11/29/2011

The Life of a Bee

Honey bee, testing the last of the basil flowers.

Two days after Thanksgiving, we finally had a killing freeze. We've been fortunate to have only light frosts all the month of November. Even lettuce and arugula that wasn't in the cold frame has escaped until now. We still had flowers blooming, the last of the roses, still a couple of clematis blooms and a few of the last of the season insects. I posted a few weeks "what a bee sees" (you can find it in the index of blog posts to the right of the current posts). Here are a few more, all taken from a bee's perspective.
Ants thriving on a ripe fig.
In spite of a harsh summer of heat and drought, we have had the best fig crop ever. I love figs and am always happy to have 3 or 4 to eat. We're not in "fig growing" areas but I still manage to grow 3 varieties. This fall we had more figs than we could eat, some going to waste. The trick with figs is to get them as soon as they're ripe. Wait a day too long and ants, as in the photo above, go into the little hole in the bottom of the fig and start eating. Figs are extremely sweet, ants love them as much as I do. Bees would go after the fig sweetness if they could figure out how to get inside the fruit.
Dandelion seed.
While a dandelion seed head may look flower-like to our eyes, a bee knows there's nothing to eat there.
Butterfly on radish flower.
Radishes left in the ground bloom and go to seed. This little butterfly has a longer "snout" than a bee does, so she goes after teh nectar deep in the radish flower.
Wasp on fava been stem.
If you were a bee and saw something as big in proportion to you as a box car is to a human, you'd move on, too. The red wasp is finding something tasty on the stem of the fava bean as it was ignoring the flowers completely.
Fava bean flower.
Fly on mustard flower.
While this may look like a house fly to you, it's not. I don't know my flies, but this one is a different kind and size and is a good pollinator for a lot of flowers like this mustard flower.
Cicada eating the pollen of an okra flower.
We had okra still blooming last week. I caught this cicada happily munching away on the pollen of the okra blossom. I haven't seen bees on okra although lots of other insects pollinate the plant. This is the first time I've seen a cicada on okra, but then, cicadas are like goats - they'll eat just about anything. This one watched me as I watched him but kept eating anyway.
Honeybee on the last of the allium flowers.
Our little honeybees make use of every day when they can be out of the hive. Matthew, the owner of the 5 hives here at the farm, looks after his bees throughout the year and left us with some of the best tasting honey I've ever tasted. I thought you might enjoy seeing more of what a bee sees every day, up close and personal from the bee's point of view.

2 comments:

Birds, Bees, Berries, and Blooms said...

Wow, you still had quiet a bit of activity. My poor bees were put to winter sleep the beginning of Novemeber.

Anonymous said...

Jim, after seeing all these flowers and bees I am already anxious for spring to get here and plant my peas in February.
Marc