Bombus mixtus enjoying the sage blossoms and snowberry in our front yard
Honeybee collecting nectar=Sage Honey this fall
©Tracey Byrne 2017
Did you know that almost 90% of all flowering plants rely on animals, rather than the wind, for pollination? Over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators. The vast majority of animal pollinators are insects such as beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies and moths; of these, bees pollinate the largest number of plant species. About 1,000 species of pollinators are hummingbirds, bats and other small mammals (Pollinator Partnership, 2017).
Visit Pollinator Partnership and bee inspired with ways to support all our pollinators
Our Flow Hive has an observation window, which is SO cool.
I tried something new this year: I put TWO upper entrances on the Flow hive; this gives the girls two separate pathways straight into the Flow deep with their nectar and pollen and seems to be more efficient for everyone. We are just running one hive this year, as we lost a queen in early June and decided to just combine them rather than re-queen so late. They are going strong! Looking forward to our first Flow Hive harvest this summer.
Best review of the Flow Hive: by Hillary of Girl Next Door Honey
Six Weeks of Asparagus EVERYthing
Rhubarb coffee cake
Frisbee-sized (and edible) Shaggy Parasol mushrooms
This lovely watershed map was hanging at Seward Park;
here are some Seattle Public Utilities links to our watersheds and watershed projects.
This winter Seattle broke its rainfall record with 44.7 inches of rain (that is almost 4 feet!) between October and April, making it our wettest winter since 1895. We also had our coldest winter since 1985, which means that even if you are a winter person at heart, you too are ready to sit on your patio with an umbrella drink (and complain about the heat :^)
Sunday stroll around Seward Park
Our two new hives are thriving in spite of the rainy cool weather. We started them both with several frames of honey, and they have been bringing in pollen like crazy for the new brood. Pollen is coming in from many sources including epimedium, forget-me-not, and arugula.
Here you can see pollen stores for the larvae, as well as capped brood and new honey. We installed the bees on April 2, so the first batch of babees should be hatching this week. We are running one regular hive and one FLOW hive this year, so stay tuned.
Birding in the Rio de Plata: Great Kiskadee, Dusky-legged Guan, and the (not-so) Giant Wood Rail.
(images of Kiskadee and Guan from "All About Birds" and "Animalia Life"
Evening hike to the river and birding from the sunny B&B on stilts
Find out more at Cornell Lab of Ornithology Neotropical Birds
I wanted to share with you the gentlest and most elegant way to install a package of bees into your beehive. If you have ever shaken honeybees out of their box, you know it is both exciting and a bit frightening, but it also is a little rough on the bees. We have been employing this new, improved strategy for the last several years, and hope you will give it a try.
First, we readied each hive by putting two frames of honey into each deep, along with the already built-out frames in our two empty hives. Then we just removed the can of syrup (no longer needed) and carefully placed the queen in her little cage and the open box of bees into each hive (having first removed the cork on the queen cage and replaced it with a bit of marshmallow). We then put the lid on and give the bee-girls a couple days to release the queen, and Voila! Happy Bees.
What a lazy way to load the hives. We loved it.
Package of bees, waiting to be installed
Package on its side; queen cage and syrup removed
Ready for the cover: let rest for two days
This year we expanded our GBBC (from only our backyard) to include a walk around the frog ponds at Magnusen Park. We have recently picked up Siblings Guide to Ducks and "Duck-like" birds; this enabled us to ID some cool-looking duck dudes: Hooded Mergansers, American Wigeons, and Ring-necked ducks. Our total species count over the four days was 33 species.
I have to admit, my favorite bird of the 4-day count was the tiny male Downy Woodpecker, who we first heard, then spotted, in the woods near the frog ponds. I do not have a photo of this little red-capped beauty, but instead have posted two action shots of the Northern Flicker, who came to dine with three of his buddies on the last day of the count. I love those elegant dappled feathers.
Please join me this year, in Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Great Backyard Bird Count.
Invite your friends!
Just about everyone I know has been suffering through this winter's cold and flu season.
My remedy includes hot toddies, as well as sending lovely local bird note cards to friends and family.
Birds of Note Postcards
Don't forget to top them off with USPS postcard and Forever bird stamps!