of hives?
    My son worked at a honey farm from when he was 15 until his late 20s. After the first year you don’t count the stings. His boss’s wife did get a shot of his eye swollen shut.
    Be careful what you read and believe about bees. They are extremely important but not to a third of the world’s food crops. Also neonics do not kill bees. Western Canada’s honey industry is canola blossom based and virtually all of the canola seed is treated with neonics.

    Like

    • I had never even heard of neonics — I had to go and look them up. So much data, so little time!

      I looked up the “1/3 of the world’s food crops” statistic before I wrote the post, but now I can’t remember where I found it. The University of Montana has an interesting list of plants that need pollination here: http://bigskybees.org/GardenVegetablesFruitsNeedPollination.html. In the big picture of world food production, 1/3 does seem a bit high considering that cereal grains are such a large part of the food supply and they don’t need insect pollination. (The U of M site doesn’t mention oilseeds, but I read elsewhere that although canola is self-fertile, insect pollination increases its production levels. Who knows how that would skew the ratio.) Here in my own garden, about 60% of my food crops need bees, so I’m always glad to see them. πŸ™‚

      Like

  3. Your garden is lovely, thank you for sharing, Diane, and for doing your part for our little 🐝 friends! Hope your back heals soon. πŸ’›

    Like

  4. Smart and lovely little book update. Those darn circumstances, right? And those bees. So pretty, fuzzy, important. When I was growing up, I didn’t know the difference between wasps and bees. We learned to be afraid of both. Well, their stings anyway.

    To this day, I have been stung multiple times (and sometimes even in the same instance), but I’m pretty sure those were wasp nests I brushed. Bees are special. I have an utmost respect for them and I’m enthralled by how strong your binoculars are to be watching them from a comfy spot on the porch.

    Like

    • Yes, we have a pair of image-stabilizing binoculars. What a difference they make, especially at longer range! We got them quite a few years ago for birding. Image-stabilizing binoculars are expensive, so we got the cheapest/best for the price (at the time), which was a pair of Canon 10×30’s. You can pay a lot more for better distance/field of view, but we find that for most of what we do, the 10×30’s are good enough. Certainly better than trying to squint through a pair of conventional binoculars while the view is wobbling and vibrating!

      And I’m sure you can relate to the “circumstances” after your latest experiences. I hope you’re soon back to having enjoyable adventures instead!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I doubt that any snark you might publish would even come close to some of what I’ve read online; it can get really harsh out there. People are so fed up. People on every side of every issue.

    I love your description of bees – “Wee tubby fuzzy almost-bears with sparkly gossamer wings.” Perfect!! My mother has a small tree in her back yard that put forth pink blossoms this June and the bees are having a field day with it! (I was never at her house enough to see it before this year, and I need to find out the name of it now. She no longer knows the names of her many plants, sadly.) Your photos are amazing.

    Like

    • Thanks, @jenny_o! I love macro photography — as I need stronger and stronger reading glasses to see close up, it’s nice to be able to get as close as I want with the lens.

      It’s sad that your mother has forgotten the name of her plants — yet another cruel stroke of dementia. The pink-flowering tree might be Prunus glandulosa, a flowering almond or flowering plum (people can’t seem to make up their minds on the common name). They’re lovely plants, although June is a bit late for them to be flowering. Or maybe it’s an ornamental crabapple. But I’m sure you have more important things on your mind than identifying a tree — it’s probably best to just enjoy it. πŸ™‚

      Like

      • It’s bigger than a flowering almond (the name I know that tree by) and smaller than an ornamental crabapple – I’ll have to take a closer look at the blossoms and leaves to be sure, though. It looked completely dead in March; the difference now is incredible. Our neighbour had an ornamental crabapple and it was GORGEOUS when it flowered! They had to have it cut down a few years back because its roots grew into their sewer outflow and you probably know how that ended πŸ˜€

        Like

        • Yikes. Not well. I can imagine that far too vividly, having experienced something similar.

          Your flowering shrub sounds like it might be weigela – mine’s in bloom right now and is loaded with pink blossoms even though it’s just a spindly young shrub. I can hardly wait until it grows into its adult form! Gardening requires both vision and patience, and unfortunately I only have the vision. Patience? Not so much. πŸ˜‰

          Like

          • LOL! I, on the other hand, have the patience but not the vision! Yes, this could be a weigela. I thought I knew what they looked like until I Googled and found many, MANY variations (of course). Thanks for the suggestions!

            Liked by 1 person

  6. With all those lovely bees you need a bee hotel! Easy to make from all sorts of thing,bamboo, straws, and other goodies . I am sure they would appreciate it.
    Lovely garden by the way.
    Chapter 47……. yeah! and OMG!

    Like

    • I’m glad to hear you’re looking forward to Book 17! πŸ˜€

      I love the idea of a bee hotel. That’s the nice thing about living in the country – we’re surrounded by forest, so there are nice hollow trees and undergrowth for them to occupy. In my garden there are lots of rock crevices, and I’ve left a few hollow ground-level roots and stumps, too; plus the leftover goodies from the spent flowers. I’ve discovered bees taking a nap in the carpet of fallen blossoms from the rhodos — so cute when they crawl out of there looking half-asleep!

      Like

  7. I do react badly to bee stings. I blow up in spectacular fashion. My partner does not. He rode into a bee while on his motorbike. When we got home I picked the body out from just under his eye. He had a teensy, weensy red mark.
    Just the same both of us love them. And encourage them.
    Loving your garden – and have rather more ‘ground cover’ than you do to wrestle with at the moment. A very, very wet season has allowed the weeds to thrive. Many of them have triffid plans for world domination. And the bees like quite a lot of them too…

    Like

    • I’m hoping that this is the worst of our weed season right now — we usually have a wet spring followed by a dry summer, so we get hit with a massive weed growth followed by a break. But it’s been unseasonably cool and rainy here, too; so if this weather persists, it might fuel the weeds’ bid for world domination. If I stop posting to my blog, you’ll know I went near the garden and was dragged in and consumed.

      Even though I don’t get a big allergic reaction, a bee sting still really hurts, and it causes a hard little swelling around it that lasts for about half an hour. Under the eye would be a terrible place to get stung! Ow, ow, ow!

      Like

      • That bee sting didn’t appear to bother him – or perhaps he is just super tough.
        A friend of ours got a spectacular black eye when he ran into a grass hopper on another bike ride…
        And I hear you on the potential to be dragged into the garden and consumed. The ultimate in green burials – though I hope to feed more than the weeds.

        Like

      • LOL! I still remember the episode of Happy Days where Fonzie was instructing Richie on how to ride a motorcycle:
        Fonzie: “…and don’t smile.”
        Richie (instantly sober): “Why not?”
        Fonzie: “You get bugs in your teeth.”

        Like

  8. I moved to doing a container garden a few years ago and added more pots to the collection this year. (Mexican planters, picked up from a place in Old Colorado City while I was on the Lemons Rally.) Got all the annuals planted, so now I get to sit back and watch for the bees once we get more blooms. We did see quite a few when we took a walk around the gardens at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville two weekends ago. A lot of bees. Doing bee things.

    I do miss growing dill and letting it flower. It attracted a few bees, but especially attracted the eastern black swallowtail butterflies–we’d get several caterpillars each summer. They must have good memories, as I still see the butterflies return every so often to the spot in the yard where we used to plant the dill. I did plant a patch of wildflowers last year that supposedly appealed to pollenators, but while they looked nice, we really didn’t get too much activity there.

    Like

    • It’s funny which flowers the bees seem to prefer. We’ve got a lot in bloom right now, from big showy rhododendrons to smaller flowers. The bees seem to ignore the pink rhodos but love the purple ones; and they go crazy for the small, relatively unobtrusive blooms of the cranesbill geraniums. I guess their preferences are a bit different than mine!

      I just saw the first swallowtail butterflies yesterday. I haven’t seen any black swallowtails out here, and I didn’t realize how many varieties of swallowtails there are until I (just) looked them up. It turns out ours are tiger swallowtails, and they seem to prefer the purple rhodos, too. To each their own, I guess! πŸ™‚

      Like

        • Thanks for visiting my trainwreck! 😁 Honestly not a fan of Disqus either but, given the type of traffic I attract, I needed the moderation capabilities. Yet the online magazine I write for uses WP’s commenting system (self-hosted) and they seem to make do. I haven’t posted anything about my recent Asheville trip but, come later in July, if gas isn’t too crazy, I plan to go on the Rust Belt Ramble and will have the same blow-by-blow posted. (Checkpoints are always posted on Instagram.) I really wanted to post some “getting the hands dirty” content as I work on the cars, but I’m usually too busy with the task to mess with a camera. A GoPro on time lapse may be my only option!

          I see a couple of neighbors near me putting out hummingbird feeders. Yet they don’t seem to realize that you need the right flowers to attract them first–they go for darker pink and red flowers. When I used to have a lot of petunias on the other side of town, I regularly had hummingbirds visit. I have a few here, but we see a hummingbird maybe once or twice a year, if that. Since they’re not regular visitors, I doubt even the red/pink flowers would do much to keep them coming back.

          From what I understand, rhododendrons are native to North Carolina. I saw some when we visited the Biltmore estate a few weeks ago, and also during a short hike along the Blue Ridge Parkway. My folks had some gorgeous bushes along the side of the house when I was growing up, but for some reason they took them down. I like how they are often a solid mass of color! Maybe the pink ones will attract you some hummingbirds? πŸ˜‰

          I’d never seen a black swallowtail until I planted the dill. The caterpillars are so uniquely colored that they can’t be mistaken for anything else. When I planted the wildflower patch last year, I forgot to toss in a few remaining dill seeds that I had. If I had a much larger yard, I’d have planted them again this year. (They came from a seed mix, and it was a well-planned batch of seeds, as once the shorter plants quit flowering, the next larger size would flower. So we had nice color all summer long.)

          Anyhoo, I’m heading outside to do some bug catching. I mean, bike riding. And remembering to keep my mouth mostly shut, especially during fishfly season!

          Like

          • Fishflies, ewwww!!! I remember a few summers around the lakes when everything was just a squirming mass of fishflies. The only good thing about them is that they don’t bite. (And I can’t imagine they’d taste good, either.) Stay safe out there! πŸ˜‰

            Liked by 1 person

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.