The Bees Are Back!

By

I’d love to try beekeeping, but our house is very close to multiple neighbors and I’m a bit leery of having a bee hive in my backyard.  However, each year I’ve tried to make my yard as bee friendly as I can.  The bees are fun (dog #1 loves them – it entertains him for hours) and they pollinate my garden to give me lots of squash and (this year) watermelon.

These will be small individual watermelons when they ripen. Unfortunately, with all the humdity there are now some cracks in the rinds so we’ll see if they rot or not.

I plant salvia each year, but the bees weren’t as enthused this year as before.  Finally, FINALLY, the basil went to flower and the sunflowers came in.

The basil isn’t even fully flowered and the bees are going nuts! See the less focused one in the bottom left?

And now all of a sudden, I have bees!  Bees, bees, everywhere.  On the salvia, in the basil, in the thyme, on the watermelons, in the trumpet vines and they are gluttons for the sunflowers.

Can you believe all these bees?

I don’t remember what kind of sunflowers I planted, but I did make sure it was not pollen-free.  Without pollen, the bees won’t come.  Duh!  You have to read the packages carefully as many sunflowers are bred these days to be pollen-less.

I hadn’t planted sunflowers for years and forgot how they grew.  You can see in the above picture how the pollen (and seeds) start from the edge and work there way to the center.  Once it becomes covered in pollen and green seeds, the pollen gradually recedes and the head starts dying back to ripen.  As this happens, the head bends lower and lower to the ground.

You can easily tell the sequence of which ones ripened first (from right to left).

In this picture here, the furthest right sunflower ripened first, setting off the bee orgy.  As it ripened and the pollen sloughed off, the one next to it came into its pollen next, exciting the bees even further.  It is now ripening slowly.  The golden petals are drying and looking ratty, but the seeds are getting larger each day.  The two to the left are the ones I showed in the picture higher up in the blog.  They are first filling in the pollen; in a few more weeks, they’ll be bending over too.

I’m thrilled to see the bees back for another year!  I’m no longer fertilizing the garden as I don’t want to stress them out.  It’ll cut back our yield, but it’s so worth it to see them again.

The bees are loving the thyme in blossom. I know it cuts back on the productivity of my herbs, but I love having the bees around.

Now if I could just find the caterpillars that are eating my mint.  I’m used to losing my parlsey each year to the butterflies, but the mint?  I’ve not had that happen before.  I killed a small green inchworm sized caterpillar the other night, but I’m still finding caterpillar poops.  Those buggers have to be there somewhere, but it’s sure hard to find green caterpillars on green mint.

The turnip greens on the right are ruined and the spearmint on the left is getting there quickly. Grrrr. . .

Oh the highs and lows of keeping a garden!  This too will eventually get resolved, one way or the other.

Over at A Daily Life, there is a new post on a great way idea of using your camera to record your child’s life each year.