Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Swarm, argh!

Today some of my bees swarmed! It was just a little swarm, the size of a grapefruit once they bunched together in a tree next to the hives. It's uncommon for bees to swarm at this time of the year, so late in the season. But mine did. It's the first time I've had a swarm from my hives....

That dark clump in the middle under the grapevine leaves is a swarm of bees.

Here's a close-up with my 210mm lens. In the centre of that ball of bees is a queen. While still in the hive, they made a new queen. One queen flies off with the bees, one stays behind in the hive.

Poor little things don't have much hope of making it. It's very late in the season and there's not enough time for them to build up adequate stores of honey before winter. I asked my beekeeping friend Pierre for advice and he said just to let them be. There's not a whole lot I can do for them; I could catch them and put them in a small nuc hive, but from what I understand, it's dubious they'll make it through winter.

I'm sorry to lose these bees but it was pretty cool watching them congregate around the queen. I checked and they were still in the tree at dinnertime. They send out scout bees to look for a new location for their hive (like a hollow tree), and this can take up to 48 hours. They have enough honey in their "honey stomachs" to last them a week. After that, they will starve if they haven't found a new home. 

I'm inspecting all the hives this weekend, so we'll see what's going on then!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A quickie

The chickens have been registering their displeasure at not being featured on the blog as often as they used to be...

"Put my photo up, or I peck your eyes out!"

And this is from a couple of weeks ago. Every year, the Williamstown Fair has a scarecrow contest in the days leading up to the fair. You see funny scarecrow dioramas everywhere. I just loved this one on our road:

Scarecrow in hammock with case of Budweiser (how un-Canadian!), with fake crows everywhere!

I managed to get stung on my middle finger today, not at the hives but in my own kitchen! I brought in some hive tools to clean off, because they were sticky with honey. I didn't notice that a bee had hitched a ride on one, and when I put it in the sink, she felt threatened and stung me. Poor little thing gave her honeybee life because I careful! It's okay, I'm suffering a bit. The stings don't usually bother me but my finger is swollen and achy tonight. I shall survive! Unlike the bee. :(

Monday, August 27, 2012

Ooh, spicy!

A change from bugs and cats! The other day, I made "garden patch salsa" with stuff from my own garden. I like having homemade salsa in the winter months when the tomatoes in the grocery store taste like styrofoam.

This summer was so hot and dry, I managed to grow poblano peppers for the first time! And the jalapeno and serrano peppers are doing great too. My friend Pierre gave me some amazing Hungarian wax peppers too.

The macro lens works on tomatoes!

Tomatoes, peppers, onions, carrots, zucchini, cilantro, parsley, oregano and garlic, all into the pot. I substituted fresh cilantro for half the fresh oregano. I grew the herbs and garlic in my garden too.

I cooked it down for about half an hour. 

Next it went into jars.

Then into the canner for hot water processing. Because the recipe contains enough acid in the form of vinegar, it's safe to process it in hot water. Here's the recipe if you're interested.

And yes, I:m sneaking in a couple more "bug on sunflower" shots from Friday!

I've been busy bottling honey. I got 50 kg (110 lbs) in jars in the past 24 hours, with lots more to come. Thank you bees!

Friday, August 24, 2012


Okay, so I've been spending my summer working on my memoir and trying to write every day. I have a bazillion books inside me, swore when I was a tiny child that I'd be a writer, and I have to get it out of me. It's now or never! 

But I have this distracting new passion called my MACRO LENS...

I spent an hour outside this evening, mostly in my sunflower garden, and took 598 photos.

I need a better bug guide so that I can figure out what this little green critter is!

I think that's an alfalfa leafcutter bee joining the party. CORRECTION: Nope, I don't  think so.  Longhorn bee? Sunflower leafcutter bee? Anyone? Anyone??
She is absolutely coated in pollen. Wonderful!

I was fascinated by this little critter, who was eating pollen and/or nectar from the sunflower.



I adore sunflowers. I planted at least 100 this year, and six or seven different varieties. The number of creatures living on, dining on, or having sex on sunflowers is incredible.

No nooky pics tonight, though! Just hungry bugs...

Gorgeous leafcutter bee (I think) bathed in the yellow stuff. CORRECTION: Nope, I think it's a Longhorn bee. Anyone? Anyone?? Anyone???

More coming, and I took some cat pics too. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sorry cats, it's back to bugs!

Last week, several of us artistic types got together and went sketching down by the St. Lawrence River in Cornwall. There is a nice waterfront park there. We had lunch, then set to work. My friend Ronna did a nice post on our day out. Before sketching, I wandered off with my macro lens and found a thistle plant loaded with butterflies...

So many Painted Lady and Monarch butterflies!

We've seen so many of these little beauties lately.

I couldn't get over all the butterflies on the thistle plant.

And a bright green beetle! Feel free to identify it for me.

I think he looks so pretty on the purple.

A mama Black duck and her family swam by!


Parts of Cornwall are less than attractive, and I make fun of it a lot, but really the waterfront is exceptionally pretty. THere's a great biking/walking path along the water too.

This scene gave me a chuckle. On the dock was a group of teens frying themselves in the sun. At the picnic table, a group of seniors gathering for coffee, doughnuts and a smoke. The funniest thing about them was what they road up on: various electric scooters and an electric bike, all decked out with sound systems. They were blasting different 70s rock songs when they each rolled up!

A black duck enjoying a quiet moment.

I believe this is a paper wasp, and she was watching me watching her! Look what she'd caught: a little caterpillar!

She walked around the thistle plant with her prize...

...then took off!

What a gorgeous day.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Catty McCattykins Catty Catty Cat Cat Catamania Catness!

Gentle readers, I bring to you, as per your requests, MANY CATS!

Mr. Alex is just too handsome.

Debonair and unconcerned.

Pensive and handsome, all at the same time.

Alex and Naomi mock Sophie through the screen door.

"I am the sexiest cat alive, and I know it. Three legs are better than four!"

Emily. Note the cat-sized indentation and numerous claw marks in the screen door!!

Two tabbies entwined.

The first annual meeting of Butt-sniffers Anonymous (B. A. to the initiated!)

Dogs are welcome to join the group!

Have I mentioned that Emily LOVES Tristan? She's always rubbing up against him, purring at him, batting her lashes and generally making a floozy of herself. He responds with... intense butt-sniffing. No doubt Emily can't forget the good times last spring when she was in heat, throwing herself at everything that took in oxygen.

Alex not giving a damn in his utterly cool fashion.

A clowder of cats!

"Don't hate me because I'm better than you, human flesh-bag! Just bow down on your knees, where you belong."

Emily's coat is a knock-out.

Cats rule, dogs drool.

And as always, Julius rises above it all!