River Birch (Betula nigra)

June 9...Here is how the tree looked last month.  I know, I know, I didn't post it last month.  It wasn't because I got into a disagreement with a police officer about how long to wait for someone in the crosswalk before turning right...he was lenient on me and luckily didn't give me a citation.  Nor was it because I had to watch the first episode of Poldark on Masterpiece Theatre, or maybe it was. :) I promise to be more punctual in the future.

June 9…Here is how the tree looked last month. I know, I know, I didn’t post it last month. It wasn’t because I got into a disagreement with a police officer about how long to wait for someone in the crosswalk before turning right.  Nor was it because I wanted to watch the first episode of Poldark on Masterpiece Theatre, or maybe it was. :) in any case, I promise to be more punctual in the future.

When the valley gets hot, clouds get sucked in from the ocean, resulting in cloudy weather on the coast, and less than perfect picture-taking weather.     A River birch can grow as tall as 70 ft. (21 meters) if it's a single trunk.  If the trunk branches out, the height will be limited to about 50 ft (15 m) with a 40 ft. breadth.

When the valley gets hot, clouds get sucked in from the ocean, resulting in cloudy weather on the coast, and less than perfect picture-taking weather.
A River birch can grow as tall as 70 ft. (21 meters) if it’s a single trunk. If the trunk branches out, the height will be limited to about 50 ft (15 m) with a 40 ft. breadth.  It requires acidic soil which is consistently moist.  It grows along waterways or at the edge of  wooded areas, or in this case, on the edge of someone’s property.

Last month the leaves and catkins looked like this. I believe these are male catkins which point in a downward direction.

Last month the leaves and catkins looked like this.
I believe these are male catkins which point in a downward direction.

7-5-15...This month I don't see much difference except for the lack of contrast from overcast picture taking.

7-5-15…This month I don’t see much difference except for the lack of contrast from overcast picture taking.

6-9-15...Look at that rugged and gnarly trunk.  Does that spell "CHARACTER" or what?

6-9-15…What a rugged and gnarly trunk.  As the tree matures (40 years) the bark thickens, darkens, and becomes deeply fissured beginning at the bases of the trunks.  This tree must be over 40 years old.

July 5...another look at the trunk of the River Birch. One of its characteristics is that bark flakes off the tree revealing the multicolored layers of the inner bark. This can be seen towards the top of the trunk.  According to "The Master Gardener at University of Wisconsin," it naturally forms just a single trunk, but is sometimes sold in multiple-trunked form with two to five trunks per tree.

July 5…another look at the trunk of the River Birch. One of its characteristics is that bark exfoliates revealing the multicolored layers of the inner bark. This can be seen towards the top of this trunk. According to “The Master Gardener at University of Wisconsin,” River birch naturally forms just a single trunk, but is sometimes sold in multiple-trunked form with two to five trunks per tree.

The River birch can thrive in damp soil, but it can also take a certain amount of drought.  Birch roots, along with willow and poplar, are among the most aggressive — and destructive — tree roots.  The tree’s aggressive roots seek water, prying open cracks or joints in sewer or irrigation systems.

Note:  I’m about 85% sure this tree is a River birch.  The 15% uncertainty is because when I compare this River birch tree trunk to the River birch tree trunks on the internet, I don’t see any like this one.  Furthermore, the catkins look slightly different too.  If there are any birch tree experts out there that would like to make a correction, please feel free to do so.

The following web sites were used for River birch information…

Wisconsin Master Gardener Program

Garden Guides

Anne Carlsmith

The new Echium Bee Bed is filling in well.  From the lobelia in the front to the tallest Tower of Jewels echium plant, they all attract bees.

The new Echium Bee Bed is filling in well. From the colorful lobelia in front to the tallest Tower of Jewels echium plant, they all attract bees.

July 3...Hugelkulture bed is looking so much better since we weeded, planted, and mulched with compost and wood chips.

July 3…The Hugelkulture bed is looking so much better since we weeded, planted, and mulched with compost and wood chips.

A view from our garden bench in July reveals the garden in full glory.

A view from our garden bench in July reveals the garden in full glory.

July 3...The dwarf sunflowers are open and attracting bees already.  It's older siblings can only watch with envy.

July 3…The dwarf sunflowers are open and attracting bees already. It’s older siblings can only watch with envy.

This deer seems to be asking me the question...

This deer seems to be asking me the question…”What are you doing out here at this time in the evening, this is MY time?”  In the video you’ll see why she looked up…she picked up the sound of the camera’s zoom lens.  Their hearing is phenomenal, but luckily their eyesight isn’t that good.  I’m standing in the sunlight just a short distance away, but she can’t see me very well.

Arrrgh!  Deer damage!

Arrrgh! Deer damage!

I'm not sure if there's any reason to net what's left of these potatoes.  They have been stripped of their leaves by the 'cute' deer. :(

I’m not sure if there’s any reason to net what’s left of these potatoes. They have been stripped of their leaves by the ‘cute’ deer. :(

I mulched this corn in the morning...by the afternoon, the deer had already sampled it.  A temporary fence is now in place to protect it...I hope it recovers.

I mulched this corn in the morning…by the afternoon, the deer had already sampled it. A temporary fence is now in place to protect it…I hope it recovers.

This tomato's only crime was to be planted at the end of the bed where the deer could reach it easily.

This tomato’s only crime was to be planted at the end of the bed where the deer could reach it easily.

Planted from seed last year, these Hollyhocks have survived the deer twice.   We're so happy to finally see the blooms, but we've yet to see the bees on them.

Planted from seed last year, these Hollyhocks have survived the deer twice. We’re so happy to finally see the blooms, but we’ve yet to see any bees on them.

Purple Poppy Pollen

A frame from the video shows the bee covered with purple pollen.

A frame from the video shows the bee covered with purple pollen.

This bee fell from the poppy which was wet from the sprinkler.  I spotted it here before it took off.

This bee fell from the poppy which was wet from the sprinkler. I spotted it here before it took off.

June 19...Unidentified street performers provide the perfect background music for the bee gathering poppy pollen video.

June 19…Unidentified street performers provide the perfect background music for the bee gathering poppy pollen video.

Big Swarm in Escallonia hedge.

Big Swarm in Escallonia hedge.

Another look at the swarm after removing some branches.

Another look at the swarm after removing some branches.

 Using a stick of bamboo, I positioned the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher as close as I could.  Steve slowly lifted the branch and yanked it down.  Most of the bees fell into the sack, some missed and landed on the white sheet below.


Using a stick of bamboo, I positioned the Steinkraus-Morse Swarm Catcher as close as I could. Steve slowly lifted the branch and yanked it down hard. Most of the bees fell into the sack, some missed and landed on the white sheet below.

That sack was heavy, heavier than any other swarm I've ever caught.  I had to be careful not to crush any bees when I flipped it over into the bucket.

That sack was heavy, heavier than any other swarm I’ve ever caught. I had to be careful not to crush any bees when I flipped it over into the bucket.

First bucket is full.

First bucket is full.

After another catch in the sack, this bucket was full.  The rest of the bees were clinging to the branch, so I tried out my homemade bee vac for the first time...

After another catch in the sack, this second bucket was full. The rest of the bees were clinging to the branch, so I tried out my homemade bee vac for the first time…

Even more bees in the bee vac which I recently built using a vacuum made for a 5 gallon bucket lid.  I used a dimmer switch (as seen to the right of the bucket) so I could adjust the suction to avoid harming the bees.  I'm happy to report that no dead bees were found.  The dimmer switch worked perfectly.  Plans were found at beesource.com .

…which I recently built using a vacuum made for a 5 gallon bucket lid. I used a dimmer switch (as seen to the right of the bucket) so I could adjust the suction to avoid harming the bees. I’m happy to report that no dead bees were found. The dimmer switch worked perfectly. Plans were found at beesource.com .

Judging from the bees gathered on the outside of this bucket, I think it's safe to say, the queen is within.

Judging from the bees gathered on the outside of this bucket, I think it’s safe to say, the queen is within.

Big Swarm has a new home.

Big Swarm has a new home.

June 18, 2015...Steve reports that his 'girls' are doing well.

June 18, 2015…Steve writes, “Just an update, “girls” doing well.  Happy pollinators week!

The above swarm worked out well, but it was only after we abandoned our efforts to try to bag the swarm below.

This was a 'pancake' swarm,' lying on the ground in front of a recently occupied Warre hive.   Are they going in? It looks like it...but they decided not to enter the bait hive.

This was a ‘pancake’ swarm,’ lying on the ground in front of a recently occupied Warre hive.
Are they going in? It looks like it…but they decided against it.

I replaced the bait hive with Steve's Langstroth hive, then tried sweeping them into a dust pan and dropping it into the Lang...not so fast, they break for the Warre hive.

I replaced the bait hive with Steve’s Langstroth hive, then tried sweeping them into a dust pan and dropping it into the Lang…not so fast, they break for the Warre hive.

I figured,

I figured, “okay, they made their choice,” but a couple of hours later, I found them going back to the Lang.

...all grouped up on the SIDE of the hive.

…eventually grouping up on the SIDE of the hive.

Since the swarm had been without water, I provided some sugar water to try to entice them into the Lang.  They would have to go into it to access the sugar water.

Since the swarm had been without water or sustenance for a few days, I provided some sugar water to try to entice them into the Lang. They would have to go into the hive to access the sugar water.  That ought to work…it didn’t.

Then the bees move over here about 5 feet.  I set up some moss water...

A day later, the bees moved over here about 5 feet away. I set up some moss water…

...and an inverted swarm catcher.  I called Steve saying I didn't think he would want this little swarm.  It's possible that it's a cast swarm with a virgin queen that can't fly.  He agreed.    Four days later we get the swarm call for the one in the escallonia hedge.  We both agree we're glad we waited.

…and an inverted swarm catcher. I called Steve saying I didn’t think he would want this little swarm. It’s possible that it’s a cast swarm with a virgin queen that can’t fly.
Four days later we get the swarm call for the one in the escallonia hedge. We both agree we’re glad we waited.

Where else would you see a sign like this?

Long Live the Bees! My daughter sent me this photo as seen on one of her walks in the

Long Live the Bees! My daughter sent me this photo as seen on one of her walks in the “Friendly Street” neighborhood. When I visited Eugene, I made an effort to find out the story of the sign.
The kids who live here attend the school where Jen Hornaday has donated a bee hive as a school project. In learning about bees, the kids have found out about their importance in nature, importance to our food supply, and how important it is to grow gardens in a poison-free environment.
Hence the sign.

Friendly Street, Eugene, Oregon.

Friendly Street, Eugene, Oregon.

In walking through the Friendly Street neighborhood, I noticed quite a few gardens in the front yards.

In walking through the Friendly Street neighborhood, I noticed quite a few gardens in front yards.

This is Scott's garden.  I was particularly impressed by his ambitious poles for pole beans.  I wondered how he would pick the beans at the top.

This is Scott’s garden. I was particularly impressed by his ambitious poles for pole beans. I wonder how he will pick the beans at the top.

Scott had to point out another of his creations.  I asked him what it was...

Scott pointed out another of his creations entitled “Coyote eating garden gnome,” sculpted during a wild creative evening of gin.

The blue flowers are Black Cumin.

The blue flowers are Black Cumin.  Black Cumin seeds are some of the most revered medicinal seeds in history.  Photo Credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

I wanted to ask the owner of Crow Feather Farm, about the solar panels array, but I was taken by all the flowers and time was short.

I wanted to ask the owner about the solar panels array, but I was taken by all the flowers and time was short.  Photo credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

I need a sign like this.  Photo credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

I need a sign like this. Photo credit to Crow Feather Farm, Eugene, OR.

George explained while this is his garden, he shares space with the kids down the street who tend the squash.

George explained while this is his garden, he shares space with the kids down the street who tend the squash.

Carmella's corner lot garden.

Carmella’s corner lot garden.

This one year old is intent on one thing only...getting the sweetness out of the strawberry.

This one year old is intent on one thing only…getting the sweetness out of the strawberry.

This is Jim's front yard.  He apologized for the fence, but he says it keeps the deer out.  I can relate.

This is Jim’s front yard. He apologized for the fence, but he says it keeps the deer out. I can relate.

Where does the Friendly Street go?  To the Friendly Park, of course.

Where does the Friendly Street go? To the Friendly Park, of course, which is how I discovered this lovely neighborhood when my daughter walked us to it.

Playing at the park...You just might see the resemblance on

Playing at the park…You might just see the resemblance on “The Grand Kids Log Hive.”

Other reasons to like Eugene…

…Beyond Toxics is located in Eugene.  Beyond Toxics works to guarantee environmental protections and health for all communities and residents;

Sam Bonds Brewery,  just celebrated the first anniversary of the Tasting Room Opening;

Eugene Bike trails are quite extensive;  and it’s a great place to live.

May 31...The Bee Garden is shaping up after Sue added her brick work.  We like it so much we're going to add more on the other side.   The photo shows just some of the bee-loving plants we're growing...some from seed, some from our favorite nursery.

May 31…The Bee Garden is shaping up after Sue added her brick work. We like it so much we’re going to add more on the other side.
The photo shows just some of the bee-loving plants we’re growing…some from seed, some from our favorite nursery.

I just noticed these ferns practically overgrowing the little Birdhouse Bee hive.

I just noticed these ferns practically overgrowing the little Birdhouse Bee hive.

I successfully trimmed the ferns without getting stung.  The bees probably don't care one way or the other, but it gives me a clear shot with the camera.

I successfully trimmed the ferns without getting stung. The bees probably don’t care one way or the other, but it gives me a clear shot with the camera.

Are these drones?  It almost looks like it.  Drones sometimes mean swarms (before or after)...I'm hoping this is before so I can encourage them into an empty Warre hive with their name on it. :)

Are these drones? It almost looks like it. Drones sometimes mean swarms (before or after)…I’m hoping this is before so I can encourage them into an empty Warre hive with their name on it. :)

May 31...The hugelkulture bed needs a little more work for sure.  This is a 'before' picture.

May 31…The hugelkulture bed needs a little more work for sure. This is a ‘before’ picture.  I’d like to make a little path going past the hive and circling back past the sunflowers I just planted (if the slugs don’t eat them first.

May 21, 2015.....Hal stands proudly next to his log hive #4. The bees voted his hive as their top favorite place and moved in about two weeks ago. How tall is it...? Eight feet tall (2.4 meters) Bee hive capacity is 7524 cubic inches (123 liters)

May 21, 2015…..Hal stands proudly next to his log hive #4.  Bees voted his hive as their top favorite place and moved in about two weeks ago. How tall is it…? Eight feet tall (2.4 meters) Bee hive capacity is 7524 cubic inches (123 liters)

Frames are cut away to be able to see the comb being built through the observation window.

Frames are cut away to be able to see the comb being built through the observation window.

Looking inside the hive during the construction phase, you can see the screen Hal nailed in to let the mites fall down.

Looking inside the hive during the construction phase, you can see the screen Hal nailed in to let the mites fall through.

Bottom board holder slot

Bottom board holder slot

Hal explains the construction of it.

Hal explains the construction of it.

May 18...Comb length after about two weeks 3 days.  Note the mid entrance hole.

May 18…Comb length after about two weeks. Note the mid entrance hole.

May 21...Three days later, the comb is even with the mid entrance hole.

May 21…Three days later, the comb is even with the mid entrance hole.

Log hive #5? Hal already has the wood for it. He will be using cedar this time.  Solarbeez might have to build one too. :)

Log hive #5? Hal already has the wood for it. He will be using cedar this time.
Solarbeez might have to build one too. :)

It's Garden Time...and time for Patti to show off her garden.

It’s Garden Time…and time for Patti to show it to us.

Patti, a young 80 year-old,  built this fountain and pond completely by herself.

Patti, a young 80 year-old, built this fountain and did all the landscaping for the garden.  The surface she’s standing on are old recycled roofing tiles.

Lobelia grows between the steps that lead to the deck.

Lobelia grows between the steps that lead to the deck.

Cosmos is blooming already.

Cosmos are blooming already.

Sedum will provide much needed nectar during August and September.  I'm very grateful to Hal and Patti for alerting me to this wonderful nectar source for my bees.

Sedum will provide much needed nectar during August and September. I’m very grateful to Hal and Patti for alerting me to this wonderful nectar source for my bees.

What do you do with a log hive that has rotted out?  If you're Hal and Patti Strain, you'll make a pretty flower bed out of it.  They've already had some requests to make more.

What do you do with a log hive that has rotted out? If you’re Hal and Patti Strain, you’ll make a pretty flower bed out of it. They’ve already had requests to make more.

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