Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Eviction Notice

As I walked past my strongest honey bee hive this morning, I could smell fresh meat. And I knew, given the time of year, exactly what that meant. The drones are being evicted. The smell of fresh meat is from the unborn male honey bees being ripped out of their brood cells (often in pieces), dragged out of the hive and dropped in the nearby grass by their sisters. Adult drones will be harassed, bitten and even stung until they leave the hive and perish.

The season is over for raising queens and so drone reproduction service is no longer required. As far as their sisters are concerned, they are not only useless but freeloaders. Having no hand in gathering groceries, they will enjoy no meals or group warmth this winter. When the snow blankets the land, the hive will be a 'girl's only' club -- a grim fact not revealed in the 2007 animated film, Bee Movie, starring Barry the Bee (voice by Jerry Seinfeld).

A drone finds his sisters have become hostile towards him.

As a sister bites his antenna, another worker (top right) threatens with open jaws.

Two workers nip at their defenseless brother.

A worker displays open jaws and points her foreleg as if proclaiming "You must go!".

Former drone eviction post, The Party's Over, Boys! 

Friday, 21 August 2015

Backyard Moments

The branches of my mountain ash tree are bending with the weight of bountiful, orange-red berry clusters. Robins and cedar waxwings are gulping down all they can for themselves and to carry back to their nestlings. This particular tree grew from a seed that a squirrel had planted in my sister's back yard. When it reached it's sapling stage, she dug it up and my brother transported it in his van to where it now grows, in my back lawn. Over the years it has been such a hit with the wildlife that I've planted twenty-five more. In years to come, they will also draw the berry loving crowd.

Cedar waxwings love these mountain ash berries.

A female sapsucker has a drilling project on this sumac trunk.

This male goldfinch shows signs of injury but still manages to get about.

Mother red squirrel lunching at the new feeder. I look forward to seeing her youngsters.

Sunday, 16 August 2015


'Hoarder' is far from a flattering term, so I like to think of myself as 'a moderate pack rat'. I fondly remember the frugal and often repeated words of a former neighbour, "There's a heap of service left in that thing yet!".

And so I've saved the cut away portions of my 'deeps' to make all of my beekeeping boxes a smaller, uniform size. (As the wise Michael Bush says, 'Friends don't let friends lift deeps'.) These short pieces are useful to add to medium sized boxes to accommodate deep frames, should the need arise. This week I found another purpose for one of them -- a new bird feeder.

Three cut away portions from honey bee 'brood boxes' await reassignment.

With the addition of some spare lumber and paint, a bird feeder takes shape.

A coat of paint is left to dry overnight in the good old workshop.

Accessorized with a nectar feeder and side trays made from salvaged honey frames.

And here is my first patron at the grand opening of the new dining establishment.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Poppy Admiration

Valued mostly for pollen (for my honey bees) and for cut flowers (for my table), my garden poppies are now at their flamboyant best.

Like exotic butterflies, my poppies seem to hover and dance in a gentle breeze.

A fresh bloom that looks like crinkled ivory silk, stained with powdered rouge.

Each form and colour competes for pollinator attention.

How could a bee possibly resist these luscious hues?

Golden pollen served atop a crepe paper confection in Princess Pink.

Pollen splashes on salmon veined petals.

A slight line up at the left hand poppy-mart checkout counter.