Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Very First Pollinators

I would like to applaud anyone who takes even a single picture of a bee. The black specks hovering around the catkins in this photo are our first bees this year. What kind? Well, I don't know. They are small, early and busy. There are two sizes, actually- sunflower seed and safflower seed. The really small ones burrow down into the catkins, but for what I do not know. When I got too close they flitted off, and so instead of disrupting them, I let them be(e).

It is interesting to me that this year the native plants are keeping the same flowering sequence as last year relative to each other: first the Salix discolor (pussy willow, at the top) which ends its flowering about the same time that the Prunus virginiana (choke cherry, above) starts, closely followed by the Fragaria virginiana (strawberry, below).

Last year the non-native muscari were in bloom before the pussy willow . For me this is yet another indication that native plants suit themselves to the whole pillar of life that make up the local ecosystem.

The Hierochloe odorata (sweet grass) grows centimeters a day this time of year- it is above with the strawberries. This is its second spring in the new meadow garden, and the uncut grass from last summer is popular with the birds. They ramble around choosing which piece to take. Some of the dry blades are three feet long, so I suppose they are picking out the shorter ones.

This is a mysterious tunnel exit/entrance found in the grass meadow. The entrance is about as big around as my pinky finger. I'm going to mark the spot off so it doesn't get trampled in case there is somebody in there.

And this is last year's bee housing! There is still some remnant clay in some of the tunnels, left over from the walls the mother bees built between egg chambers. I think I have to retire these bits this year and replace them with new ones, to avoid the spread of disease. So these will go down into the shady wood pile for slugs to live in. So everybody has some place to live.