Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Smells Like Bacon

At this time of year there is a change in the air around my bee hives. I'm referring to the distinctive scent which I can only describe as being similar to that of raw bacon. In a way, it is raw meat for it emanates from the bodies of unborn drones being ripped from their cells and tossed outside the hive. Winter preparations by the worker bees include this practice of autumn drone eviction. The boys played no part in gathering honey or pollen for the colony and they will not be allowed to partake of their sisters' provisions. The ground in front of the hives is littered with drone bodies. During the night, my resident skunks will likely clean up. When winter is on the way, there is no social security for male honey bees.

Born and unborn, these honey bee drones were murdered by their sisters.

The area in front of my hives is littered with dead drones.

Worker honey bees harvesting licorice mint nectar.

Goldenrod flowers are one of the later of the nectar crops to bloom.

The honey bee drones may lack a social security safety net, but there are two animals in my neighbourhood that are covered. Feral tomcat, Ginger Tom and young red squirrel, Timmy, do get a pension of sorts.

Ginger Tom has been demoted in the pecking order of the feral tom cat community. The younger and stronger black and white cat I call "Chico" calls the shots now. Some weeks back I noticed that Ginger Tom was limping along with a forepaw held well off the ground. There was a fresh scar on his forehead and his thin frame made quite a pathetic picture. How could anyone deny the poor lad a war pension? He knows that if he waits on my deck in the early morning or early evening, a meal allowance will materialize. So far, he hasn't rewarded me with a friendly meow or a cat's version of a smile -- the upward tail. When I go outside with his meal tray, he hides under the deck and doesn't come out until he hears the door shut behind me after I go back into the house. But I don't begrudge him this simple fund. We all need a little help at times.
Ginger Tom nervously checks over his shoulder.

A more virile looking Ginger Tom in January, 2014.

Today with thinner cheeks and a lighter summer coat, the ear scars are the same.

Waiting for the soup kitchen to open.

His paw has obviously healed well enough to climb and peer into my window.

Young red squirrel, Timmy, is another matter entirely. His left hind foot is missing. There is only a short stump attached to that hip and it appears to have healed over from some injury. There is no sign of parent or sibling. I suspect he is his family's only survivor. He can't manage branch leaps with only one hind foot. When upset that a cat is nearby, he chatters and stamps both his real foot and his imaginary one. I suppose the sunflower seeds and peanuts he receives here will help, but I doubt that his long term chances of survival are good.

Young red squirrel, Timmy, is missing most of his left hind leg.

He will need good luck as well as a disability allowance to survive the winter.


  1. I love your story today, I had not thought of the feeding of a stray cat as proving them with their pension!!! Darling Ginger Boy, and Boris, both strays that we have taken under our wing, are so special, and your Tom is no exception. How could we ignore their need for the very basics in life, a warm bed, a roof over their head, and food for sustenance. The drones, I learn something new every day, and your close-up pic is superb.

  2. How nice you are to be handing out pensions to those worthy little critters! I have a bee story for you. At the old house we have a bush of Japanese Knotweed I think it's called. Every fall, hubby cut it right to the ground and it grew back over the summer, flowered in August and my, how the bees loved its flowers. I was up there recently and tried to clean the window outside right by the bush. Just like a hive...you should have heard the buzzing and I was a little nervous actually being close to so many active bees. Pretty soon they will start to slow down and some of them even will seem to get stuck in a flower and stay there. We wondered about keeping the bush but because of the bees we always did.

  3. You are a good person. You told a lovely tale. It's life, and death. And the strong will survive. We were talkig about how much we miss our Bully Buster. Loved us, but horrid with his sisters. sigh.


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