Monday, October 20, 2014

Honey Bees on bushes along the road 10.19.14

I never did find out what kind of bushes these were but they start blooming just as the Brazilian Pepper Bushes are starting to go out.

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They’ve been allowed to take over the tree farm in an area they are not using right now. I will hate to see them go.

Several Honey Bees were gathering pollen and I watched my hives and they are bringing it in.

Her little pollen baskets are almost full.

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Here’s another….

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Isn’t she beautiful?

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They have to visit a lot of these little flowers to get enough to bring home.

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Not all are collecting pollen. They do not need as much this late in the year as their egg laying slows down and there are not as many larva to feed.

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There are at least 4 Honey Bees in this picture. One is near the bottom hidden by the flowers but you can find her if you look hard.

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This is probably the last major bloom here for awhile. The wild Asters are nicely budded but not blooming yet. There is still a lot of Spanish Needle and some yellow flowers they are working.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Many faces of the Squirrel Box 10.15.14

This was on old duck or owl box that my sister, Joanne, gave me many years ago. We decided to put it up for the squirrels.

When we got back from our NY trip we were surprised to find a swarm of Honey Bees had moved in.

Each time I look at it the face changes….

Mutton Chops?

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Most of these are taken in the morning when all the bees are home. It’s about 8 am and the sun hasn’t hit the hive yet.

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and it changes every few minutes….

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I really like that little chain of bees in the picture above but a few minutes later it had changed to this….

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Not quite so many bees now ….the sun is out and they are out foraging. You can see there is a hole in the front corner. The main entrance is a hole about 4” in diameter… you can just make it out above the block of wood on the front.

018csAt 4 this afternoon it is possible to see the entrance hole and the hole in the lower front corner…the bees are busy at work.

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This video shows a little of the action at the box. It has 3 times of day….early morning, mid day and afternoon.

It’s an old box and 3 of the corners have rotted out, but the bees don’t seem to mind. Our winters here are not like up North. We do get down into the 30’s at times and have frost but normally it is at least 60 in the afternoon.

They chose this spot for a home and I love watching them, but Jim has to “suit up” to mow near them. They haven’t bothered him all summer and the last 2 times he mowed….. but there was one time when they did. Luckily he had just suited up to mow in front of the other hives. So now we don’t dare take a chance.

We would put them in a hive if we knew how to get it down. They are about 15’ in the air. We have a friend who would love to have them but, so far, we haven't figured out how to do it without ticking off a big bunch of bees. That box has to be very heavy. I doubt one of us could carry it down a big step ladder without dropping it …..and that would really make for some mad bees. Looks like a job for professionals…someone who has done this before.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Butterfly House 10.13.14

It looks like laundry day….all those beautiful butterflies hung out to dry.

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A beautiful male Queen Butterfly. The white dot on the middle of the wing indicates a male.

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You can see the difference in the picture below. This is the same male and a female hanging below.

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A few hours later they are exercising their wings.

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I released 15 butterflies today. There are still a few more Chrysalis.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Honey Bees at the birdbath 10.8.14

The Honey Bee hives need lots of water.

Jim fixed this birdbath with a water line that has a permanent drip so there will always be water in it.

The bees hardly used it even though I put rocks in it for them to sit on. It was getting a lot of algae and I started to pull it out one day. Some of it dangled over the side and I noticed it wicked the water up and was always wet…so I left it. Next thing I knew it was being used.

The hives are just a few feet behind the water source.

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You can see the algae and how they use it.

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Isn’t she a beauty? I don’t know if these are all from my hives or from those in the wild.

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It stays nice and wet and no chance of bees drowning. They are so beautiful!

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It may not be pretty….but it sure is well used.

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This video shows how busy it can get.

I’ve seen squirrels get a drink here…as well as the cats…so I took an old birdbath and put it on the ground for the other critters. It sits under the overflow drip so it always has water also.

The rocks are for the bees.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Brazilian Pepper Bush 10.7.14

This Pepper Bush really starts to take over our road…..but Jim can’t cut it back until the bloom is over. Can’t cut “Bee Food”.

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This is looking out….

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This video shows the activity at the hive entrances. My “blue” hive is the best gatherer and is storing lots of nectar and honey. The “pink” hive seems to be working hard but not storing much.

The Top Bar Hive in the middle seems to be doing well.

The “squirrel box” hive is also storing but cannot see what they have. I guess we should get someone to take it and put them in a hive. We do not need another one.

At the end of the video you can see the Honey Bee in the photo below….gathering pollen from the Pepper Bush.

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Most are gathering nectar.

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The blooms are so tiny they must visit thousands during the day.

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Once the Pepper Bush has finished blooming Jim can trim the bushes back. There will be one more bloom on bushes out front along the road. I don’t know what they are but the bees worked them hard last year.

We took a few jars of honey and may take a couple more from the “blue” hive…but want to leave them enough to get them through the lean times so we don’t have to feed them. I’d much rather leave them plenty of their own stores.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Queen Butterfly Caterpillars 10.2.14

I started noticing tiny Queen caterpillars on my milkweed. By the time I finished  gathering them I had almost 50.

I fed them on the Tropical Milkweed for a few days. Once they started to get some size I brought in my Giant Milkweed.

The plants were so tall I took cuttings and put them in rooting compound to start new ones. I let the caterpillars eat the leaves.

I took these on 9.30.14

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The 3 pots in the bottom of the photo above are the cuttings. You can see the caterpillars have already munched out a few spots.

5 on just this one leaf.

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Caterpillars of this size don’t take but a couple of days to clean up a plant this big.

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Yesterday I moved them all to some Tropical Milkweed to finish up on. I didn’t want to ruin the Giant Milkweed. That one plant has been feeding caterpillars for a couple of years.

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They should be going to the top any day now.

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They have white, yellow and black stripes and an extra set of “feelers”. When they wilt and hang straight down they are usually about to pupate.

I thought this “J” was beautiful…probably green from the plants reflecting on it. 4 of them went to the top yesterday.

037csThe skin splits just behind it’s head in the middle of the “j”.

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It will keep shrugging until the skin is at the top then it twists around till it throws it off.

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I’ve watched this hundreds of times and I still find it hard to believe a butterfly comes from the green jelly like thing.

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You can see this same chrysalis in the top of the picture.

This afternoon about 20 have made it to the top or are on their way.

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They wander around until they find the perfect spot.

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Tomorrow another 15 or 20 will be ready. It is really something to see when they start to emerge. 20 butterflies in one day..it looks like wash hanging out to dry.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

First Zebra Longwing Chrysalis 9.23.14

The Zebra Longwing caterpillars are much more friendly to each other than either the Monarchs, Queens or Gulf Fritillaries. These seem to prefer being close together. There are 6 just in this one spot. (taken 9.18.14)

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While I was taking pictures of the caterpillars a Gulf Fritillary started to emerge. I keep them in the same Butterfly House since the Passion Vine is the larval plant.

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A few minutes later….

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A few more…..the large abdomen contains fluid that is pumped into the wings.

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It’s getting slimmer….

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You can see the difference between the two bodies in this one. Both chrysalis in the picture had butterflies emerge the same day. You can see they are starting to get clear and lines in the wings are becoming visible in the one on the R.

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Back to the Zebras.  I took this on 9.19.14         Getting bigger.

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Took this on 9.22.14.

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Yesterday I had one take the “J” formation on one of the vines.

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Today it pupated. Pictures aren’t very good…maybe next one will be better. There are 7 others about the same size. Hopefully one will decide the top of the cage will do.

I did notice that it turned a light reddish brown before it pupated.

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It is gradually “shrugging” it’s skin to the top where it will twist around until it throws it off.

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Weird looking little thing.

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I cut these pieces from a wild plant that grows along the road. While looking for tiny caterpillars or eggs I spotted this chrysalis.

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I am glad I’m very careful when taking cuttings. I noticed this yesterday but thought it was a piece of dead leaf….a closer look today revealed it is a Zebra Longwing chrysalis.