Thursday, January 22, 2015

Water for the Honey Bees 1.22.15

I can always tell when it is starting to get dry around here. The Honey Bees really start gathering at the bird bath.

I pull the algae that grows in it over the side for them to sit on. It siphons the water over the edge and waters the plants below.


I think these girls are so beautiful.


When I am out here taking pictures or video they buzz all around me. I am usually in one of their lines of flight. They don’t bother me. I just have to be careful if one gets caught in my hair. When I do…I go get a comb instead of using my fingers. It saves the bee and I don’t get stung.

It isn’t very pretty….but it keeps the bees from drowning.


Pretty doesn’t count unless it is the bees, raccoons, armadillos etc.

I think the two bees with the yellow fuzz on their backs may be young bees.


I think the constant contact in the hive…walking over each other must wear some of the fuzz off.

041csNot all the Honey Bees at the bird bath are from my hives. I would imagine most are.. but there are several swarms out there that came from my hives and they know where the bird bath is.


The bees each have their own jobs. These are water bees and they can work right around that flower and never bother with it.



I am able to watch the Painted Buntings come to the feeder…


and my beehives at the same time while having coffee in the morning. My “blue” hive is on the left of the Top Bar Hive and right behind the Jatropa bush. I had to remove a few leaves so I could see the hive entrance.021cs

I love the birds…the bees…the bats…and the butterflies that come here…and all the furry little critters too.

Here’s a little video of the “bee fountain”.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Another Dead Tree Down 1.12.15

When the leaves are off the trees it is easy to see which ones are going to be trouble in the future. The tops were broken off during the ‘o4 hurricanes and although they survived..they are rotting from the inside out. Jim has already dropped 2 trees and both were hollow.

We had a nice Sabal Palm that was in the path we needed this tree to fall. Jim did everything he could to save it. He used the roots and stump of the tree he dropped on 12.30.14 to hook a rope and come-along to and tried to winch it out of the way…005cs

If the tree went down the wrong side it would deflect it towards our roof…not a good option to save one of many palms in our woods.

He had to get a rope over the limb in the dead tree. It took several trips up and down the ladder….the Palm the ladder is leaning against is the one we had to get out of the way.


Several limbs and clumps of air fern had to be removed to get the line over the branch.


Once that was done…he ran a line from the palm through the woods and hooked it to the pickup…he cut …I backed up …and down it came. Right where he wanted it.

Then we moved the pickup to our yard and did the same thing with the line around the dead tree….he cut..I backed up…and it came down…almost where we wanted it. There was only a small open area and we missed by about 4 feet. It trimmed one of my Bottlebrush bushes and a Sago Palm. The Bottlebrush on the R was as big and full as the one on the L….but it will grow back.


This is the video I took with the camera sitting on the dash.

Most of the brush and debris was cleared away…several chunks cut up and moved to the wood shed…then it started to rain…029cs

We’ll finish up tomorrow.

029cscsJim has 2…maybe 3 more trees that he wants to take down….you can see 2 of them in this photo above…full of Spanish Moss and Air Ferns. Both within distance of our roof and this power line.


All the chunks were moved to the back by the wood shed. Guess we’ll split a few each day till done.


Already have over 2 full rows.


Jim trimmed up the Sago Palm. You can see the end of the Palm he had to cut down and its base on the L.008cs

He’s not one to just sit around….when he stops to take a breather….he’s looking at the next tree and figuring out how he’s going to do it.

That’s the kind of work ethic that is needed now days…shame we don’t have it. Might be a lot less people sitting around with their hands out.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Hive Orientation 1.11.15

The last couple of days the bees have been doing their orientation at about the same time. In the summer they do them separately. I don’t know why they have changed their routine.

This is my “pink” hive.


This is the Top Bar Hive. It is a long single story hive.


You can see there are a lot of bees waiting their turn. The box with the screen is a “robber screen”. Designed to keep robber bees from other hives out. The bees have an entrance on the side and at the top. Robbers tend to fly directly to the center of the screen opposite the hive entrance.


The Langstroth hives are stackable.

There are 3 holes at the top on the right end for an entrance and the bees have learned to go under the bottom of the screen. This is my “blue” hive.




There are a lot of bees still waiting for a turn.


While all the bees are filling the air the workers are still doing their job.


Here’s a closer look….several bees bringing in pollen. Those little yellow sacs on their legs. I see at least 7 just in this one little photo.


The “squirrel box” is starting to get active. We put a piece of wood over the front to help them stay warm this winter. It has about a 4” hole in it.


Here is a little video of them. Wish I could get the buzzing to go with it.

It is very interesting to see so many bees flying in the air and they are not swarming and leaving for a new home.

The orientation takes about a half an hour. These are bees that have been in the hive doing house cleaning, feeding larva and any other chores inside the hive. Once they have a new batch of bees emerge, those bees take over their duties and the others start learning where their hive is so they can become foragers.

With the hives so close I don’t know how they figure out which one is theirs…but the do.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Painted Buntings 1.9.15

The Painted Buntings have been coming in since the end of November.

I don’t have as many this year as I did last year. My friend down the road about a mile has been getting some so they might be sharing between us.


They are beautiful little birds and they love white millet.


I had purchased a large box of this millet for my Lovebird. Babe passed away this summer so I’ve been putting it out for the buntings. When they get through with it I give it to the squirrels.



This is also a Painted Bunting. It could be a juvenile or a female.



The green males will start showing their colors before they migrate North in a few months.

Some have a light green on their backs and others could show yellow or orange.


Either way they are a beautiful mixture of colors.

Here’s a short video of them at the feeders.

I have not seen any Indigo Buntings yet. They normally come  after the Painted Buntings have settled in.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Bats!! We have at least 8 bats in our “Rocket” style Bathouse 1.4.15

These are not very good pictures. I took them out of the video.snapshot_001x
Jim built this with 2 chambers. One is 7/8” which is liked best by the Big Brown Bat. I have seen a few leave from that outside chamber. It looks like this one might be a Big Brown.
It looked like this one came from the inner chamber, 3/4 preferred by Small Brown Bats. But it is too dark to be sure. If it came out on the opposite side it would appear to be leaving from the inner chamber.
This video was taken over a span of 25 minutes. I cut most of the waiting time out. You can tell the different segments by the darkening of the screen each time there was a cut.
I watch most every night and count. Started with one….then 3…and now 8.
It is even more interesting watching them come home. They duck and dive…up to the house and drop back down and zip away …then back and do it all over again. I am trying to get video of that.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Next Year’s Firewood 12.30.14

I was up early this morning …early enough to see the bats come home. I think I counted 8 but only saw 6 leave the bathouse last night.

Here is the beautiful sunrise with the bathouse and palms for contrast.


This tree lost most of its limbs during Hurricane Charlie in ‘04. Luckily they broke loose and fell straight down and not on our place.

A tree expert told us the new limbs were “sucker” limbs and could come off in a bad storm. Jim noticed that it was showing a lot of rot above them and decided it should come down before it fell on us. So….next year’s firewood.

He used a sock full of bb’s and a long string tossed over this limb to pull a rope up.


006cHe had a chain looped around a big Cabbage Palm on the other side of the driveway. A come-along was used to put some tension on the rope, and another rope was hooked to it (dark brown) …run through the chain loop and hooked to the truck.



I got to drive the truck. Once tension was put on the tree he cut a wedge out of the side in line with the rope.

I was in the truck so couldn’t get a good shot of the cut.

009c The ropes are to make sure it falls where he wants it…preferably not on the roof or power line.

Once the wedge was out he gave me the signal to start backing up and putting more tension on the ropes…then he made his cut on the back side opposite the wedge cut.


It’s a lot of work getting the ropes in position….sometimes you are hiking through thick brush and in this case Pompas Grass that has razor sharp edges and  Palms with needle points for leaves. I planted them for a bit of security. For now the road stops at our driveway, but should someone buy the 5 acres behind us or the ones beyond that, they could put the road in to it.

My Mother lived out here for years, by herself, no street lights, no neighbors and just a dirt track for a road and no problems. Back then the Hammock had a reputation for big dogs and big guns…no one drove into a stranger’s yard. But now we are much  more civilized…street lights…paved roads…and much more crime. Although….many still have the big dogs and even bigger guns, so it’s still best not to be too nosey out here….that’s one of the things we really like about it….that and our neighbor has a pit bull and she patrols our place as well as theirs.


Since it fell where he wanted it….now comes the hard part….


It was starting to sprinkle but Jim got some of the limbs cut up. The red stuff is the new…it will be used for kindling.


The rest will go in the new wood shed.


Got a good start on it…but the hard part is cutting and moving all the big stuff.


Pretty rotten at the top and there was a rotten spot all the way through the center to the base.…small but would have kept getting worse.020c

He spent most of the next day working on getting this chainsaw running……he needs a new one.


Jan 1.2015

He has a new one. Took me all day to convince him he was wasting a lot of time trying to get the others running and he deserved a new one… off we went to Lowe’s.006c

He had a great time with it. Couldn’t believe how well it cut compared to the others.


He decided to shorten this stump up a bit…the blade on the saw is only 20 inches so he cut part way through then had to put wedges in to keep it from pinching the bar on the saw.


Then he was able to finish the cut…..


Everything was cut to stove length….he will stack it and split it later.


Everything is making it’s way to the shed…2 at a time ….


You can see how the centers are rotted out….


Jim tried splitting with the axe but it just bounced off so he cut some slits with the chainsaw….then used the wedge and sledge hammer to split.


It worked on this piece….but it had a pretty rotten spot in the center. Lots of moisture in the tree.


Jim is never happy just sitting around. He’s got his eye on a couple of trees that also survived the 3 hurricanes: Charley, Francis and Jean. Tops are broken and showing a lot of air plants and Spanish moss. Good sign they are dying. Once he figures out how to drop them without hitting our home or the power line that runs near them….he’ll be at it again. (especially now that he has a slick new chainsaw!!)