Friday, February 25, 2011

Black and Yellow Bumble Bee on Blue Salvia


I had 2 Bumble Bees on my blue salvia this morning. I don’t often see them here. There are so beautiful.


I carried these plants inside each night for a couple of months to keep them from freezing. I had 2 Salvia and 2 milkweed plants that I put out each day for the butterflies. Everything else had been killed by the frost.

I haven’t had any Monarch Butterflies  in  a few days…but the bees are enjoying the salvia.


My back yard sounds a bit like a jungle with the birds in the background. Palm trees and wetlands…..”our little piece of the jungle”.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Painted Buntings at the feeder

I’ve had Painted Buntings coming to the feeders for a few years now.


The most males in full color that I have seen at one time, this year, is 2. Although, the green bird sharing the feeder has a bit of color on it’s breast and may be a juvenile male.010cs

They are very skittish birds. If I get anywhere near the door or window they depart in a hurry. These photos aren’t the best because I was shooting from inside and about 4’ from the window.  They are dark because the window is tinted. This male has a bright yellow on it’s back….in some males it’s more orange.


You can see how quickly then come and go in this video.

Maybe next time I’ll have a picture of an Indigo Bunting. I’ve seen one male, but he must have been a juvenile…he wasn’t showing the vibrant blue, but a combination of blue and brown. Still a beautiful bird.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cape Honeysuckle and Honey Bee

I was happy to see the Honey Bee come to the Cape Honeysuckle for pollen. I didn’t think they would be able to get nectar since the bloom is so long. But…..this little bee surprised me.

It is a small plant and I never had more than 4 Honey Bees on it at the same time. What is interesting is…if one came in and went to the stamens for pollen…it never attempted to go inside for nectar …..and if a bee came in and immediately went inside….it didn’t pay any attention to the stamen. They would go from flower to flower and never deter from their specific job.

I planted this Cape Honeysuckle for the Hummingbirds….but I can see it is definitely going to be doing double duty.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Honey Bee on Cape Honeysuckle

My friend, Debbie, called me a few days ago from a place where she gets many of her plants. They had some nice Cape Honeysuckle and wanted to know if I wanted one. I did, so she picked one up for me.

I haven’t decided where to plant it yet. It is so pretty I think I want it in the backyard where I spend most of my time.

I bought it for the Hummingbirds. It is supposed to bloom fall and winter and will be a good addition to the hanging feeder.

I am also trying to get a couple of swarms of bees for my 2 hives. I was pleased to see this little gal working on the Cape Honeysuckle.


She seemed to be interested in pollen. It rained off and on during the night, so I wasn’t sure how much there would be, but she kept coming back to the flowers.


I think the blossoms are too deep for her to collect nectar and I didn’t see her even try.


The picture doesn’t do the color of the blooms justice. But the color shows up much better in this one.


You can see she is hard at work.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Top Bar Hive with observation window


I don’t have any bees yet, but I hope to be ready before long. I do have one hive set up and Jim is helping me build a Top Bar Hive with an observation window.


The opening at this end will be for the cleanout tray that slides beneath the wire mesh. The entrance will be at the opposite end. We have to drill the holes for that yet.

There will be a cover over the window on the outside so I can drop it down and see what is going on.

So far….it hasn’t cost us anything. The Plexiglas was leftover from repairing the window in the boat. The hardware cloth was left over from building the screen board for the other hive. The boards are “recycled” 2x6’s that were destined for the dump or burn pile. Jim and I loaded them up and brought them home. We split them in half …making 1 x 6’s. I still have flashing left over from the other hive for the cleanout tray. All the “top bars” are going to be made out of scrap wood also. We are using what we have….hope the bees like it.


Today we were able to get most of the finishing touches on. A door on the observation window.


I have enough “top bars” made to get started. I will  start with just a few and add them as they are needed. Each bar has a strip of wood to act as a guide so the bees will build their comb along that line.


The “follower board” allows me to adjust the size of the hive as the bees continue to raise brood and store honey….and if the “girls” will allow it….I’ll probably be sitting and watching.  Better than TV.


The cleanout tray will slide in and out of the back of the hive. It slides under wire mesh that is too small for the bees to get thru but big enough so the small hive beetles will fall thru. I’ll have either borax or diatamatious earth on it to help destroy the beetles.


Tomorrow Jim will  put  flashing on the top, and then it will need a final coat of paint.

We put 5 entrance holes near the top. Jim made bungs to put in a couple of them. Fewer entrance holes will make it easier for a small colony to defend the hive and it  will be warmer in winter.


Wednesday: Well…my “McGyver” did it again.  We were going to cover the top with flashing…but Jim remembered he had this old door out back. It is all that is left of a shed that was flattened by 3 big trees during Hurricane Charlie. It was the only thing we lost during the 3 storms that hit us: Charlie, Francis & Jean.001cs

This is the final result. Jim salvaged part of the hinges for arrows . He says it’s pointing the way to the entrance for the bees….….I think he just wants me to know which end goes to the front.


Well…the paint is dry…top bars and follower board in place …and the top is on….This is what it looks like sitting in place. Can you tell I put a dab of pink in the paint? It’s sitting on the old stand. Jim enlarged it for the TBH, and made a new one for the Langs. The coffee cans have a small amount of used motor oil in them to discourage the fire ants from trying to climb into the hive.


Nope….no bees yet….just thought I’d check.