I was beginning to think the swarms were not going to materialize.  I thought maybe I wasn't trying hard enough to entice a swarm to look over the log hive.  I decided to step up my game plan.  Kids like honeycomb and I know bees like honeycomb.  I cut off a small piece for each kid.

I was beginning to think the swarms were not going to materialize. I thought maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough to entice a swarm to look over the log hive. I decided to step up my game plan. Kids like honeycomb and I know bees like honeycomb. I cut off a small piece for each kid (after sampling it myself first, of course).

My wife was busy working in the greenhouse.  She could hear the swarm coming from over the trees.  She ran into the print shop to alert me.  I grabbed my camera while they were descending in the area by the log hive.  I groaned…”not another little swarm” as that’s exactly what it looked like.  But that was only the advance party.  As they started landing on the log, more and more of them floated down, landing on the log hive, but waiting to enter.  My wife wondered if the honeycomb was in the way.  Ha ha, I agreed and popped it into my mouth. :)

5-13-15...Big news today:  A ginormous swarm is moving INTO my Grand Kids Log hive today!  I don't know if it was because of the honeycomb or spacious accommodations, but I think this is the swarm I was looking for.

5-13-15…I don’t know if it was because of the honeycomb or the spacious accommodations, but this  swarm came to stay.

It was unclear exactly when this second swarm came along, but it wasn't much later, probably less than half an hour.  It was another big one.  At first I wondered if the first one had decided to back out, but I checked the probe thermometer which showed 76F.

It was unclear exactly when this second swarm came along, but it wasn’t much later, probably less than half an hour. It was another big one. At first I wondered if the first one had decided to back out, but I checked the probe thermometer which showed 76F.

Internal temp at 76F at 5:20 pm.  That means the original hive is in there.

Internal temp at 76F at 5:20 pm. That means the original swarm is still in there.

The next day, the second swarm is still 'hanging out.'  They hung around until about 3:15 pm when I was collecting a big swarm from Bee-atrice log hive.  (When you're hot, you're hot!)

The next day, the second swarm is still ‘hanging out.’ They hung around until about 3:15 pm when I was collecting ANOTHER big swarm, this time from Bee-atrice log hive. (When you’re hot, you’re hot!)

Temperature at 80F (26C).  After they, I spotted wax flakes.  (The bees were all ready to build comb in this hive, I felt bad for them)

Temperature at 80F (26C). After the swarm left at about 3:15 pm, you can see wax flakes.  (The bees were all ready to build comb in this hive, I felt bad for them)

Brian Vorwaller, you did an beautiful job sculpting my grand kids faces on the log.

This video shows the play-by-play of the Grand Entrance of the swarm into the Grand Kids Log Hive

The set up…before bees

Bee Beard Log Hive is BACK!

Many thanks to Jeff Ollerton and HB for giving me the identity of this tree.

It just so happened that at the same time I was trying to identify the tree, we walked by Barbara's house.  She grows many bonsai trees.  We asked her if she knew what the tree was.  "Clearly it's a River Birch," she says, "compare it to my little River Birch on the left."

It just so happened that at the same time I was trying to identify the tree, we walked by Barbara’s house. She grows many bonsai trees. “Clearly it’s a River Birch,” she says, “compare it to my little River Birch on the left.”

This leaf shows a wedge-shaped base typical of the River Birch.

This leaf shows a wedge-shaped base typical of the River Birch.

The weird thing about the leaf is that there are two different shapes.  This one shows a more squarish base.  That really threw me when trying to identify the type of tree.  Both leaves are from the same tree.  Does the age of the leaf determine the shape?

The weird thing about the leaf is that there are two different shapes. This one shows a more squarish base. That really threw me when trying to identify the type of tree. Both leaves are from the same tree. Does the age of the leaf determine the shape?

May 13, 2015...Looking at a bunch of leaves together, we can see various wedge shaped bases...some more acute than others.

May 13, 2015…Looking at a bunch of leaves together, we can see various wedge shaped bases…some more acute than others.

May 13, 2015...Looking upward into the umbrella, you can see the white bark limbs...

May 13, 2015…Looking upward into the umbrella, you can see the white bark limbs…

Cinnamon bark

…but looking at the trunk, you’ll see cinnamon colored bark.

According to Wikipedia, “Betula nigra (black birch, river birch, water birch) is a species of birch native to the Eastern United States from New Hampshire west to southern Minnesota, and south to northern Florida and west to Texas.”

It grows in the East, not the West.  I guess the jury is still out on the type of birch it is.

5-13-15...Big news today:  A ginormous swarm is moving INTO my Grand Kids Log hive today!

5-13-15…Big news today: A ginormous swarm is moving INTO my Grand Kids Log hive today!  Detailed post to follow.

 

 

 

 

This is far from National Geographic video quality, but it does show the intimate relationship between the bee and the flower.  The bee lands on the flower petals, spreads out the lower ones, then triggers the pollen release possibly by pushing something with it’s head…I couldn’t see that part, but when it happens, it’s sudden and strong, like an explosion.

I sooo wanted to see a bee on this variegated Scotch Broom blossom but I never saw one.  You can tell that a bee has been there though, because the stamen have popped up.

May 3…Here’s a pretty variegated Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius).   You can tell that a bee has been there , because the stamen have already popped up.

Pollen Alert...bee triggers pollen shower, stamen pop up and rub her back.

Pollen Alert…bee has triggered a pollen shower, stamen pop up and rub anthers on her back.

This bee knows what she's doing as can be seen by the amount of pollen covering her body.

This bee has learned well how to trigger the pollen release as can be seen by the amount of pollen on herself.

I shot this video to show what our bees are doing when they leave the hive.  It may surprise you. :)

The potatoes have been weeded and hilled up.  An interesting observation...the two rows on the right were planted a month before the two rows on the left.

The potatoes have been weeded and hilled up.  ‘Survivor*’ garlic is on the left and Meadowfoam is in the background, fenced away from deer, but still accessible to the bees.  I’ll be using 12 foot lengths of 1/2″ PVC to drip water the potato rows.  The seed potatoes were planted at about 9″ distances which match up to the holes drilled into the PVC drip watering system.  *Survivor garlic is garlic that made good sized bulbs even though it got the rust virus.

The first bed of tomatoes has been transplanted from the light stand in the house. We've used the tire method for 30+ years. They will dissipate heat into the evening. The night temps will get down into the mid 40's (7C) even sometimes in the summer, so we've got to tent them.   You might have noticed the wild mustard patch in the background...that started out as a clover patch.  I wanted to grow clover to enhance the soil.  I rigged up this PVC arrangement to hold the deer netting off the expected plants.  I wanted to see the bees visit the clover blossoms in the spring.  Then we experienced a cold snap.  The clover died and the mustard plants germinated from the compost we spread out.  It grows well, but I'll probably have to spade it into the soil before it goes to seed.

The first bed of tomatoes has been transplanted from the light stand in the house. We’ve used the tire method for 30+ years. They will dissipate heat into the evening.
The night temps will get down into the mid 40’s (7C) even sometimes in the summer, so we’ve got to tent them.
You might have noticed the wild mustard patch in the background…that started out as a clover patch. I wanted to grow clover to enhance the soil. I rigged up this PVC arrangement to hold the deer netting off the expected plants. I wanted to see the bees visit the clover blossoms in the spring. Then we experienced a cold snap. The clover died and the mustard plants germinated from the compost we spread out. It grows well, too well.   I’ll probably have to spade it into the soil before it goes to seed.

A closer look at the tomatoes and watering grid.

A closer look at the tomatoes and drip watering grid.  The 1/2″ PVC has been drilled so the water drips out near the plant.  I’ve been using these for over ten years and it works well.

May 4th...The second tomato bed goes in.  You might notice the 'cloddy' soil.  I was soooo tempted to pull out my rototiller to break up the soil, but I resisted.  We've been trying to prove that we can garden without the use of fossil-fuel.  We are trying to reduce our carbon footprint.  So the soil is a bit lumpy and we're hoping the tomato plants don't mind too much.

May 4th…The second tomato bed goes in. You might notice the ‘clumpy’ soil. I was soooo tempted to pull out my rototiller to break up the soil, but I resisted. We’ve been trying to prove that we can garden without the use of fossil-fuel.  So the soil is a bit lumpy and we’re hoping the tomato plants don’t mind too much.

We've been eating lettuce and spinach from this first bed of salad greens for about three weeks.  My wife likes the wild arugula, but it's a bit hot for me.

We’ve been eating lettuce and spinach from this first bed of salad greens for about three weeks. My wife likes the wild arugula, but it’s a bit hot for me.

March 28...Planting the second bed of lettuce, Parel cabbages which were started in the house, purchased broccoli plants and maybe some collard greens.

March 28…Planting the second bed of lettuce, Parel cabbages which were started in the house, purchased broccoli plants and maybe some collard greens.

We've got to protect them from the cabbage moth.

We’ve got to protect them from the cabbage moth.

May 3...Peeking under the cloth to see how the lettuce is doing.

May 3…Peeking under the cloth to see how the lettuce is doing.

We planted the edible pod peas in the greenhouse in February.

We planted the edible pod peas in the greenhouse in February.

...and have been using the pea pods in salads and soups for a good month.

…and have been using the pea pods in salads and soups for a good month.

April 25...Since the deer like to munch on nasturtiums, we've got to protect them.  What better way than to clean out the weeds around an apple tree and plant them there.  These are a new kind that will sport red blossoms.  I hope the bees like them.

April 25…Since the deer like to munch on nasturtiums, we’ve got to protect them. What better way than to clean out the weeds around an apple tree and plant them there. These are a new kind that will sport red blossoms. I hope the bees like them.

May I say something else about Limnanthes  Douglasii Poached Egg Plant (Meadowfoam)?  It wintered over without any kind of frost protection like a tarp or a pile of leaves.  It was tough love for sure because it's in a section of the garden that's in the shade until noon.  This was self seeded from last year's crop.   The Vision Violet Geraniums also wintered over well.  Together they have been attracting the bees in the afternoon hours.

May I say something else about Limnanthes Douglasii Poached Egg Plant (Meadowfoam)? It wintered over without any kind of frost protection like a tarp or a pile of leaves. It was tough love for sure because it’s in a section of the garden that’s in the shade until noon. This was self seeded from last year’s crop which was about 1/4 the size.  (What have I started?)
The Vision Violet Geraniums also wintered over well. Together they have been attracting the bees in the afternoon hours.

May 3...I know, I know, I shouldn't have to transplant borage because it grows 'like a bad weed' around here, but there was an empty spot in the hugelkulture bed after I weeded it and the bees love it so much.  Three spade-fulls and I've got a three more spots to video the bees. :)

May 3…I know, I know, I shouldn’t have to transplant borage because it grows ‘like a bad weed’ around here, but there was an empty spot in the hugelkulture bed after I weeded it and the bees love it so much. Three spade-fulls and I’ve got a three more spots to video the bees. :)

This Cardinal Climber is supposed to attract hummingbirds.  We've started it under lights in the house.  My wife is going to donate a couple of plants to try to get it to climb up the echium 'tree.'  I think it'll be fun to see if we can get some birds and bees.

This Cardinal Climber is supposed to attract hummingbirds. We’ve started it under lights in the house. My wife is going to donate a couple of plants to try to get it to climb up the echium ‘tree.’ I think it’ll be fun to see if we can get some birds and bees.

May 3...

May 3…”Reach for the sky,” little Cardinal Climber…

...You will have to if you want to climb this

…You will have to if you want to climb this “Tower of Jewel” echium tree.  It’s 12 ft tall and growing.

I just bought this African Blue Basil.  Jeff, at my favorite nursery, tells me it's a super bee magnet which will blossom all summer.   He knows how to tempt me.

I just bought this African Blue Basil. Jeff, at my favorite nursery, tells me it’s a super bee magnet which will blossom all summer. He knows how to tempt me.

May 5...Because the bees were visiting the moss in the pond so much and because someone mentioned that his Dad used moss for a watering station, I thought I'd try it out.  Who knows, the bees might be getting some kind of essential minerals or properties from it.  I just dug some up, found a plastic container and try to keep it hydrated.  It's the only waterer I've had any success with.

May 5…Because the bees were visiting the moss in the pond so much and because someone on the biobees.com forum mentioned that his grandfather used moss for a watering station, I thought I’d try it out. Who knows, the bees might be getting some kind of essential minerals or properties from it. I just dug some up, found a plastic container and try to keep it hydrated. It’s the only waterer I’ve had any success with.

Time to roll out the

Time to roll out the “Solar Roller.” Things are drying out. This ‘solar panel roller’ can be positioned to catch the early rays of the sun as well as the sunset. I can get about 10-12 hours of sunshine if I’m conscientious about moving it twice a day.

Forgive me if I'm talking about this new bee bed too often.  It's just that we wanted to add more flowers for the bees without taking away space from the veggie garden.  This was the perfect solution...but after adding Walker's Low Nepeta, artichokes, Scabiosa, and red echium, we're already running out of space.

Forgive me if I’m talking about this new bee bed too often. It’s just that we wanted to add more flowers for the bees without taking away space from the veggie garden. This was the perfect solution…but after adding Walker’s Low Nepeta, artichokes, Scabiosa, and red echium, we’re already running out of space.

This started out as a garden video, but there was so much excitement today with two swarms happening and bees (from where?) checking out my new log hive.  I had to include some video below.

May 3...My wife suggested putting some logs around the new bee-flower bed.  I declined knowing how much work that would be.  Finding some dead trees that were long and straight enough, cutting them to size, and cutting rebar to hold them in place.   As you can see, she talked me into it.  I think it looks good.   Walker's Low Nepeta will go behind the lobelia, then some thyme, artichokes and various other bee-loving plants to flesh it out.

May 3…My wife suggested putting some logs around the new bee-flower echium bed. I declined knowing how much work that would be, finding some dead trees that were long and straight enough, cutting them to size, and hack-sawing rebar to hold them in place.  You can see who won out, but I think it looks good. Walker’s Low Nepeta (a real bee lover) will go behind the lobelia, then some thyme, artichokes, and various other bee-loving plants to flesh it out.  The Tower of Jewels echium has started blooming already.  Three plants (out of 6) made it through two winters.

I started this project about a week ago.  It kept getting bigger and bigger with all the ideas that were percolating.

I started this project about a week ago after we decided to improve the neighborhood around the new Grand Kids Log hive seen in the background.

The transplanted echiums shot up recently, 8 - 10 feet.  I transplanted them in November 2013.

The transplanted echiums shot up recently, 8 – 10 feet. I transplanted six of them in November 2013, but only 3 have wintered through.

April 29...They are starting to bloom already.  I'm looking forward to watching all kinds of bees partake of the nectar and pollen they will provide.  Footnote:  I've asked my son to practice up his guitar version of

April 29…They are starting to bloom already. I’m looking forward to watching all kinds of bees partake of the nectar and pollen they will provide. Footnote: I’ve asked my son to practice up his guitar version of “Stairway to Heaven” to accompany my video of it in full bloom.

We noticed a pile of top soil on our morning walk.  Someone had dumped it up the road from us after they were done rolling out their new turf.  My wife spotted it.

We noticed a pile of top soil on our morning walk. Someone had dumped it up the road from us after they were done rolling out their new turf. My wife spotted it. “Let’s get it.” That we did, the equivalent of four big wheelbarrow loads. Here she is raking out the treasure.  Then she put in Phacelia started from seed, lobelia, and mowed around the bed to ‘spiff it up.’

March 9, 2015...you can see how much it has grown in less than two months.

March 9, 2015…you can see how much it has grown in less than two months.  This was taken before we trimmed the branches in the background for the new log hive.

I started this post out as a garden update, but we’re so happy about this new spot for bee flowers, I wanted to post it first.

April 17, 2015...I wonder if I should hang a sign declaring,

April 19, 2015…I wonder if I should hang a sign declaring, “Top Bar Log Hive Ready for Immediate Occupancy.”

March 30, 2015...Brian Vorwaller, the wood carver is on the right...you know who on the left.  We're both happy it's delivered and set up.

March 30, 2015…Brian Vorwaller, the wood carver is on the right.  We’re both happy the log hive is on site in time for swarm season.

The very beginning of the Log Hive  or when I was still calling it The Three Kid Log Hive.

January Progress Report  Not being an expert on the chainsaw, I had been worrying about how I would be able to make the vertical cut.  I wanted it to be straight.  I didn’t want the cut to widen out in places while being narrow in others.  I used the weather for an excuse, but eventually I had to face up to the challenge so I could get the log back by April.  It worked out well.

February Progress Report

Brian Vorwaller talks about sculpting the grand kids faces

March 17 visit to see the log hive

April 2, 2015...The tree is getting leaves.  I'm hoping someone can ID this tree.

April 2, 2015…The tree is getting leaves. I’m hoping someone can ID it.

Does this look like an alder leaf?  I've looked at dozens of alder leaves, but they look slightly different...wider, with less exaggerated serrations.

Does this look like an alder leaf? I’ve looked at dozens of alder leaves, but they look slightly different…wider, with less exaggerated serrations.   Alder leaves are supposed to be egg-shaped.

This is what the back of the leaf looks like.

This is what the back of the leaf looks like.

Are these the female flowers?

Are these the female flowers?  I apologize for the blurriness of this photo, but it shows them as they are on the tree.  The below photo is sharper.

Are these the female flowers?  I snipped the branch and took it home to get a sharper photo.

I snipped the branch and took it home to get a sharper photo.

I don’t think this is a cottonwood even though the leaves are serrated, or a Balsam Poplar, or a Cascara Buckthorn, but I guess it still could be an Alder or even a birch.

You might think that I followed up on a decision to cut the ivy off this tree, but that's not factual.  After reading a comment by Steve Mitchell (in my last post) about the value of ivy growing on a tree, I hesitated.   The trimming was not done by myself, and at this time, I don't know 'who dun it."  The owners don't know either.

You might think that I followed up on a decision to cut the ivy off this tree, but that’s not factual. After reading a comment by Steve Mitchell (in my last post) about the value of ivy growing on a tree, I hesitated.
The trimming was not done by myself, and at this time, I don’t know ‘who dun it.” The owners don’t know either.

Just for a point of reference, these fir trees across the street from the mystery tree have ivy growing up their trunks.  They don't seem to be in any danger of dying, so what I've read on several web sites about ivy not being a parasite might be true.

Just for a point of reference, these fir trees across the street from the mystery tree have ivy growing up their trunks. They don’t seem to be in any danger of dying, so what I’ve read on several web sites about ivy not being a parasite might be true.

Gardening Know How says…Alder trees (Alnus spp.) are often used in reforestation projects and to stabilize soil in wet areas, but you seldom see them in residential landscapes.”

I suppose this tree could have been started just from a bird dropping a seed, but I would really like to know what it is.  Any ideas?

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 242 other followers