bee on sidonie lavender

Bee Swarm and New Queens

A bit over a month ago an enormous buzzing brought me running to see the sky clouded with bees, which quickly started to coalesce into blobs on the trees.
bee swarm in tree
After about 15 minutes they had settled into two biggish blobs on trees a few meters apart. We thought we had probably already had one swarm from Beresford’s hive, so we didn’t want to lose any more. Quickly setting up a ladder we collected the two blobs into buckets, and tipped one into a new hive, and the other into a new super separated by a sheet of newspaper from Eleanor’s hive, which wasn’t doing as well and had seemed more susceptible to Varroa.

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Bee Hive in Spring

In a window of sunshine amid clouds and rain last weekend we opened the beehives. Beresford’s hive was full of brood, with only a bit of honey left. Luckily we were prepared for this as it was exactly what our beekeeping friend had thought might happen, so we gave the hive sugar water and pollen substitute. This seemed to go down well.

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Breakfast for Bees

I was surprised the other morning as I walked around the garden listening and looking to see what the bees were enjoying most this week. Hundreds of bees were leaving and returning to the hive, ignoring the blazing mass of goldenrod, dahlias, coreopsis, and heleniums I have planted, not to mention the masses of wild carrot and thistles which have edged in to take advantage of the new compost.

The blue mist and the sedums down the driveway were happily filled with bumble bees, but not many honeys. When I arrived at the Louisa plum trees the reason was clear, fruit was the breakfast choice. On the tree and on the ground, the overripe and bird-pecked plums were full of bees. Not a wasp in sight, only bees.

bees on bird pecked fruit plums

I haven’t seen this before, but several things are different this year. We have had unusual cold weather – it’s now been now confirmed that it has been 1 degree colder than the norm this summer. We also have seen none of the Vespula wasps which often infest the area at this time of year. And it’s the first year that the Louisas have had a good crop of fruit.

Later in the day, as C was cooking second breakfast, the bees were having lunch in the asters.

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bumble bee on dianthus

Flowers for Bees in mid Summer

Artichokes, scarlet runner beans, pumpkin, zucchini, tomatillos and other vegetables,  herbs, and flowers were full of bees in January.

Scarlet runner beans are so pretty and useful. This year I collected the mature beans to try as dried beans, since they get past it so quickly. The dried beans are very pretty, but I have yet to taste them.

bumble bee on scarlet runnerOregano flowers are extra popular.

honey bee on oregano

bumble bee on oregano

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bumble bee on wallflower

Plants for Bees in Early Summer

Each month I’ve tried to photograph the most popular flowers for bees and bumble bees. Summer was a blur of growing and harvesting which is slowing now so I can post some of them.

Soldier poppies, California poppies and some of the later perennial poppies continued into December and later and were often full of bumble bees which blended so well and buried themselves so deep they often looked like part of the flower.

bumble bees on poppies
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