Sunday, 28 September 2014

Honey Bee Picnic

Today was lovely! Sunny and warm. A perfect day for a picnic. So I laid one on. But not with sandwiches, cupcakes and lemonade on a red gingham table cloth. Instead I made little troughs from unassembled honey frame bottoms and drizzled sugar syrup into them. I placed them over a serving tray to catch any sticky drips and then set the offering on my deck.

Before long a few honey bees dropped in.

They filled up, returned to their respective hives and spread the word.

About fifteen minutes later. The crowd is increasing.

Some gathered in little groups.

As the afternoon wore on, more and more arrived.

Each guest was polite and peaceful. No pushing or fighting. I quite enjoyed watching them slurping up the treat as I sat beside them in the afternoon sun. So little effort on my part to please so many little foragers.

Their harvest season is almost over and flower sources are now greatly diminished. This convenient picnic will help them conserve winter stores. And next summer -- if winter is kind to them -- they will provide me with their delicious gift of wildflower honey.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Morning Ramble

Today while my porridge was cooling, I took an early morning walk on some trails I've bush-hogged on our property. Of course, I packed along my camera and took a few snaps.

Tramping west on a foggy morning.

The fog lifts to reveal our hardwood bush at the end of the lane.

Heading north through the pine plantation.

South bound towards the row of poplars.

Wild grapes are abundant and festoon trees and fences.

Robins were snacking on these before I walked by.

Looking back at the poplars and a row of New England asters.

Honey bees were foraging on the late season blooms.

Parotid glands on this little toad make him unpleasant tasting to potential predators.

If one has a pair of sound legs, I think a morning walk is the absolute best form of exercise. And of course, flora and fauna sightings are a bonus.

Monday, 15 September 2014

The Party's Over, Boys!

Sad news for the honey bee drones. The party is over!

On average, you chaps lived about twice as long as your sisters. You didn't have to work at all for your food, while your sisters worked their wings to a fray to feed the colony. You could enter any hive with impunity while the girls would be driven off if they tried to visit any hive but their own. Your sisters fed you and cleaned up after you and protected you (you don't even have a stinger) and kept you warm. Until now! The days are getting shorter and colder and forage is drying up. Your genetic material is no longer needed this year. Your brothers who did manage to donate to the gene pool have already died upon completion of their duty. You remaining batchelor guys are now simply a liability. You must go! Yes, all of you!

Murdered honey bee drones. Some were pulled, unborn, from their cells.

Rest in peace little guy. Hope you enjoyed your privileged life.

Don't envy your sisters, lads. They must toil on. They are searching out remaining blossoms before the frost comes and puts an end to the harvest. Many will be slaughtered by spiders and ambush bugs and birds. They are rearranging their storage and are bravely defending their precious food supply against marauders. A long cold winter awaits and there will be many who will not survive.

Ahead, hard months face the girls. And if they succeed in pulling the colony through the winter, they will pamper your grandsons and grandnephews next summer! Until the days once again shorten. And the boys will feel a sister's antenna tap them on the thorax. Which will proclaim, "Sorry lads, the party is over."

The bee at left is hauling in plant resin to seal out winter drafts.

White field asters are one of the last flowers to bloom.

Some goldenrod blooms are still open for business.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Breakfast In The Garden

This morning I took a stroll into the garden to see who might be having breakfast there. There was the usual flutter of finches among the stalks of now seed-bearing cosmos and coreopsis. Also a downy woodpecker was pecking through a sunflower, checking for insects that might be burrowing into the sunflower seeds.

An American goldfinch checks for goodies.

Another two forage nearby.

A male downy woodpecker rummages through a sunflower's seeds.

Okay you grubs, come to Papa!

A honey bee pauses to wipe an antenna.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

There Go The Groceries!

It's shortly after daybreak. The regular feeder birds trickle in to their faithful little plastic feeder for breakfast.

Change of plan. The bluejays have now finished raising their brood and are busily collecting and storing food for the winter.

Say goodbye to the groceries, boys!