Fire(weed) in the Hole

Ah, don’t you just love the thick of summer?  Hot, lazy days filled with barbeques and picnics, lemonade and ice, light purple evenings that last to the late night hours.  In my part of the world, summer is brief and poignant. Frost ends in late May and leaves start to turn in early September. After this weekend, kids return to school and I always wonder – where did the summer go so fast?

Lazing around gives one a perspective of life that is different. This summer (in my lovely hammock) I’ve been able to drift along many afternoons reading, daydreaming or watching bees and dragonflies. I’ve noticed something really funny.  Or weird. Or maybe, intelligent? The bees don’t like some of my flowers. They just avoid them completely.

Osteospurnum for one. I haven’t seen a single bee all summer land on any of the flowers.  Or my Pelargoniums (Geraniums).  Not one bee.  It’s strange, yes?  I wonder if the bees can sense that they might contain something bad.  Like neonicotinoids.

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I’ll tell you, I just about cried when I found out that some of my garden plants may be inadvertently killing the bees. Here are two articles for you – if you have time:

1. CBC article on neonicotinoid pesticides affect on bees:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/bee-researchers-raise-more-warning-flags-about-neonicotinoid-pesticides-1.2644354 

2. Wired article on neonicotinoid pesticides on garden plants purchased at garden shops:  http://www.wired.com/2014/06/garden-center-neonicotinoids/

Sigh….

So, even though the flowers are thick and full of colour, the bees don’t like them. I’ve been wondering about that.

This summer we have also had light smoke that drifted hundreds of kilometers from the North and settled on the green leaves in my garden. This light dusting of ash has been washed away by warm summer rain in the last few days. It’s also funny that I had a Fireweed plant spring up in the middle of my bottom flower bed. These flowers usually spring up all over after a forest fire – in a forest!!  Here is a picture from a hike I did this summer where the Fireweed is absolutely gorgeous and blankets the whole mountain!

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Back in my own yard though (still lazing in my hammock) I watched this lone Fireweed grow from an indistinct bit of green (that I hadn’t a clue what it was at first) to a nice tall pretty purple flowered spike.

I often get strange plants growing in odd places.  Sometimes, I let them grow because I can’t tell if they are weeds or not. I get wild flowers growing from seeds I think might be pooped out by birds – or maybe blown in by the wind. I have a wild tulip growing in my front, it’s really pretty. So I let things grow, unless it’s obvious that it is a weed.

And one thing I noticed – Bees love wild flowers the best.  They flock to flowers that just grow out of nature.  They prefer wild over the garden plants that I’ve spent money and so much time and water to make them grow.  Strange, hey?

Here is a bee that is DSC_0043going crazy for the Fireweed in my yard.

So the moral of the story this week is – let some weeds grow.  Bees love them!

and Bee nice to bees! 😀

 

 

Bee-ing Clever with Clover

Has everyone been hearing about The Demise of the Bees?  It seems everywhere I turn, I see a headline or two about it.  It bothers me a lot, not just because I like bees, but because it seems to highlight the whole philosophy of humankind’s disregard for other life forms. 😦

Well, maybe that’s a bit melodramatic, but I take it personally…my nickname is Bee too.

I have always tried to grow a Bee-Friendly garden, but – seriously – I haven’t got a clue what I’m doing.  I have two brown thumbs, and clay dirt, and have tried growing about a hundred different plants. After fruitless (pun intended) years, I’ve finally settled on letting nature take its course. Whatever grows, I split and plant around. From a hundred plants, I’m down to a few basics. My philosophy is let whatever grows, grow.  So when a tiny patch of clover started growing in my backyard right in the middle of my grass, I … well, I let it grow.

I convinced The Eggman to keep the patch of clover for the bees and dragonflies, and he very graciously (although hesitantly and very skeptically) agreed.  It grew over the summer to a patch about two meters long and a half-meter wide, but The Eggman conscientiously mowed the grass around it whilst giving me strange and ‘you are crazy’ kind of glances.  But you know what? I love the look of nature being wild in the middle of my pristine manicured yard.

And even more than me loving it, the bees loved it.  Bees love clover.

Yup, that nasty broadleaf that some people (and cities) spend gallons of herbicide to get rid of – is one of the Bees favourite flowers.  They absolutely love it.

Here is one bee crawling all around and over the clover.

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The bees couldn’t get enough of the clover pollen. I think there must have been at least five different types of bees hovering around, from early summer to – well, even now.  Here are some of them:

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Many afternoons, I would slink into my hammock neatly hung between two Balinese lantern poles and float about a foot off the ground silently watching the Bees slip and buzz among the white flower clover spikes.

The view from my  hammock (can you see the little bee?):

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These are happy bees.  And I’m a Happy Bee watching them.

My tip for the day:  If you want bees in your yard, grow some clover.  I guarantee they will stop by for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And if you are really inclined, write a letter to your mayor or city council asking them to STOP spraying herbicide, so that the natural green spaces can grow some bee-friendly clover too.

Bee nice to bees. 😀