Sunday, 26 July 2015

Honey Makers

My honey makers are now at perhaps their busiest season. Nectar is flowing and they are wearing their wings to a frazzle in gathering as much as possible. I like to pull a few honey frames each week throughout the summer and early fall so that I can have a variety of flavours as different flowers come into bloom in their turn. On each harvest day, I spin out and return the honey frames to the respective hives for the bees to lick out and refill. The honey I just extracted is a light coloured, delicately flavoured early variety. I'm guessing it's a nectar blend from the blossoms of raspberry, blackberry, borage, clovers, vetch and wild grape.

A frame filled to this depth yields one litre of liquid honey.

A demure but elegantly charming little vintage with a hint of wild grapes.

Borage flowers are always attractive to honey bees.

Globe thistles are now blooming and abuzz with activity.

Both of my nucleus hives have made very productive queens.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Best Laid Schemes

The following excerpt from the Robert Burns poem, To A Mouse, pretty much sums up my day.

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, gang aft agley.

Today was my appointment with the Ottawa Spay Neuter Clinic to have Fergus (a.k.a. Gus, formerly known as Oscar) neutered. Things went 'agley'. We didn't make it!

Fergus is a feral tom and not nearly tame enough to handle. So I decided the best approach to nab and transport him to the clinic was to trap him. And so for weeks I've been feeding him pieces of roast chicken on a saucer placed on the floor of a disarmed cage trap. Prior to his surgery appointment, I set the trap and filled his dish with an extra succulent helping of roast chicken as well as a bit of cheese for good measure. But as the cage door slammed down behind him, the slippery critter instantly backed up and forced his way back out to freedom. He took off like a scared cat.

A fertile looking Fergus awaiting yet another chicken dinner.

No rendezvous with a scalpel blade today.

So, just in case he might try his luck at outwitting the trap again, I left the trap baited and set. I also set up a closed circuit camera in case an unintentional target -- like a skunk -- might show interest. 

Unfortunately, I dozed off for a few minutes and when I awoke I wasn't pleased with what I saw. A young skunk, perhaps born last year, was trapped. So I put on safety glasses, just in case, and went out to the scene. The cute little fellow didn't seem too upset considering the pickle it was in. I put a rubber sheet over the cage and released the cage door catch. My captive escaped within minutes and left only a slight puff of scent in the air. Such lovely manners!

Standing on the bait pan and looking for a way out.

Watching me come to the rescue.

Licking the dish clean while awaiting freedom.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Easy Living

On this sultry summer day, you can almost hear the strains of the Gershwin aria from Porgy and Bess.

"Summertime, and the livin' is ea-z-z-z-y."

And the easy living extends to the flora and fauna hereabouts. Rains and warmth have brought a bounty of blossoms and berries. My honey bees are now spoiled for choice and so they forage on only the most tasty of the flowers. Currently, they seem to favour raspberry and catnip blooms.

After years of trying to establish hollyhocks, I've finally succeeded.

These showy flowers provide generous servings of pollen to all comers.

Raspberry blossoms are a honey bee's wish come true.

More than felines love this cat mint (nip).

A hummingbird visiting the Monarda flowers.

In this ideal weather, my deck and Aderondak chairs are made well use of. After all, this is summertime and the living (at least for happily retired folk) is easy!

My outdoor living room. The cats prefer to sit under the chairs.

Left to right, Fergus (a.k.a. Gus, formerly known as Oscar) and Ellie Mae.

In the depth of winter, I will fondly remember days such as this.