Monday, April 25, 2022

Walking and Seeing......

My favorite part of the day is when I get to go for a walk. Hmmm. Do I remind you of your dog?! It is nice when my wife can join me, but I enjoy walking alone, too. I don't want to listen to music or a book while I walk. That reminds me.....I know a doctor who used to walk and read a book at the same time. I have seen my mom do the same occasionally. That's not for me. I want to see, hear, smell and enjoy the nature around me. This is usually a pleasant time of year for walking since it is not hot weather and the wildflowers are just starting to show their beauty. 

This was a rare warm day in the 70 degree range and we saw two different Garter Snakes out sunning themselves.

My broom handle walking stick is pointing at our first Trout Lily blossom of the season.

The dainty little blossoms being pointed out by the toe of my shoe are hairy bittercress. I have read that when the seed pods "ripen" and are disturbed (by walking through them, for example) they can hurl their seeds up to 16 feet. I know I don't like to walk in the area when the pods are ready to pop open because I can hear the seeds being hurled as I walk in their midst.

The green broad leaf you see is skunk cabbage. The blossom stage is past and now the leaves are coming up. If you break a leaf and smell it you will know why it is called skunk cabbage.


Marsh marigold is a springtime favorite of mine. It seems to like wet feet, often growing in or very near the water.

The circle indicates a marsh marigold plant budding and not yet blossoming.

I took a more distant picture of the pussy willows to show that they are blooming. Previously they have just been the fuzzy gray we all love to see in a vase indoors reminding us of early springtime. These are just beyond that fuzzy gray stage and are in bloom. As I took the picture I realized the honey bees were working the blooms, so I straddled the ditch so I could get closer and show the honey bees. Zoom in on this picture and you will see the pollen on the bee's back legs! It is the same color pollen I have been seeing bees bring into my hives. So, now I have a good idea what kind of pollen the bees have been bringing in. I like to know such things as a beekeeper and as a nature enthusiast.

The two pictures above show the honey bee working the blossoms and gathering pollen to bring back to her hive. Pollen is used to feed to the larvae inside the hive. It is a source of protein. 

What a blessing to be able to walk and enjoy nature! Thanks for enjoying it with me.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Honey Bee Package Installation Day

Tuesday, April 19 was package bees arrival day. This year the bees I purchased came from California. I wondered if they might beg me to send them back when they realized it was barely in the low 40's here as I dumped them into their respective hives. Often the bees are a little grumpy when installed at such cool temps, but this year all the bees were very calm and it went quite smoothly and uneventfully. I like uneventful when it comes to honey bees and driving. It was nearly a 200 mile round trip to pick up the bees and that was, thankfully, uneventful too. 

Installation is a simple process that seems scary to new beekeepers. The bees sting to defend themselves or defend their home. Packaged bees have not yet adopted a hive as their new home, so they are generally quite docile about being unceremoniously dumped into it. Sometimes in the cool weather some bees will take exception and thank me by stinging or pestering me in a way that makes it clear they are not too happy with me.

Bump the cage so all bees fall to the floor..........
Remove the can of sugar syrup........

Remove the queen bee's cage from the package of bees......

Place the queen in her cage into the hive.......

And shake, shake, shake the bees into the hive. Fun!

Check out my YouTube video where I install a package of honey bees. It doesn't all go smoothly on the video but it all worked out.

Bee Happy! Thanks for reading my blog.


Sunday, April 10, 2022

Early Bloomers and More

Spring blooming witch hazel is a sign that winter is almost finished with us. In our woods we have late fall blooming witch hazel. I enjoy seeing its spidery yellow blossoms long after all other blooming things have frozen.

Snowdrops can often be seen popping up through the snow in late winter. They brighten our day.

The bloom of skunk cabbage, too, can be seen while snow still rests on the ground. It is an early source of pollen for honey bees.


This hellebore, Lenten Rose, is so named because it often blooms between Ash Wednesday and Easter, the season of Lent. It is a new addition to our landscape so I am pleased to see its first ever blossom(s).

Two types of Scilla or Squill here, I believe. They don't seem to mind our woodsy environs and the deer and rabbits do not use them for salad either! 

Our crocuses or croci (both are apparently correct for the plural of crocus) have been staying closed for days on end with the cool, cloudy weather we have been experiencing lately. The sunshine today opened them up and the deep purple ones (two pics up) had a honey bee in one and a fly in the other before I took this picture.

This Canada goose seems to have a broken wing. We have waaay too many geese around and I know they are a nuisance, but I still hate to see any animal (or human) suffer.

As the daylight hours lengthen our chickens get back into egg laying mode. We do have a light on a timer that comes on in the morning, but they sure seem to be happier with longer, slightly warmer days. I have been collecting five eggs per day for the last few days in a row. In mid winter I was getting just two or three.

These are ISA Browns. I started them from day old chicks two years ago. It was hard to find chicks at that time due to the pandemic. Everyone wanted to have chickens in case of food shortages. I had to eliminate one hen recently because it did not seem healthy. But, the rest seem quite well, thank you. They sure do squawk a lot when I go outdoors. They want treats, to be let out of their pen, or something, I guess. It can be a little bit annoying at times, but, I like to see them. It makes me feel like I am on a farm and their eggs are delicious.

Thanks to Leighton Twp Library for hosting us and our Maple Syrup Program in early April. It is always fun speaking at their library.

I hope you enjoyed the blog. I'll catch up with you later.




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