Category Archives: Bees

Birds and Bees

Hello everyone. I just thought I would share a few stories from this past week.

Fledging

Early this spring I watched for several days as a pair of robins flew in and out of our arborvitae bushes carrying building materials. I was hesitantly excited about having baby birds hatched in the bushes that I view from my kitchen window. I say hesitantly because these bushes are not always the best place to support a nest. High winds have a tendency to bend the branches. In past years I have seen eggs that have fallen from a nest under those bushes as well as baby birds that have fallen from the nest and died. Cats that roam the neighborhood also like to hide under those bushes and sometimes climb them.

After watching that pair of robins building their nest this spring they seemed to disappear for a while. I wondered if they had abandoned their nest. It was over a week ago when I noticed the pair coming and going again this time carrying food. I knew there were babies in the nest.

Sunday evening Ruby and Ranger were outside on the deck, and I was sitting at my desk. The window next to me gave me a clear view of the deck, the courtyard and the arborvitaes. Suddenly Ranger and Ruby went running down into the courtyard. As they did two birds came flying out of the arborvitae. One was an adult robin which flew up into the maple tree. The other was this baby which landed in the grass.

I watched it as it sat there for a while just looking sort of confused. Then it began to hop around in the grass. The adult robin stayed in the area observing what was happing with its young one. I’m not sure if it was time for this baby the fledge or if the dog’s sudden movement startled the birds and it accidentally tumbled out. I haven’t seen it around since nor have I seen the parents so I am not certain if this baby lived or not. I have, however, concluded that since the parents did not return, this was the only baby in the nest.

Swarm

Sunday evening my husband was sitting at the picnic table under the big oak tree. He said he could hear a lot of bees buzzing, and when he looked up, he spotted this large swarm of bees that had landed in the oak tree.

He wasn’t prepared to capture them that evening but decided if they were still there Monday morning he would because A) these bees came from our son-in-law’s hive that had survived last winter so they are apparently a hardy breed of bees. B) We had friends from out of state who were coming for a visit and picnic at the farm Monday afternoon, and we didn’t want bees buzzing overhead as we visited and ate.

The swarm was still in the oak tree on Monday morning so he took my camera to get a picture of them before he captured and rehomed them in this hive.

By the time we set up for our picnic only a few bees remained in the area.

Mourning

I think it was Thursday or Friday that my husband told me about a lone Canadian goose he spotted wandering in the field next to our property.

On Saturday when we arrived at the farm the goose was sitting in the grass near the pond. As we and the dogs went about our business we were surprised that the goose did not fly off. He just relocated in an out-of-the-way, wooded area where many of the chickens were hanging out.

He didn’t seem injured or ill but we didn’t see him eating and when my husband offered chicken feed and water he just hissed at my husband. He also hissed at Ruby and Ranger if they got too close. Just a warning that he wanted to be left alone.

When I did some online reading about geese, I found out that geese mate for life and if they lose a mate they will go into mourning, often wandering around looking for their partner. They may isolate themselves and not eat. I suspect that this guy lost his mate. I suspect they were nesting near our neighbor’s pond and his mate, and perhaps babies if they had any, fell victim to a fox. Heartbreaking.

The above picture was taken on Monday. He was still there when we were getting ready to have friends over. I decided to try to get him to leave the beach area since we wanted to be able to enjoy the beach with our company. As I approached the area where he was swimming Ruby came running up as well. When Mr. Goose saw Ruby making her quick approach he instinctively took to the sky. We were very happy to see him fly off. He first flew east then a couple minutes later he flew back over heading west. Hopefully he will join up with a flock and find a new mate.

Thanks for visiting!

The Fence is Finished and Other Things

Last week we had, what my husband referred to as, the soft opening. He had completed fencing the perimeter of our property. The only thing left to do was put up the gate across the driveway. Until he could get that done, he made a makeshift gate by using a piece of the fencing to extend across the driveway and clamping it closed.

Difficult to see but there is fence across the driveway.
Front of the property looking east
Front fence looking to the west from driveway.

Putting up the grate took a few days. First my husband rented a post hole digger to make the holes for the wooden posts. Then he had to measure the depth of the holes while putting the posts in and filling in around them with quickcrete (cement). On top of the quickcrete he put stone then topped it with soil. He used a level to assure that the posts were straight. Once they were in place he left them for a few days to let the cement set up. On May 2 he attached the gate to the posts and the project was complete.

From the inside looking out.
From the outside looking in.
The fence in this photo surrounds the front garden. It is not part of the perimeter fence.

All of the rain that we have had in the past week has the ground saturated. We now have pooling water everywhere.

We have a bumper crop of dandelions this year.

Even though we have been wishing for the temperature to hurry and warm up there are some good things about the cooler temperatures.

The apple trees have not blossomed yet thus reducing the likelihood that they will suffer damage from heavy frost or freeze when in bloom.

The forsythias have enjoyed a long bloom time because of the cooler temperatures,

as have the daffodils.

For years my primrose plants have struggled just to survive. Last fall, after learning that primrose like wet soil, I decided to move my plants to a lower area in the prayer garden.

Already this spring they are thriving.

Our old chicken coop is still standing. Tearing it down is on our to-do list but has not yet become a priority. My husband had leaned the old gate from the chicken yard up againt the front of the old coop.

Earlier this week he noticed that a bird, most likely a robin, has built a nest on top of the gate.

I couldn’t see inside the nest while standing on the ground, but I was able to get a look inside by holding my camera up above the nest and taking a picture. This was two days ago, maybe I’ll take another picture today.

On April 23 our bees arrived. We had lost all three of our hives over the winter. We decided to start just one new hive this year.

They have been very busy this week – enjoying the dandelions.

Our old hens are enjoying springtime. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that at least six of the nine are laying eggs. I really only expected that four were still of laying age, but somedays we find six eggs. ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s a cute story: last week while working in the barn my husband found, in a dark corner, a nest with seven eggs in it. One of our black hens has been sneaking in there and laying her eggs. Apparently, she was getting ready to brood some chicks. Sadly, he had to get rid of the eggs because we haven’t had a rooster since last November, so none would be fertile. Perhaps next year, when our new roosters are mature, she will try again.

Our young chicks are enjoying life at the farm as well.

We are experiencing a lovely day today as it seems like are warmer temperatures have finally arrived, so I’m heading outdoors to get some things done. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Thanks for visiting.

Lavender In Bloom

My sister sent me this meme yesterday.

I replied, “You know me well.” ๐Ÿ™‚

Our lavender is blossoming right now.

It takes up a large portion of our prayer garden and is lovely in contrast with the red roses and the yellow evening primrose which are also in bloom.

The lavender is a favorite of the bees.

While the honeybees were indulging as well, the bumble bees were the ones that I could capture in my photos.

I do regret that there is no feature that allows me to share their wonderful fragrance with you over the internet.

Thanks for visiting.

Best Bees

Yesterday when my husband was doing some work with the bees, he called and asked me to share this message for him on my blog.

“The Carniolan honey bees (which are the breed we are raising this year) are the nicest bees.” In the past we have raised other breeds of bees and have found varying degrees of aggressiveness when working in the hives. He has not experienced any aggressiveness while working with these. According to this site their temperament is only one of the favorable traits of the Carniolan bees, but for us much of that remains to be seen. At this point we are pleased with our decision to keep this breed and if they survive though winter we will be thrilled.

Turning The Corner

As we turn the corner toward summer I’m going to back up into May and share some of the things that I didn’t get a chance to blog about as they were happening.

MOTHER’S DAY

Sunday, May 8th was the perfect day for the Mother’s Day picnic we had planned at the farm. Before going to the farm, I took a short walk in our back yard to see if the trilliums were coming up in the woods. My mom loved trilliums and each year on Mother’s Day I look for the trilliums because they are normally in bloom. This year they were not.

All of our spring blossoms are running about two weeks later than normal this year due to cool and wet weather conditions. Our cherry tree was full of blossoms the week of May 8th and buzzing with pollinators. Last year on April 21st I blogged that our cherry tree was blossoming, and we were worried about freezing temperatures that were in the forecast.

My two youngest daughters came out for the picnic. They brought me this t-shirt from all four of my girls.

Love you girls! ๐Ÿ’ž

RAISED GARDEN BEDS

I had mentioned in a previous post that we decided to plant some of our garden in raised beds this year. With prices skyrocketing, buying lumber to use as garden beds was not an option.

We decided to use something that we had on hand and were not using for anything else -barrels.

My husband cut the barrels into various sizes.

The portions that had a bottom in them he also drilled weep holes to allow for drainage.

We put paper bags on the ground before placing the barrel pieces in place. This will keep weeds from growing up around the garden beds. After we placed the beds in place we added a layer of pea gravel to help with drainage. We then added our soil mixture which included some topsoil and sand.

The tomatoes were planted deep in the barrel to help protect them from the elements.

They continue to grow upward, reaching toward the sun.

Marigolds are said to help protect against various pests so we planted some with tomatoes and peppers.

We also planted green bean, beet and carrot seeds – they have begun to sprout. Some of the beds are awaiting the arrival of our new strawberry plants.

OTHER GARDEN NEWS

The cabbage that we had planted in the ground, earlier in May, is looking good,

as are the potatoes.

This past weekend my husband finished planting tomatoes, peppers and eggplants. He has also planted sweet corn, a patch of buckwheat and a patch of alfalfa.

The garlic is up and looking good.

My husband finished up the blueberry patch. It is now robin-proof (we hope). Bring on the berries!

The apple trees blossomed and are now making fruit.

IRRIGATION

This pump is placed in the pond to pump water out. It is run by the windmill.

I don’t remember what day it was when my husband put the pump in the pond (sometime in the first half of the month). I do remember that, in my opinion, the water was not warm enough to be in.

I think my husband agreed.

One hose connects from the windmill to the pump. It pumps air into the pump when the windmill turns. Water comes out another hose that is connected to the pump. We run that hose into a tank like the one in the picture below.

These tanks are raised above ground level and a garden hose is connected to a spigot near the bottom of the tank. When we open the spigot gravity feeds the water though the garden hose, so we are able to water our plants.

BEES

We are not the only ones who have busy. The hives are all very active. After my husband removed the feeders and added new boxes, he said this is the nicest breed of bees he has ever worked with.

BEAUTY

When I left for my vacation the forsythia were still blossoming.

When I returned the lilacs were blossoming.

Their beautiful fragrance carried in the wind.

(I didn’t get a picture of them, but the trilliums were also blossoming at that time.)

My husband discovered these mushrooms growing near the prayer garden. While they look much like a morel, we are not mushroom savvy enough to try them. We decided just to let them be.

WISDOM

Lastly, I wanted to share this message. It’s what my sisters call tea bag wisdom. Some brands of herbal teas print inspirational messages on the tags that are attached to the tea bag. I received this message on my tea bag about a week ago.

Thanks for visiting.

Are you doing any gardening this year?

Are you ready for summer?