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!

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Spring!!! Where are the Bees?

Hello Bee Friends,

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Frosty Robin

How was your winter? Are you ready for Spring? I know I am. And I think… it might actually be here!  I saw a Robin yesterday, sitting in a frosty tree fluffing up its feathers to keep warm.

Yesterday was frosty, but today is going to be wonderfully warm. The bugs are just starting to stir, but no flowers are blooming … yet. This is the time of year when birds are at risk of having very little food. And not just birds, but beneficial bugs too. In winter, Ladybugs gather together and crawl under mulch to hibernate. If woken too soon, they will have no food to eat and might die (or eat each other). So I am always hesitant about cleaning up my yard too soon and disturbing the Ladybugs.

Here are some things we can do to prepare our yards, whether big or small or even just a balcony, for the Bees this year:

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Crocus

1. Bee very gentle when cleaning up your yard. If there are flowers blooming in your area such as daffodils, crocuses, cherry trees, and other spring flowers, then it’s time to clean up. Many municipalities have a Spring Clean Up period where they will pick up, or you can drop off, your yard waste. If there are no flowers yet, or not many, then just sit back and enjoy the weather and leave the mulch and fallen leaves for a few more weeks.

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Grape Hyacinth

2. Look for Bee’s nests. When cleaning up your yard, consider a compost bin. Check for ladybugs under any mulch. Some bees also overwinter in underground nests. A fun activity for your kids (or you) is to try to find these nests. These are small piles of dirt with a hole in the middle. Here is a good article that describes these Bees. If you find these nests, mark the area with a stick in your yard so you don’t disturb them when digging or planting.

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Bee on a Sedum (Stonecrop) flower

3. Find flowers and plants that are good for Bees. Check with your local garden shop on what types of flowers are good for attracting Bees, Butterflies, and Birds. Bees need both nectar and pollen producing flowers. Here is a good article that lists five plants to consider. Of these, I have planted Rockcress, Lavender, and Grape Hyacinth in my yard. It is best to buy native plants or heirloom varieties, as some hybrids are sterile. Local flowers are the best food for local bees.

4. Consider growing wild flowers. Clover is an excellent alternative to your plain boring grass. 🙂 Not only does it provide a soft ground cover, but Bees love clover flowers! Dandelions are also good for providing early food for Bees. Once the flowers are spent on them, pick off the heads so you don’t spread seeds to your neighbours yard – or better yet, try to convince your neighbours that Dandelions are essential flowers. Bee sneaky – 🙂 create a space in your yard and transplant dandelions there, so they are bright and showy. Other wild flowers that grow in my area are Goldenrod, Phlox, Vetch, and Asters. For wildflowers, you can also check around for any new housing developments or other construction in your area that are just beginning as there may be wildflowers you can transplant to your yard or into a pot or planter (ask permission of the landowner first).

5. Plan your garden. This is a great time to grab your colourful garden books, go to the Library, go to a good site such as this one, and go to your local Garden shop. Make a list of five plants you can place in your own yard or balcony for the Bees.  What five plants will you choose?

Happy planting! and 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! 😀

 

 

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. 😀