Yes, it is possible to burn a candle on three ends.
For the last month, I’ve been burning my candle on three ends. First, there’s the challenge of trying to write a story a week. Second, there’s the spring Real Ale festival that I help organize, NERAX. And the third is spreading the word about native bees, with Friends of Bees. So it’s probably not too surprising that it’s going to take over a month to finish story #5. And it’s probably even less surprising that it’s still not finished. But it’s really close!
Since NERAX starts next week, I plan to finish story #5 by this Sunday. During the week of NERAX, I’ll aim to write one flash story. But after it, maybe I’ll do something crazy like write a flash a day for a week. Who knows?
Bumblebees do not care if an intrusive gardener cuts down some overenthusiastic butterfly bush. They hardly notice if that gardener carries away that branch, should there happen to be luscious purple flowers to forage on. But if the bouncing of that branch drops that bee down the collar at the back of that gardener’s neck, bumblebees do not take kindly to being confined under the fabric of your shirt.
The Eastern Carpenter bees
have tiny little cousins, called naturally enough, the Small Carpenter Bees
. Instead of digging into wood, the Small Carpenter bee nests in a broken or cut stem
, adding cell after cell, forming a row of larvae. When she gets to the end, she builds a cell for herself and there she rests until her brood emerges.
Carpenter bee on patrol
Right about when the bumblebees show up, the Carpenter bees come out too. Bumblebees are placid, fuzzy fellows that take no notice of you. While they look like extra large bumblebee, the Eastern Carpenter Bees have a shiny tail, and the males will get in your face, and tell you in no uncertain terms to get out of their territory. You can tell the males by the way they patrol a nice patch of flowers, and by the pale patch on their face. For all that sass, male bees are all show and no stinger. (What they have instead of a stinger is deployed for the lady bees only.)
National Pollinator Week
officially began yesterday, so that’s my excuse for doubly belatedly posting about the bees that have emerged so far this spring. Spring begins with bumblebee queens hunting for a sheltered spot to build a new nest. On sunny days, honeybees come out to forage and replenish their stores as winter ends. And the bees in my yard that only come out in spring are the Early Miner Bees
Sunday was a beautiful sunny day to go visit the Pollinator plot at the community garden. The chives have been flowering for some days, and I was looking forward to seeing the bees. Sure enough, the chives were hosting a bee party.
The peach tree has clusters of pink blossoms poking out from the ends of its branches like brightly painted fingernails on fingertips.
The plum tree is still covered with fluffy white blossoms, but it’s been too cold for many bees to show up. On one sunny day last week, a honeybee visited the plum tree and maybe a half dozen small, seemingly black bees. The one clear photo I got only shows its tail, but more importantly shows its true color: darkest almost blackest green, a color shown mainly in the shimmer.
That color makes me pretty sure that they’re small carpenter bees, or Ceratina. They probably overwintered in the stems of shrubs in the yard, or maybe the sumacs growing next door. This is why I leave a lot of stems standing until spring before I cut them down. It’s nice to see them come back, and I’m sure we’ll see them again.
I saw a honeybee visit the crocus today. A bumblebee seemed to be looking for a good spot under the crocuses to start her nest. Crocuses nestle in the sheltered pocket where snapdragons have stayed green all winter. Crocuses bloom around the plum tree, which has so many buds of blossoms to come, you see it all nubbly from the kitchen.
The first bees of the year are bringing in spring.
It’s starting to look like the mystery plant will be revealed. Perfect round balls are developing ridges. Acorn squash again. Every fall, I keep getting various squashes, but I’m no longer sure how much I actually like winter squash. So I no long care that I probably won’t enjoy the fruits of the mystery plants. I’m glad enough to see the bees enjoying the flowers.
Blurry bumblebees on goldenrod
I wish I could get the camera to convey the abundance of bumblebees on the goldenrod today. The sun is back and it’s found a perky stand of goldenrod in full color. Lots of bumblebees have found it too. Usually I could spot at least six or seven on it at a time. In this, the best of a blurry lot of pictures, you might see six or seven bumbles, too.