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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ligularia

Once the clover is done (usually mid-July here), that's the end of my spring flow. Until the goldenrod and Japanese knotweed begin the fall flow, the bees are on the constant lookout for flowering plants.

My area many flowering plants (and even a few shrubs) in the summer -- echinacea, rudbeckia, hostas, daylilies, yarrow, rose of Sharon to name a few. They really love some of them (like the cone flowers), will visit some of them (hostas), and completely ignore others (yarrow). There are also all the summer blooming fruits/veggies that they adore -- beans, squash, pumpkins, melons, cucumbers to name a few. 

In any case, I'm always looking for new plants that will fill this gap in the nectar flow during the summer. One plant that my bees seem to love this year is ligularia.

Ligularia.
Usually the leaves are much nicer, but something has eaten up all my plants this year.

In my opinion, the leaves are the prettiest part of the plant, but ligularia starts to bloom around the middle of July, sending up "rockets" of yellow flowers -- actually, they're composite flowers. You wouldn't think it to look at them, but they're related to sunflowers. Although ligularia is far less showy than its cousin, the bees seem to find their blooms utterly irresistible.

Honeybee on ligularia

I really didn't know anything about this plant when I bought it, and by chance, I picked the perfect spot for it. It likes light shade and rich soil that never dries out. It doesn't need wet soil, though, just moist.

Yummsy!
I've heard snails and slugs can be a pest, but this year, everything has been eating all of my flowers. Hopefully, this winter will be a little colder than last to kill off pests.



Tuesday, July 19, 2016

So Long, Suckers!

For several weeks now, I've noticed wasps hanging out by Elsa's back end, but wasps love looking for ways into beehives, so I haven't paid much attention to them until now.

Today, I wanted to split Elsa since this is her 2nd season, and Dr. Delaney has intimated that the best time to split is just after the spring flow has ended. However, as soon as I opened the cover, a cloud of yellow jackets flew straight at my face. Ugh. They'd made a nest under the roof.

Yellow jackets peeking out

Because of the way the roof is constructed, there was no way to get at the nest from underneath. If there had been, perhaps the wasps never would have taken up residence there in the first place. I had to remove the top in order to access the menaces.

Somewhere between the size of a pomelo & a soccer ball

I used expanding foam to fill in the cracks. Not pretty, but it's functional.

Wasps wondering what the heck happened
Usually, I leave wasps alone. They eat a lot of garden pests, and as long as they're not stinging me or my children, we get along fine. Today, though, they were bumping and stinging me the entire time. If I look at the situation from their point of view, I can't blame them, but I still can't say that I felt any remorse for destroying them. If I'd had napalm or a flame thrower, I would have used it.




Monday, July 18, 2016

Dumpster Diving

A lot of people use pallets to build TBHs. It's a great way to recycle, and a real wallet saver if money is a primary consideration. I applaud those who do it. For me, though, as a mom of three who also freelances, I feel like the amount of time spent deconstructing them just isn't worth it. A few months ago, we had a speaker at my bee club, and he said something I believe in wholeheartedly. "Time does not equal money. I can make money. I can't make time." For less than $50, I can build a hive. The hours spent breaking down a pallet and trying to remove all the nails? That's priceless and much better spent on other tasks.

On the other hand, I do love a bargain, and I'm more than happy to score some wood if the price is right (or free). Sam Comfort loves to say, "Show me a dumpster, and I'll get a hive out of it." Well, today, I did some dumpster diving.

I needed some wood for more bars. While the local lumberyard has better wood, Lowes happens to be in the same plaza as my favorite local Caribbean bakery. Since this South Florida transplant can't resist a spicy Jamaican patty... (Hey, this mom has to multitask -- now I have wood & dinner, so the trip was a twofer.)

Anyway, 10' boards give me more bars with less waste. However, they're unwieldy and don't fit as well in my car, so I like taking advantage of the free cuts they make at Lowes. While standing by the saw, I noticed a dumpster that had some really nice boards in it. I asked the customer associate helping me what Lowes did with the wood. He told me some people want a cut of wood, but they don't want the cut-offs, which just get thrown away. What?!?!?!?! That nice wood? Some of those pieces were at least 3'-4' long!

So in addition to the board I purchased, I walked away with an assortment of wood, including several nice 2" thick boards and two furniture-grade pieces of plywood (thinking my guest room could use side tables). Best of all, I got them for free! My DH warned the salesperson that he'd gone and done it. Giving me wood is like feeding a stray -- now I'll be over there all the time. What can I say? Some girls like purses and shoes. I like lumber and power tools.

A tidy little haul