Friday, July 30, 2010

We should be more like honeybees..

I've decided the world would be a better place if we were more like honeybees.

Graceful in flight.

Honeybees work together for the good of the whole hive (unlike most humans, who work against each other and are managing to destroy the planet.) These girls are fanning vigorously to cool the hive and remove moisture from the curing honey inside.

The girls who couldn't fit on the front decided to do their bit on the side of the hive! Not sure how helpful it is, but bless them, they try. Honeybees fan their wings like this to help evaporate moisture from the honey until it reaches the perfect moisture content, around 16 - 18%. Then it's ready to be capped with wax, at which point the human is ready to steal it from them!

We've had excellent honeybee weather this summer, unlike the dismal, wet summer of 2009. My beehives are literally hives of activity! We should all work as hard for the common good as these girls do.

The bee flying in the centre has a load of pollen in the basket ("corbicula") on her rear leg. It's that yellowish blob up near her body.

The green leaves are mint. I have several varieties planted around the hives.

The dogs know to keep a respectful distance when I am near the beehives! But anywhere else in the garden, Sophie (r) devotes herself to trying to catch and eat bees of every description. I think she has been stung in the mouth so many times that she doesn't even react anymore!

This is my D. E. hive, of British design. It has lots of passive ventilation. My beekeeping mentor thinks we're slightly nuts for having bought this hive, but I've noticed that when it's stinking hot, there is far less "bearding" on this hive than on my traditional Langstroth hive...

Last year, before I moved the hives to this spot, I had sunflowers growing here, and a few self-seeded and sprouted up this spring. The bees don't seem to mind. It gives them a little bit of shade and a handy pollen source.

The women do all the work in the beehive. The drone's (male bee) sole job is to go out, meet up with other drones at the drone congregation area, and mate with Queenie in a bit of an orgy! Unfortunately, he dies in the process, a horrifying event in which the drone's bee-winky (not the technical term for that appendage) breaks off inside the queen. Drone-boy then falls to ground, disembowelled and quite dead! That said, I suspect our man died happy.

The drone has no stinger and is incapable of looking after himself -- he can't even feed himself! If there are any drones left lazing about the hive in the late summer/fall, they are summarily booted out and left to die. Think of them as furry little husbands lazing about on the couch, drinking beer and eating Doritos (the honeybee snack-food equivalent would be nectar and pollen), until the little missus finally gets fed up and changes the locks! Sex and Doritos: to a man, I mean, drone, that's what life is all about!
(Sorry Gordon, you know I'm just teasing!)

I'm quite fond of drones. They are big and hairy and fuzzy, with huge eyes and no ability to hurt me. It's fun to pick them up and let them crawl on your hand, but don't try that until you're sure what a drone looks like!

Honeybees are amazing! Do your best not to hurt them. I love my girls (and the fuzzy boys) to bits.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Flowers and bugs and July, oh my!

Another day, another walk around the farm. Perfect weather today: not too hot, breezy, sunny and none of that damn humidity in which we've been suffocating as of late!

The Beaudette River at the back of our farm. I love it back here. I wish the mosquitoes and deerfly didn't!!

Ladybug on wild parsnip (pastinaca sativa.) Some people get a skin irritation from the leaves of this plant, but I am apparently not amongst them. You can dig up and eat the parnsip-y roots!

I think this is pinesap (monotropa hypopitys). It likes to grow in dry coniferous forests (like our white pine and white spruce woodlot), and completely lacks chlorophyll:

And can you spot the fellow crawing on this wild parsnip plant?

Here he's is, all incognito:


It's the caterpillar of the black swallowtail butterfly! Strikingly attractive, no?

Meanwhile, my honeybees are foraging far and wide. This one likes thistle!

And who's this?

Back in the garden, a green bottle fly looks rather nice on a brown-eyed Susan (or is it black-eyed?)

A gorgeous ebony jewel-wing damselfly!

A bluejay left something behind in our woods.

This is a swamp milkweed (asclepias incarnata) related to...

...the butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) planted in my garden!

My honeybees love it!

See her reddish, straw-like tongue, sucking nectar from the flower?

I love my honeybees and am glad they are doing so much better this year. I expect to get some honey off them later this summer.

Have a good week!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

More cool old photos!

I was scanning old photos this morning. Here are a few I liked...

Guess who? :)

My very cool Dad fixing his car antenna in 1958.

My paternal grandparents on the "Social Cycle" at Gunton Hall Holiday Camp, Lowestoft, Suffolk, 1958.

Dad with the Easter meal, 1991. He was a great cook! He died in 1992.

My uncle John and my Dad (right), c. 1932

Me and my homies, Peterborough, Ontario, c. 1968. I'm the one on the right!

Friday, July 23, 2010

La poule

The latest addition to my Etsy shop: La poule (that's French for "hen"!)

The bright colours in her tail come from dye made from Kool-Aid (TM). Amazing to think people drink that stuff!

The wool smelled fruity for quite some time after I dyed it!

She puts other chickens to shame with her good looks and style!

Pastel-coloured eggs, perfect for any occasion!

Chickeeeez live!

With an moderately rude soundtrack by Adam Sandler, and zero editing by the lazy filmmaker! :)


My friend lent me a chicken tractor and the little ones love it. The roof is a little leaky, so I've got a tarp over it as it's supposed to rain today (and yes, our lawn is sorely overdue for mowing. Gordon claims he will be attending to that tomorrow morning!) The kids are only outside in daytime. At night they sleep in a big box in the garage.

Here they are enjoying a little rest!

We named the brown one on the right "Phyllis Diller" but I have strong suspicions that Phyllis is actually "Phill." Do any chicken people out there have an opinion? It's okay if he is a cockerel!

Errol Flynn is the confirmed cockerel on the left. That's Tina Turner (the white one) next to him. The black one lacks a name. I'm calling the black/grey/white one in the rear The Pigeonator, but Gordon wants another name. We may have to arm wrestle over that. Didn't one of my commenters come up with the name? The little brown one (hidden in this shot) is Buttercup II, and the other mop-head (also hidden) will lay blue eggs and is Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, but I think I already mentioned all that in a previous post!

So what do you think? Is Phyllis really PHILL?!

Luminarium Couple

My cousin took pics of us a the Luminarium last Sunday...

It would be a great place to do yoga, I think!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Last Saturday, we went to the Sheep to Shawl event at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum. I really liked this pair of Tunis sheep:

And of course there was sheep shearing:

This Shropshire ewe was baa-ing at the approaching thunderstorm, but her twins weren't perturbed...

For more cute sheep shots and other photos from the event, visit Ronna's blog!

On the way home, we visited a friend's lovely roan donkey, Donald:

He was lovely. I see a donkey or two in my farm future!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Luminarium in Montréal

We had a great day in Montréal on Sunday. My cousin Geoff (whom I had not seen since I was 14 and he was 5, over 30 years ago!) is the Director of the Leicester Comedy Festival in England, and was in town for the Juste pour rire/Just For Laughs festival. Let me just say that I will not let another 30 years pass before I see him again! Being an only child with no living parents, I really appreciate getting to spend time with family, especially family like my wonderful cousin. I haven't laughed that hard in ages! I think we share a humour gene.

Geoff used to work with the Architects of Air, and he took us to the Luminarium that was set up for the festival. I was most impressed that we were allowed to go to the front of the line and under the velvet rope. Ah, I like having family members in positions of power!

From the outside, the Luminarium looked, well, a little odd...

But the inside was amazing!

There are several Luminaria that tour the world. This one is called Amococo.

You are invited to sit, relax, and enjoy the atmosphere. Children love it, but running and screaming are not encouraged!

I think it is best described as an inflatable sculpture...

It's definitely art!

All the light is natural and it does amazing things once you're inside...

Geoff and Gordon enjoy a quiet moment.

If you ever get a chance to visit one of these, I encourage you to do so! I could have stayed for hours.