The Annual Rite of Spring…or in other words…SAVE ALL THE BEES!!!

proxy.duckduckgo.com.jpg-Eastern Carpenter Bee#8This is an Eastern Carpenter Bee, native to, as the name says, the eastern part of the U.S. These guys hang out in my garden during the early Spring, and I have no problem with them. I actually like them very much. They pollinate my violas and whatever other flowers I have that survived the winter. And, I enjoy watching them fly about.proxy.duckduckgo.com.jpg-Eastern Carpenter Bee#1This is a close up view of a male, note the white patch on his face. All the boys have the white patch, the girls don’t. Here is a link that gives more info about these bees  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_carpenter_bee     Now, to why I titled the first part of the title of this post, “The Annual Rite of Spring…”. These bees appear every Spring here and for the most part, they are basically harmless, as in, if you don’t mess with them, they generally won’t mess with you. Only the girls can give a mild sting, the boys don’t. These bees like to chew into old wood to make tube-like burrows to lay their eggs. Then they will hover about nearby to protect their babies. The burrowing in the wood is a large part of why many people don’t like these bees, plus the hovering about. 20181013_145746 (3)That small building, in the above picture, just beyond my zinnias, is one of our local mailboxes and it is made out of wood. The bees love burrowing into the soft, old wood on the underside of that little building. Then they hover about, guarding the area. For most of the day, everything is fine, until people start getting off work and come to get their mail. That’s when the screaming starts! People are terrified of the bees! And unless you actually grab one of the female bees and manhandle them aggressively, they won’t sting. But, people don’t want to hear that, they totally freak out and call the landlord and complain about the “KILLER BEES!”. Then, like clock work, the maintenance men show up lugging a big, industrial size sprayer full of bug killer and hose down the immediate area around the mail box. Then those poor bees that weren’t killed outright by the spray come over to my flower pots and sidewalk and die. Then the ants harvest them, and then the ants die. If any little frogs or toads see any of the bigger ants crawling around before they die, the frogs and toads eat the ants and then they get sick and crawl off and don’t come back, so they probably die too. I imagine that any birds that eat the bees probably get sick too. It just goes on and on.

I have a “bee safe zone” in my garden, like a haven for bees. I don’t use any plant product that might hurt them, I read all the labels to make sure. I always grow some plants specifically for the bees, this year I’m going to grow at least one morning glory, possibly two. And probably some more zinnias. Just for the bees.proxy.duckduckgo.com.jpg-Bumblebee#3This, above, is a Bumblebee, these guys also hang out in my garden. One has hung out all through the winter, working over the violas everyday.proxy.duckduckgo.com.jpg-Honeybee#4 This, above, is a honeybee. I rarely see these in my yard, it is a major event when I actually see one, there are so few of them around here now.

But, to get at the point I’m trying to make, all bees pollinate plants, not just honeybees. By killing the carpenter bees, people are limiting the amount of pollinating bees that are still out there. Hold in mind the thought, without bees and the various other creatures that pollinate all the plants that we get food from, people would have to pollinate all those plants by hand. Plant by plant, flower by flower, all by hand, probably with a soft paint brush or a feather.proxy.duckduckgo.com.jpg-Eastern Carpenter Bee#4So, here above, is another picture of an Eastern Carpenter Bee, busy collecting nectar and pollen. Please don’t kill them! They are not public enemy number one! They’ll only be about for a short while, just long enough to mate and make sure their babies are okay. Many of them don’t live very long past July, it’s like they enter old age and start slowing down. They rest often and fly less and less  So, from the second part of this post’s title, please…”SAVE ALL THE BEES!!!”  All of them, not just the honeybees, all the different kinds of bees! They pollinate the plants we get a large percentage of our foods from. The least we can do is protect them and grow a few flowers for them in our gardens. The benefits of having them around, far outweighs any problems they might cause. So, I imagine I’m doing the Lorax’s job, I speak for the  carpenter bees because they can’t speak for themselves! I had to get the bee pictures from Duckduckgo.com  images, because the bees in my yard aren’t real keen on having cameras pointed at them, they fly away before I can click the button. The mailbox picture is one I took last fall. I’ll get down off my soap box now. Thank you for reading my bee post. I hope you all have a nice day. GROW FLOWERS FOR THE BEES!!!!!!

Works-in-progress are coming along…and two of the ladybug figures…And Spring?!

20190208_182946 (2)Another paper-mache’ winter sweater is ready to embellish! The last three pear-snowmen are finally painted, dry and off their handling sticks. Next for them will be their hats, which will help to determine where their facial features will be and help to line up for their arms and the buttons down their fronts. The wooden ladybug parts are all carved out and ready for some sanding, the paint and then to be glued together. I haven’t decided yet if it will have legs, but it will have some antennas. And my little paper-mache’ ladybug person has been wrapped with the floral tape and the first bits of paper and glue have been applied to help keep the tape from unwrapping itself.  His/her “eyes” have the first coat of paint on them and I’ve got some “arms” ready, I think to maybe be wrapped with some of the floral tape. The big challenge will be seeing if I can get his/her hand shapes and little shoes wrapped with the floral tape to help make their surfaces smoother. I might have to split the tape to make it narrower for the wrapping around the hand/fingers and shoe shapes.

So, that’s what is going on so far with these projects so far. I’ve been taking pictures of the various stages of progress for these critters and things so I can use them for the how-to-do’s.

And would you believe it got up to 82 degrees in my yard today?! We had a warming front go through, and then tomorrow night it will be back down in the 30 degree range. The weather here is flip-flopping temperature-wise just like it’s Spring. My rosemary has some more flowers on it. Dandelions are blooming out in the lawn and a flock of robins has been hanging out in the yard looking for earthworms. And the resident mole has started tunneling up and down the yard, along the side of the apartment…Go Mole Boy! eat all those grubs and slugs!  I’m starting to think it’s not just my rosemary that is confused about what time of the year it is…it still is February, but you’d never know that looking out at what the plants and the critters in the yard are doing! So, stay warm or cool depending on what your weather is doing! HAPPY LADYBUG CREATING and HAPPY CRAFTING!!!!

My Rosemary is apparently… very…confused!

20190122_120152 (2)I don’t know if you can see it real well, but that blue thing a little below the middle of the picture is…a flower! IN JANUARY!!!!! 20190122_120213 (2)And here are more buds!!!! Can you believe it?! This plant is trying to make flowers…IN JANUARY!!! 20190122_120239 (2)I’ve been keeping track of what the weather is going to do temperature wise, and when the forecast is for the low thirties or below, I’ve been covering this plant up at night to give it some protection. Last night it got down to about 18 degrees and I had covered this guy up at 5:30 pm when it was about 31 degrees. So, when I uncovered it this morning, when it got back up above freezing, I saw the blue flower and thought I better take some pictures! All I can figure is that because the plant is right outside our front door, the heat from the building and reflected off the front door are creating a kind of micro-climate that Rosemary Boy or Girl, really likes. But still, all my herbal books say Rosemary is supposed to bloom in the summer and it is way not summer now! Maybe my plant is a rebel and wants to be contrary!20190122_120258 (2)The violas are blooming away like crazy!20190122_120311 (2)The flowering kale are kind of not doing a whole lot. I thought they would do…well a little better than just kind of existing. But at least they haven’t died yet.20190122_120319 (2)The lemon grass is…well…there. I don’t know if it is alive or not. I’ll know for sure in the spring if it starts actively growing again.20190122_120344 (2)

The bluebirds are actually in their house there on the tree. I had gone out the other day to see about cleaning the house out and a little blue head popped out of the opening and looked at me and then another one was trying to shove the first one out of the way to look out too. So, so much for cleaning the house. And a little head popped out today and was watching me take pictures, so they are keeping an eye on me.

The super moon was…not so super from our vantage point, on Sunday night. It started out huge as it rose up, but then as it got overhead and started going  into the eclipse it kind of shrank up size-wise. It turned red and that was impressive, but it didn’t get big looking again until after it was clear of the Earth’s shadow. I think we weren’t in the prime spot for optimum viewing, but at least we got to see the moon change color and that was neat. Not something you see every day!

So there you go! My plants are still hanging in there…well most of them. And the Rosemary is being…kind of strange! Plants! What can I say? They do what they want…apparently when they feel like it! And the bluebirds are still here! I think they want to make sure no other birds take over their house! And the Moon did…interesting things! So, I hope you have a very nice day! HAPPY WINTER GARDENING and HAPPY MOON WATCHING and HAPPY CRAFTING!!!!!

Violas and Rosemary for the winter garden!

20181111_164139 (2)So, here is the little rosemary shaped up kind of like a Christmas tree. There was going to be possible frost last night so I covered this guy with a white plastic garbage bag to give it some protection. When I looked out this morning there was a little frost on the roofs of the apartments across from us, but it wasn’t bad enough to damage my remaining pepper plant or the lemon grass.20181111_164252 (2)Here are some of the new violas, in shades of yellow and orange. The pepper and the lemon grass looking not too bad off still. In the back ground you can see my neighbor decorated her front door like a Christmas package, it looks very nice!20181111_164216 (2)The rest of the violas in shades of blue and purple. The sticks that you probably have noticed I’ve got sticking up all over the place in the pots, are to deter the neighborhood cats from using my pots as a litter-box.20181111_164429 (2)And here is the arbor standing back up again, just a little shorter than it used to be. My dad has a special saw that can cut through metal. He cut off the remaining leg of the arbor that hadn’t been snapped off  by the winds during Hurricane Florence. Then he cut off the bottom cross bars and now the bits that stick out at the bottom are the new legs for the arbor, YEAH!!!!! I used my rubber headed mallet to tap the arbor down into place and now it is all ready from some plant to crawl up on in the spring. Now, our local mockingbird thinks the arbor is a good perch to survey the yard from, the resident wren really likes it too. As you can see in the background, we still have piles of tree waste left over from Hurricane Florence and that is just a small pile, I’ve seen some that are several stories tall as we’ve been out and about. It’s going to be a while before all the organic waste is processed just because there is so much of it. The hurricane really tore this area up big time.

So, there is the winter garden so far. I haven’t made a hard choice yet of what will be in the two smaller pots, just that it will be something that can handle being frozen and keep growing. So, HAPPY WINTER GARDENING!!!! Have a great day!

THE BLUEBIRDS ARE USING THEIR HOUSE AND THEY ARE FEEDING BABIES!!!!

20180819_193310 (2)Sorry this is a little blurry, I was swatting at mosquitoes while trying to take the picture.

This morning I opened up the living room window to air the apartment out, and as I glanced out at the bluebird house I noticed our resident wren going in the door opening. proxy.duckduckgo.com.jpg-CarolinaWren#1 (2)Suddenly, he shot back out like he’d been shot out of a cannon and two adult bluebirds came right out after him and chased him all over the yard.proxy.duckduckgo.com.jpg-Bluebird#5 Then a third, somewhat smaller boy bluebird came with a fat caterpillar and went in the bluebird house. Then the first two bluebirds came back and they also took fat caterpillars into the bird house. So, we are thinking the slightly smaller bluebird is an almost grown baby of the adult bluebirds from a previous batch of babies, helping to tend his/her younger siblings. And the wren was just checking out the house.proxy.duckduckgo.com.jpg-Bluebird#1The bird pictures aren’t ones I took, I got them off Duckduckgo.com/ images.  I used them to illustrate what I was telling about because my birds won’t sit still long enough to have their pictures taken. They are lightening fast little buggers! So, apparently while we have been preoccupied with hurricanes and tropical storms, the bluebirds have been operating in super secret stealth mode and have been using their house long enough to get a batch of eggs laid and hatched. I’m thinking the woodpecker hole they were using finally got too soggy from all the rain we’ve been having and they finally decided the house I put up for them was looking pretty good. YEAH!!!!    I hope you all have a GREAT DAY!!!! HAPPY BIRD WATCHING and HAPPY CRAFTING!!!