Monday, 10 April 2017

April Buzz

Each Spring, beekeepers in this cold part of the world nervously assess their colony winter survival rates. My reveal was hardly a surprise since I'd been keeping a close eye (well, ear) on them all along. My honey bee hives are located only a few steps from my house.

Last year I had two colonies. One fell silent before winter even began, while it's neighbour buzzed and hummed happily within it's dwelling throughout the frigid months. Both hives had large populations and low mite counts. Both hives were heavy with honey stores. Yesterday's autopsy on the failed hive provided no clue. I could see no sign of disease or robbing. I saw no evidence of mold or excess moisture but simply large clusters of dead bees inside and a pile of dead bees on the ground in front. Were they poisoned? Did something happen to their queen? I may never know.

Meanwhile, I'm very glad to see that it's sister hive is flourishing. Busy little workers are already hauling in water and light yellow pollen and perhaps sap from broken tree branches. From this robust hive I plan to make at least two additional colonies next month

Worker honey bees begin an early morning foray.

As the morning advances, a traffic jam forms at the entrance.

After I widened the entrance, traffic flowed much better.

The girls really hustled and bustled on this warm April day.

Oh little lady, where did you find that butter coloured pollen?

Thursday, 6 April 2017

An Abundance Of Mice

It seems that mice are extra plentiful this year. I recently cleaned and readied over thirty bluebird/tree swallow nesting boxes. At least half of them contained mice nests, some with live mice inside. One box contained the bodies of three mice, which I'm thinking must have been stashed there by something. Coyotes, foxes, owls, hawks and crows all seem plump and happy that mice are abundant. Predators should be able to raise healthy families this year.

This mouse nest had a deluxe bed made of milkweed silk.

Exposed, a meadow mouse peers out in fright before jumping out of the box.

The bodies of two voles and one deer mouse were found in one of the boxes.

I have no ill feelings toward rodents of any kind. In fact I wish them only good health and happiness for the duration of their short lives. They are an important part of nature's food chain and have as much right to life as anyone. That being said, my goodwill does end when they enter my house. I never see any in my living quarters. They would be unwise to risk an encounter with my watch cat, Ellie Mae. But the basement seems to be a point of entry for them and that is where I keep a trap waiting with potentially their last meal of sunflower seeds, hot glued to the bait pan. Any mice that are only caught but not fatally injured are released outside. Dead ones are put out for the first taker, which is usually a bluejay.

This cute little chap became the season's 65th mouse trap victim.