Monday, December 15, 2014

Momma Raccoon with her 3 kits 12.15.14

I have a compost pile that has been frequented by a Raccoon every afternoon.

Today I saw these cute little guys…

snapshot_002 2 kidscs

At first I thought it was a set of twins….but as I watched them I realized this was the Momma. She was always on alert for danger.

snapshot_002 Mommacs

Here you can see 2 of the little ones…..Momma is finding something to eat. The third little one is just visible over the top of the kit on the left.


Here is a short video of them feeding. This is the first time I have seen the family. Momma must have been coming in alone until the kits became big enough to join her.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Honey Bees on blue wildflowers 11.17.14

I noticed these flowers last year while on a bike ride.

The Honey Bees were working them pretty hard so I dug up a few and planted them in my yard. Not only do the bees like them…..they smell wonderful. This bush is just outside my bedroom window.


This is the first I’ve seen the bees on them. There is so much food out there.


Here are a couple hard at work. They go from flower to flower.


I did not see any gathering pollen from these flowers. Her abdomen looks pretty full….she’ll be heading back to the hive shortly.


They are such beautiful little creatures.




The camera does not do the color of the flowers justice. They are really a beautiful baby blue.

Looks like you are stuck looking at Honey Bees for awhile.

Gulf Fritillaries

This Gulf Fritillary pupated on the side of the Butterfly House.

Here she is just starting to emerge.




No matter how many times I watch butterflies emerge I am always amazed.

I think the underside of the wings are even prettier than the outside…


These 3 pupated in the top of the cage and all 3 emerged within minutes of each other.


The Passion Flower Vine is their larval plant.


These are the flowers.


I’ve got 2 more pots of them started. I hope to put several in the ground in the spring and have them grow around some of the Cabbage Palms.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Veteran’s Day

Thanks to all who have served to protect our country and give us all the freedoms that we have.

It’s not an eagle…


We were sure surprised when it picked our flag to sit on…


and then looked at me as if wondering if I got the picture.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Wild Asters starting to bloom 11.5.14

I noticed that a few of my Asters were starting to bloom. today I saw a few Honey Bees working them.


The flowers are a pale blue/lavender color with a bright yellow center. My camera does not pick up the beautiful  color.


They grow wild around here and my neighbor has a big stand of them. Last year he let me dig up some to put around my yard.


They are growing…these are a few of them. Most are not open yet. I am hoping that they will reseed and continue to expand their area.


Maybe next year I will have several large stands of them. I like planting “bee food” and especially if it is a wild flower that will come back every year…bigger and better.

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.


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.


Here’s another….


Isn’t she beautiful?


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


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.


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.


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?


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.


and it changes every few minutes….


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


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.


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.


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


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


A few hours later they are exercising their wings.


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.


You can see the algae and how they use it.


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


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


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


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.


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”.


This is looking out….


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.


Most are gathering nectar.


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


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.