Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Our Bees 11.23.10

Our friends, Debbie & George gave us a call yesterday afternoon and asked if we were interested in a small swarm of Honey Bees that was in their tangerine tree.


It’s not much bigger than a large softball.


The Queen is in the middle of the mass somewhere. They protect her like this until they find a new home.


But what is really unusual is…..they do not sting when swarming. Hard to believe…but it is true. 

Debbie picked me up with her small pickup. We had the hive in the back and moved as close to the swarm as possible. She then gave me a small plastic bin….and a soft bristled brush. I swept the bees into the bin.


then gently dumped them into the hive. They stayed in a big clump and I brushed the stragglers in with them. Notice that I not wearing any beekeeping gear….no gloves or hood.


It was an hour or more before sundown and there would be “scouts” returning to the tree limb so Debbie made a pot of coffee and she, Jim and I relaxed and waited for them to come back. Every 15 minutes or so..we would check the limb….060cs

There would be several there and we’d sweep them into a bag and carry them to the hive.

Once it started to get dark, they all went down into the hive. Debbie had put some honey into the bottom for them to eat.

It’s hard to believe…but we were picking up stragglers that were in the bed of the truck, with our bare hands and putting them gently into the hive. No one got stung….not even once.

The dark section is the “super”…it will be filled with frames like the main hive and will be where they store the honey. The Queen  will remain in the lower portion and lay eggs. For now …it provides a place to put the sugar/water mixture that we will be feeding them.

Debbie drove me home . I rode in the back to steady the hive. When we got home,  Jim and I put the  hive on it’s stand in the back yard…then I prepared a 50/50 mixture of sugar and water in a jar with 3 holes in the top…..they had settled down by the time it was cool. We removed the top….set the inverted jar on a couple of flat sticks so the bees could get under it ….and left them alone the rest of the night.

We’d been in the house about 15 minutes when Jim said “I have a bee on me”….sure enough, a lonely little honey bee was walking down his arm and into his hand. He handed it to me and I carried it “home”.

It was so much fun working with “friendly” bees. It was a chance of a lifetime. The swarm was small enough for us to handle…….low enough in the tree for me to reach……and I may never get to work with a “friendly swarm” again. It was AWSOME!!!     Thanks Debbie & George.

We will have to continue to feed them the sugar/water mixture since they have no h0ney stored for the winter. We do have flowers and they will be  able to work those.  

There is still some work to do….I need to grease the legs of the stand so ants and other insects cant get to the hive. Jim will eventually make something so we can sit the legs in oil for a more permanent fix. Then we have to be on the watch for wax moths…they can kill a hive.

I am so excited….the hive is situated so I can watch them in the early morning sunshine.  They were still here this morning…I hope they like their new home.

I will have all the proper equipment on the next time I work with them. If they stay…..they will have a hive to defend…….and I will be an intruder.

I still can’t believe we had so much fun with BEES!!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly

I’ve had a couple of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies in the yard the last few days.

I didn’t realize how much of this butterflies wings was missing until I saw the photos.066cs

What really caught my eye was it was feeding on my Bougainvillea. The color is striking with the butterflies colors. Normally I don’t see many butterflies other than skippers on it.


This one’s wings were in much better condition.

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Their wing span is about 5”…they are a very big butterfly.  I love their bodies…they look so soft and are beautifully marked.11.3.10 010cs

There must be larval trees in the area……My neighbor, Patti, had an extra Magnolia, a small one, and I’ve planted that in the butterfly area. So ….maybe one day I will find a few Tiger Swallowtail caterpillars on it, that is one of their larval plants.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hag Moth Larvae / Monkey Slug

At least, I think that is what this is. I’ve been through all the caterpillar pictures on www.bugguide.net and this is the closest I can come to it.008cs

It was  on a cherry bush that my sister, JoAnne, gave me. I’m not sure what kind  of cherry it is.


It’s quite small…perhaps 1/2 to 3/4 in long.

I clipped the bush and put it in a container…..

I found this listed under “stinging caterpillars”….don’t think I will pet it to find out.013cs

The feet are like little suctions. Watch it climb up the inside of a jar.

After making the video, I put it back on the bush. 

I am amazed at all the different insects, animals and birds I see in my backyard, here in the Hammock. We have 5 acres but only about 1/4 is cleared and that is where most of my pictures have been taken. Guess I need to get out the hiking boots and the machete and see what I can find out there.

I think a digital camera would be a wonderful gift for a kid.  Encourage them to take pictures of every insect or critter  or unusual or pretty flower and then spend some time on the computer looking them up and learning about them.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Great Golden Digger Wasp

My Tropical Milkweed plants are not just popular with the butterflies.  The Great Golden Digger Wasp has been busy most of the afternoon. I’ve seen two of them working hard on the flowers.001cs


The adults drink nectar.


They are a beneficial insect for the garden. They don’t have hives like other wasps…they paralyze an insect and put it in a burrow..then lay an egg in it. It becomes food for the young.

They didn’t seem to mind me taking pictures of them…they weren't aggressive towards me…

They are really quite pretty.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gopher Tortoise

Jim drove in the yard..blowing the horn…and yelling “get your camera!!”.  There is a big turtle walking down the road.

We live on a dead-end dirt road. I don’t know where it came from…but it was on a mission and it didn’t want to stop and visit.

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Here is a close up of the boney structures under its neck.  I read that males use this when battling another male …they use it to try and  flip the opponent over onto it’s back.11.3.10 037cs

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It just kept walking…look at the claws!  11.3.10 044cs No wonder they can dig burrows.11.3.10 041cs

I kept trying to figure out a place for it on our property…..but it is illegal to remove them from their home range. 

It looks as if it wanted to see what the camera was and headed right towards me.11.3.10 042cs

Jim took this picture of us so you could see how big it is.

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After the photo op it just kept on walking….11.3.10 039cs

There are tree farms on both sides of this road and on both sides after the cross road. Perhaps it has a mate or knows of one and is headed that way. They can have and use several burrows and may be headed to one of those.  I hope so. I would love to have it stay in the area….and be free to roam.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Eastern Phoebe

It’s may be hard to believe….but I started this blog because of the Painted Buntings that were coming to my feeders. I was so intrigued by their beautiful colors that I had to share them…….from there I’ve gone to anything living in our little space in the hammock.

This Eastern Phoebe has been hanging around for a couple of weeks. In the past I saw it only once. Now I am watching it catch insects near the boat…off the awning of the camper and flying down to scoop them up in the yard.011cs

The Brazillian Pepper trees are blooming and they are buzzing with Honey Bees. I hope we have enough insects to keep it away from them.012cs

Since we use no insect sprays in our area…..we probably have plenty.013cs

As you can see….most of the leaves have fallen from the tree….it is fall in the Hammock.015cs

I think it has fallen in love with the awing on the camper. It sits there most of the time and has a great view of the yard.