Monday, August 30, 2010
But if I'd used green and white they could be Dominican socks! I like the Dominican flag.
[thank you wikipedia for the image]
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
The salvageable parts of these were good but not great. This year my garden offered up several volunteer tomatoes, including some bright yellow ones that may have been Lemon Boys from last year or yellow Kellogg's Breakfast from two years ago. Some year maybe I'll try not planting any new tomato seeds (or seedlings) in the spring just to see how many plants I end up with from volunteers.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
(Top) Swallowtail butterfly caterpillar--welcome. (Bottom) Hornworm--not welcome. (White creatures) Parasitic larvae cocoons--good. Thanks Icebear.
What are all those white things on the bottom worm? Aphids? And I wonder if the top worm is just a younger version of the bottom worm? They feasted on my tomato leaves. Not sure if they go for the fruit too but I picked some pretty gnarly looking tomatoes today. Someone, other than the groundhogs and rabbits, has been enjoying my crop.
Tree gone. Very sad. Guy shown climbing broke a bone in his knee while cutting down a limb. Dangerous work, but he'll be OK.
Middle picture shows how the tree was leaning toward our deck. And much of the weight was on that side of the tree. Too many huge tulip poplars have fallen in this neighborhood this summer. We weren't willing to gamble that this wouldn't be the next one to fall. Of course there's a twin poplar about 20 feet away that isn't on our property. If it falls southwest it will fall on our house. Can't (won't) worry about it. What's the point? Best news? The beehive is still standing. The first crew who arrived to remove the tree last week left because the workers refused to work in a yard with a beehive. No amount of reassurance would convince them that it would be OK. The crew that came on Monday had no trouble of course. The bees were perfect ladies.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
This photo is from this collection.
I came across Elly, her photos, and her blog through her husband's very nice gardening blog.
I've always thought these old-fashioned Airstreams were so romantic. But looking at Elly's pictures of the work involved in renovations adds a new feel to the word "romantic."
Monday, August 16, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Friday, August 13, 2010
The yellow one is almost certainly a Gold Medal, which is an indeterminate tomato -- that means it bears fruit throughout the season and is viney. The others are either Black Sea Man or Black Krim, which are determinate tomatoes -- that means they bear fruit all at once and are more compact and less viney. Or so I read. I lost the labels so until now I haven't had a clue which was which. Tomatoes seem to be very late this year.
Scott (with a bee tattoo!) may take down this massive tree. I'm not going to tell you how much he wants for the job...too painful to type the number.
I'll get a second bid on the tree removal but I really want to give the job to The Bee Tattoo Man. What are the chances of him coming along to give us an estimate? He's been in the neighborhood for 2 weeks removing other tulip poplars that crashed into back yards across the street. Not sure exactly why he has such a beautiful bee on his arm -- he saw my hive immediately upon entering the back yard and asked about it. His soon-to-be-ex-grandfather-in-law (life is complicated) keeps bees so maybe that was the impetus.
This go-around brought down a couple of huge limbs from a massive tulip poplar very near our house. We haven't dug out completely because the limbs are too heavy to lift. The big old tree will probably have to come down. ($$$$) The cleanup from all of this will make mincemeat of our backyard. Lost a dogwood, much of a redbud, and part or all of some maples. Power was out for only 16 hours this time. Third time we've lost power in 2 1/2 weeks. Life goes on. Change is good. Blah, blah, blah.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
I opened the hive yesterday and added more sugar water. Any "honey" I get from this colony next yr will be more sugar than nectar, I'm willing to bet.
But the point, I'm told, is to get the hive as large and strong as possible before winter sets in. And to make sure there are lots of capped honey cells for the bees to eat over the long winter, when the bees will form a big ball and stay alive by generating their own heat. So a big ball is better than a small ball -- generates more heat. The ball slowly moves around the hive* during the winter so the bees can eat the honey stores, and any supplemental food I give them. (You don't want to open the hive to add food in the winter b/c the act of removing the top will allow cold air inside--you're doing more harm than good.) I think.
*But, and it's a big but. The ball o' bees doesn't always know to reverse direction to find stores of honey. I haven't learned everything yet about this phenomenon but there's something about the ball moving only in a straight line or only in one direction and the bees sometimes starving even though there's food in another corner of the hive. Something like that.
I just finished reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. What a miserable book. Yes, I finished it because I did want to know how it ended. But ugh, what a horrible book. Torture (and worse) is a prime feature. I'm cleansing my palette with Barbara Kingsolver's soothing book. If you haven't already I recommend that you don't read Tattoo. And forgodssake don't see the movie. Isn't there enough torture and mutilation on the front pages of the newspaper every day? Do we really need more in our fiction and movies?
Got lots of green tomatoes. Well, not a "lot" but some. I wonder if the blossom end rot I got this year and last is because I ignore all the rules about when to water a garden? I never water early in the day, as instructed. I always water in the late afternoon or evening. Bad gardener.
Friday, August 6, 2010
There's an outdoor public pool across the park from our house, about 3/4 of a mile away as the bee flies. I stepped on a bumblebee there yesterday. The sting hurts but it's tolerable and doesn't hurt all the time. Today when I woke up it itched like crazy and in my semi-sleep I scratched it so hard that it's now swollen (and still a little itchy).
Over the last 3 months, I've been stung 4 times by my honey bees and each time the pain was gone in minutes. In all those cases I was not wearing any protective equipment and I was poking around their hive so what did I expect? I was prepared for the stings, and they were all on my arms or legs, not on the sensitive inner sole of my foot. This sting was totally unexpected and I'm pretty sure it was a small bumblebee rather than a honey bee. There are interesting differences between honey bee stingers and bumble bee stingers. I'm not sure if the actual venom is the same or different.
The sting of a bumblebee has no barbs.
The sting of a honeybee does have barbs.
A bumblebee worker or queen can withdraw her sting and is able to sting again.
After a honeybee stings her enemy, the stinger (usually) stays in the stingee, along with the bee's venom gland or sac that gets ripped out of her body. The bee then dies. I say "usually" because it's possible -- I've read -- for a bee to jab her stinger into her enemy just a bit; if it doesn't go in far enough for the barbs to catch on the stingee's skin the stinger will not detach from the bee's body and she'll live to sting another day. But that's the exception, not the rule.
I wonder if I'm especially sensitive now that I've been stung a number of times? I've read that this can happen to beekeepers but I thought it took many years of exposure to the venom before it kicked in. Or maybe I'm more sensitive to bumblebee venom? One more thing I'll never know the answer to.
Picture is an unrelated bumblebee on the bergamot or bee balm (Monarda fistulosa) in my front yard.