Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Summer Mystery

My honey bee colony that managed to survive last winter's brutal cold has now expanded to three. The hive that attempted to swarm earlier had made two queens.

This year's bee yard has three honey bee colonies.

Honey bees harvesting algae from the sides of a stock tank.

I have several watering stations and in this hot weather the honey bees frequent them all. There are two bird baths, a water lily pond and a stock tank. (I no longer keep livestock but the tank is kept filled with water for the vegetable garden.) The worker bees are especially fond of the algae which forms on the insides of the tank. Researchers claim that the freshwater green micro alga chlorella is an important source of protein and nutrients for them. My honey bees love it! Strangely, the native bees don't seem interested at all.

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Now to the subject of this post: A couple of weeks ago I proudly showed off my vegetable garden to a neighour friend. I had worked extra hard with weeding and watering. My two 18 foot rows of beets and swiss chard looked lush and promised many tasty harvests. Then, a few days of showers saved me from having to water the garden and I focused my attention elsewhere. When the weather cleared I took a stroll out to the garden with my weeding kit. Surprise!! My lovely beets and swiss chard were no more! My precious three to four inch seedlings were simply gone! They were all nibbled completely down to the ground. Since I had been running my rotor tiller between the rows, the ground was soft and weedless, so deer tracks should have shown up. There were no visible tracks of any kind. So I don't think the deer were to blame.

In previous years, Boat-Tailed Grackles were my main garden pests. In fact, I no longer plant sunflowers because Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds devour too many seedlings. Grackles also pulled up and ate all of the leaves and stems of some pond lillies I once tried to grow. Anyway, grackles are at the top of my suspect list. But also, there are wild turkeys, rabbits, groundhogs and deer.

I may just plant tomatoes and flower seeds next year. Fussing with garden fencing or nets just doesn't appeal to me any more.

A father Boat-Tailed Grackle with his youngster.

This rabbit has lost the sight in it's left eye.

My dear, did you dine on my garden greens?

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Here are a few snaps of my perennial border at the moment. Some plants have already had their day and others are yet to blossom. (A bit like people, really.)

The stand of bee balm (Monarda) spreads a little more each year.

Creeping Bellflowers make elegant and long-lasting cut flowers.

Phlox blooms wait until the evening to release their lovely scent.

A very tiny native bee (at top of flower) took a long drink of lily nectar.


  1. I anxiously await my phlox!
    Such a beautiful garden. I think I had raccoons in my garden. They'd pull the plants out of the ground!
    I'm happy about your bees, not so much your garden. Take care.

  2. Look under the surface for the culprits eating your plants.

  3. Interesting. I would never have thought that bees would snack on algae. That one eyed bunny just might be the culprit though he doesn't look overly fat. Frustrating isn't it?

  4. Lovely lemon day lily. One year down here we had sparrows eat all the pansies, leaves and petals.We could literally stand and watch them,maybe they lacked something in their normal diet. Super way to have the hives set up, hope you have a great honey season.

  5. So happy for your bees and how interesting that they enjoy the algae. Our tiny ornamental pond is just so algae filled and I see a continual stream of birds there but will have to look closer to see if the bees are enjoying it too.
    Lovely perennials in bloom as you say, each taking their turn. I love that too.
    The deer chew things down here including this year, the tall grass that grows in the pond. I've assumed it is the deer but may be something else. I've put out several watering pans and the little red squirrels are especially enjoying them.

  6. Thanks for stopping by my nearly-dead blog----your garden is lovely and I sympathize about the deer and rabbits. Last week we had a 10-point buck munching away on my flowers. They don't even care when we shout at them to go away. I think they know they are in no danger from hunters in the suburbs!


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