Sunny Stonecrops for Sumptious Suppers

Hello Bee Friends,

How is your garden? Mine is full of Stonecrops blooming profusely and brightening up my whole yard. Stonecrops are wonderful plants because they love hot and dry, and that’s exactly what I have in my backyard. They are so pretty, bloom all summer, and are exceptionally easy to grow. This plant has grown everywhere I’ve planted it – in rich moist soil, in dry hot baked clay, in cracks between slate stepping stones, under other plants and in full sun.

And, most wonderful of all, this plant is loved not just by me, but by almost any living creature that visits my yard.

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Yesterday I counted one white moth,  one orange moth, three mid-size bees, one big bee, one wasp, several flying insects too quick and small to know what they were, and several ants all enjoying the yellow Stonecrop (Sedum Kamtschaticum) in the warm sunset – and all at the same time. 

Bee enjoying Stonecrop (Sedum) July 10, 2015

Even the furry cat I am currently kitty-sitting this week loves to sit beside it, listening to the buzz of the bees. 😀

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Everybody loves Stonecrop

I have four different Stonecrops, but this particular variety of Stonecrop is the favourite of all. It propagates easily from cuttings just by plucking off a shoot and sticking it directly in the ground. It can also be grown from the seed it produces after flowering. It grows everywhere it is planted. It blooms from late spring to autumn, changing colour from this bright sunny yellow to a bronzy-orange, and finally to red. The leaves change colour too in the autumn. It contains itself well in a showy clump with the height ranging between 4-10 inches.

If you can only afford to plant one or two plants, I would highly recommend this one. Especially for a starting gardener as it is so easy to grow and looks beautiful all spring, summer and autumn. Bees love it, butterflies love it – Everybody loves Stonecrop! 😀

Do you have any Stonecrops growing in your garden?

Have a nice week, and Bee Nice to Bees! 😀

 

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Raindrops on Roses, and so are the Bees

Hello Bee Friends,

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my yard watching the flowers bloom in our incredibly hot weather. Usually June brings the “June Monsoons” (as I fondly call them) but this year is dry, dry, dry. We finally got rain late last night and it was so wonderful to hear the patter of raindrops all night.

Today, the bees are busy because my rose is emitting the most wonderful fragrance with its profusion of blooms.

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Bee on Rose (Jun 30 2015)

 

The Bachelor Buttons are flowering too, and they love them.

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Bee on Bachelor Buttons

 

I mentioned before that I’m letting a patch of clover grow in my back yard. This is what it looks like right now. There are always about five or seven bees flitting from flower to flower.

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Patch of Clover in the middle of my lawn

Bee on Clover (Jun 2015)

 

Between my rose in the front yard and the pretty patch of clover in the back, they are very happy bees.

And that makes me very happy too. Do you have happy bees in your yard?

Have a nice week, and as always,

Bee Nice to Bees!

 

 

 

 

 

Pesticide Use Poll has Disastrous Results

Hello Bee Friends,

Recently, on June 11th Calgary’s Global News conducted a poll asking its citizens if pesticide use should be increased to control weeds, specifically dandelions. The results were disastrous – for bees, birds, and other wildlife (not to mention people).  Here is the result of the poll. [1]

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This is a complete flip from the similar poll conducted in May 2007. “In a Global CTV poll 71% of respondents voted no to the question “Should the City of Calgary increase its pesticides use to control our dandelion explosion?” 29% voted in favour.” [2]

So, what happened in the eight years since the last vote? Especially when the decline of Bees (and other important and essential wildlife) are so much in the news?

I can only imagine that the majority of people in Calgary have become so self-centered that a green sterile mono-culture grass lawn is more important than bees, their pet dogs and cats, their own children, and their own health. Green weed-free grass is more important than the fish that swim in the world-renowned Bow River, or the effects of run-off for every creature that depends on this source of water downstream. Grass weed-free boulevards and parks are more important than getting cancer [3]; more important than getting Parkinson’s [4]; and more important than potentially causing ADHD in children, and endocrine disorders in pregnant women, and brain cancer in children [5].

Pesticides are poisonous!!! That’s why they work!!! http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/warning.html says:

Warning on the Use of Chemicals

Pesticides are poisonous. Always read and carefully follow all precautions and safety recommendations given on the container label. Store all chemicals in the original labeled containers in a locked cabinet or shed, away from food or feeds, and out of the reach of children, unauthorized persons, pets, and livestock. Consult the pesticide label to determine active ingredients and signal words.

Pesticides applied in your home and landscape can move and contaminate creeks, lakes, and rivers.Confine chemicals to the property being treated and never allow them to get into drains or creeks. Avoid drift onto neighboring properties, especially gardens containing fruits or vegetables ready to be picked.

Do not place containers containing pesticide in the trash or pour pesticides down sink, toilet, or outside drains. Either use the pesticide according to the label until the container is empty, or take unwanted pesticides to a Household Hazardous Waste Collection site. Contact your county agricultural commissioner for additional information on safe container disposal and for the location of the Hazardous Waste Collection site nearest you. Dispose of empty containers by following label directions. Never reuse or burn the containers or dispose of them in such a manner that they may contaminate water supplies or natural waterways.”

When most other cities and provinces in Canada are implementing pesticide bans, Calgary takes two steps back (or ten?).

  • Even though twenty-two million Canadians (65% of all Canadians) are protected from exposure to cosmetic pesticides under comprehensive bans in Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec (based on Statistics Canada’s 2011 census data) [6]. Ontarios’ ban covers “more than 250 previously sold chemical pesticide products” [7].
  • Even though Physicians [8] are very concerned about adverse health effects.
  • Even though The Canadian Cancer Society [9] warns against pesticides effect on health.

Bees cannot read warning signs!! Neither can birds. “Contact pesticides are usually sprayed on plants and can kill bees when they crawl over sprayed surfaces of plants or other media. Systemic pesticides, on the other hand, are usually incorporated into the soil or onto seeds and move up into the stem, leaves, nectar, and pollen of plants.” [10]

There are other, more friendly ways to control weeds: like… let them grow, or mow the grass more often.

I’m very sad today, my friends. 😦

Can we every really Save the Bees (or even humankind?)

Source: http://www.cbc.ca ot-dead-bees-070330.jpg [11]

Bee (as) Nice to Bees (as you can, because others just don’t care)

Sources:

[1] Source: http://globalnews.ca/news/2049574/should-calgary-increase-herbicide-use-to-control-dandelions-weeds/

[2] http://www.healthycalgary.ca/

[3] Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and Specific Pesticide Exposures in Men: Cross-Canada Study of Pesticides and Health Source: http://old.ecceterra.org/doc/captano_nov01.pdf

[4] If there is strong evidence that exposure to a pesticide causes Parkinson’s disease, cancer, other serious illness or negative environmental effects then regulatory action will be taken. Source: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/pesticides/health_effects.html

[5] http://www.toxicsaction.org/problems-and-solutions/pesticides

[6] http://www.pesticidefreebc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=53&Itemid=72

[7] http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/pesticides/ontario-pesticide-ban-raises-bar-for-other-provinces/

[8] The Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment,a non-profitable organization dedicated to environmental issues especially as they relate to human health, have campaigned on the hazards of lawn pesticides. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesticides_in_Canada

[9] On April 3, 2008, the Canadian Cancer Society released opinion poll results conducted by Ipsos Reid, which established that a clear majority of residents in the provinces of British Columbia and Saskatchewan want province-wide cosmetic lawn pesticide bans, and that the majority of respondents believe that cosmetic pesticides are a threat to their health. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pesticides_in_Canada

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Pesticide_toxicity_to_bees

[11] http://www.cbc.ca/polopoly_fs/1.2283994.1383188771!/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_300/ot-dead-bees-070330.jpg

You Should BEE Dancing, Yeah!

Hello Bee Friends,

Did you ever wonder how bees tell other bees where flowers are? I bet you know that they fly back to their hives and tell the other bees, and you are absolutely right. But how do they communicate this?

Bees dance!!  And they don’t just dance willy-nilly, they dance like a Wu Li Master by incorporating UV light from the sun, gravity, vector calculus (!!) and the sun’s movement in the sky. Pretty wild?

Check this out: 🙂

Okay, if you want something more scientific, here is an excellent video from Georgia Tech College of Computing called: The Waggle Dance of the Honeybee:

Next time your teenage humans roll their eyes at geography or physics, and whine about why they need to learn it – you can calmly point out that Bees are smart enough to know about these topics 😀

Your task this week: Pretend you are a bee, pick an object and then tell someone else through ‘bee dance’ where the object is.

and…as always… Bee nice to Bees! 😀

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! 😀