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.


  1. My grandson loves bees. The Winnie the Pooh dvd has them in and so does a dvd about Nick Parkes, Sean the Sheep, so we go bee spotting in the garden or park and he gets delighted that weve seen one. Do hope one doesnt sting him one day, it will spoilt his magic lol
    That hole resembles the holes bees left beneath my fruit trees. Once the hole appeared I was told they had emerged, but what kind of bee it is that does that I forget now. They were soft coloured and not at all aggressive though and none too large iether.
    Love those bee homes in the woodpile! Talk about des res!

  2. What/who do you suppose made the tunnel? And, oh my goodness, 3' sweetgrass blades! That's amazing. I am happy to grow it in a pot and get 8"! So interesting to read about your bees! Man-oh-man, I'm starting to think I really live in a dud climate -- Colorado -- when I read how things grow in other places.

  3. Liniecat- I love that your grandson loves bees. I was raised by a bee sting allergic, and so I was always ready to dial 911 at the sight of one. And THANK you for reporting that this tunnel looks like the ones beneath your fruit trees- it is wonderful to imagine that this one is a bee house, too.

  4. Hi Woman With Wings. Thank you for reminding me that this sweetgrass is really thriving. This particular bed is the old vegetable bed, which used to be improved with compost and manure every year. I planted the sweetgrass there three summers ago to use up some of that nutrient so that my other meadow grasses will do better (that is, to grow deeper roots to look for nutrients). This sweetgrass grows upright until the long flat blade is about 6" above the stem, beyond the flower height, then each blade starts to bend and lays out over the ground. It looks like green waves by late summer. My grandmother would probably say it grows well because we have a lot of thunderstorms here...maybe?


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