Posts Tagged ‘Tower of Jewels’

2779 Andrea's swarm, view, 4-16-16 copy

April 16…Andrea called to let us know she had a newly formed swarm, hanging about chest high off the yellow plum tree…did we want it? “ABSOLUTELY!”

2780A Shaking swarm into bucket, 4-16-16 copy

It was pretty easy to ‘pop’ the bees into the bucket…

2802A Brown Warré, 4-19-16 copy

…and into a Warré hive. Back to having bees again. Thank you, Andrea Gatov!

2756 Echium against blue sky, 4-15-16

I’ve been protecting this echium plant for two years. It has finally paid off with these bluish-red blossoms. Just in time for the bees. I think this is Wild Prettii echium.

2804A Bee near Echium, 4-19-16 copy

The day after we hived Andrea’s swarm, the bees were all over this shapely echium plant.

2804B Bee on Wild Prettii, 4-19-16 copy

One of our new guests partakes of the nectar.

2757A Bumblebees like it too copy

Yellow-faced bumblebees like it too.

2833 Turnip flowers, 4-21-16

Turnip flowers collect bees.  Is that a ‘hat’ on Bee Beard Log Hive???

22A Turnip flowers, 4-21,16 copy

April 21…Close-up on turnip flowers.

 

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I could have shot a bunch of stills of these bees pollinating flowers, but the video together with the music conveys so much more.

I hope you especially enjoy the leaf cutter bees demonstrating their petal cutting abilities and the crab spider attacking the honeybee…and missing!  Hooray!

I shot some more video today (August 7) to show that the bees are still going strong on the African Blue Basil in August.  It’s good to have something for them after the main nectar flow of blackberries.  Jeff Kerker says that the African Blue Basil will produce flowers all summer.

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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.

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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.

July 14, 2015...In the spring, we enlarged this bed and planted some bee-loving plants along with the echium.

July 14, 2015…The Towers of Jewels echium is standing tall in the background.  The other bee plants are filling in nicely.

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It should be raining sideways right now in March, but because the East Coast is grabbing all the cold air, we’ve been enjoying 66˙F weather on The Oregon Coast.

Because of the warm spell, we were able to move some things off the light stand and into the garden.  These lettuce, Parel cabbages, and (bought) broccoli were put into ground today.

Because of the warm spell, we were able to move some things off the light stand in the house and into the garden. These lettuce and Parel cabbage plants, and (bought) broccoli were put into ground today.

March 28...66˙F (18˙C)  Looking at tomorrow's weather forecast, I'm going to have to look for a shade cloth for the new transplants.

March 28…66˙F (18˙C) Looking at tomorrow’s weather forecast, I’m going to have to find a shade cloth for the new transplants.  Michael Marlow says it was 28˙F in Western Massachusetts this morning, lightly snowing on the foot of snow already there.

We even brought the Sun Oven to bake up a pot of beans.

We even brought out the Sun Oven to bake up a pot of beans.

While my wife was transplanting, I was preparing a base for my new log hive.  The wood carver said he would bring it out Monday.  I think I'm ready with packed sand under these heavy cement blocks.

While my wife was transplanting, I was preparing a base for my new log hive. The wood carver said he would bring it out Monday. I think I’m ready with packed sand under these heavy cement blocks.

When I proposed using an old bird feeding station on the log hive, Brian Vorwaller went quiet.  I don’t think he really wanted to see that old thing on top of his beautiful creation, so he asked me for another chunk of wood.

March 21...From this chunk of wood comes...

March 21…From this chunk of wood (in the care of the wood carver) comes…

...the pitched roof that will serve as the rain-shedding top of my Grand Kids Log hive.

…the ‘shake’ roof that will serve as the rain-shedding top of my Grand Kids Log hive.  It’s hard to see, but the quilt box is on the bottom 4 inches of it.  Brian worked it into the design so well.

March 28...To the bees' delight, our flowering cherry tree is in full bloom.

March 28…To the bees’ delight, our flowering cherry tree is in full bloom.

 

The Tower of Jewels echium are going to bloom this year...HOORAY!  I've waited two years for this.  They should bloom for about 3 months giving out nectar all day long.  How do I know they will bloom?

The Tower of Jewels echium plants are going to bloom this year…HOORAY! I’ve waited two years for this. They should bloom for about 3 months giving out nectar all day long. How do I know they will bloom?

They have shot up about 4 feet in the last month, but the telltale sign is under the leaves where they meet the main stem...bud beginnings!

They have shot up about 4 feet in the last month, but the telltale sign is under the leaves where they meet the main stem…bud beginnings!

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Some of the bulbs being planted for the bees

Some of the bulbs being planted for the bees.  I was able to purchase these locally from my favorite nursery, 101 Plants and Gifts.

It’s possible that everyone already knows certain bulbs provide an early nectar source for bees.  I might be new to the game because, well, I’ve never really been overly appreciative of growing flowers.  “They take up space and use precious water.”  Being on a shallow well makes you a water miser.  But these grow during the rainy season.  Some can even be planted in the front lawn, not taking up space or using extra water as in the Siberian Squill.  Being a beekeeper has changed my attitude towards flowers.  Now my motto is, ” You can never have too many (bee-loving) flowers.”

Since I recently broke up a new patch of ground for the Towers of Jewel ‘trees’, I have some extra space I can dedicate to bulbs.  Che Guebuddha,  a blogger from Sweden,  mentioned even more bulbs like the white Snow Drops and the yellow Eranthis.  A quick call to find out I can’t get them locally, but I CAN get them from John Scheepers on the east coast.  I order another 150 more.  Looks like I’ll have to break more ground.  As an after thought I wonder if I have to worry about poisons on the bulbs.  Alicia at the customer service desk of John Scheepers, Inc. assures me “there are no sprays, poisons, or toxins associated with these bulbs.”  Good!  They are going in next weekend.

With the addition of bulbs, we'll provide early nectar as well as summer food.

Newly planted “Tower of Jewel ‘trees.  I’m counting on these plants to grow about 10 feet (3 meters) this spring.  With the addition of bulbs, we’ll be able to provide an early nectar source as well as mid summer nourishment for the honeybees and bumblebees.

12-26-13...Persian Blue Alliums are up already.  I don't know if that's a good thing or not!  I'm protecting this patch because the sub freezing temps are bad for the echium...something I didn't think about when I planted the bulbs. :-(

12-26-13…Drumstick Alliums are up already. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not! I’m protecting this patch because the sub freezing temps are bad for the echium (Tower of Jewels)…something I didn’t think about when I planted the bulbs. 😦

February 5, 2014...Grape Hyacinth and 15 Drumstick Allium are up.  Giant Snowdrops just breaking.

February 5, 2014…Grape Hyacinth and 15 Drumstick Allium are up. Giant Snowdrops just breaking.

February 5, 2-14...close up of Grape Hyacinth.  My wife says I planted them too close together.  She might be right.

February 5, 2014…close up of Grape Hyacinth. My wife says I planted them too close together. She might be right.

 

 

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But they ARE echium ‘trees’;  more specifically, Towers of Jewels.

I spaded the this patch of turf, then kept finding more and more transplants to put in.

I spaded the this patch of turf, then kept finding more and more transplants to put in.

Last year the only one I had grew 10 feet (3 meters) in a single year.  The bumblebees loved it.  They worked it mid May til mid September.  I kept thinking about collecting seeds, then forgot.  Not to worry, I’ve got plenty of ‘upstarts’ now.

If I ever had any doubts that the Tower of Jewels would throw seeds, those doubts have vanished.  Self-seeded echium in garlic bed.

If I ever had any doubts that the Tower of Jewels would throw seeds, those doubts have vanished.      I’ve got to get these out of here to plant garlic.  If I don’t transplant them, my wife has threatened to ‘toss’ them.  Why?  We have so many.

The plants don't have big root balls.   Hope they take.

The plants don’t have big root balls. Hope they take.

These look a little wilty.

October 20, hummm, they look a little wilty.  I better water them.

November 9, 2013...They are starting to look better after I trimmed the lower leaves. What are the tires for?  They are to hold up the tarp to protect them from freezing.  Not too hard to cover them when they are this short.

November 9, 2013…They are starting to look better after I trimmed the lower leaves.
What are the tires for? They are to hold up a tarp to protect them from freezing.

November 13...Echium in the sun, looks good.

November 13…Echium in the sun, looks good.  This will be the area I’ll plant some of my “Bulbs for the Bees,”  Snowdrops, Winter Aconite, and Siberian Scilla.

According to Palmbob, at Dave’s garden, trying to transplant it, ends up killing it, but these are still growing almost a month after transplanting.    The Tower of Jewels is a member of the Boraginaceae family which includes borage (grows all year here) and comfrey which I planted 40 years ago and is still coming back.  I’m hoping these will grow to be tall nectar sources for bees and butterflies.

11-24-13...I've had to take drastic action for the cold weather.  Bags of leaves hold up the tarp, tires hold it down.

11-24-13…I’ve had to take drastic action for the cold weather. Bags of leaves hold up the tarp, tires hold it down.

12-26-13...These echium have definitely taken a hit from the sub freezing temps we've been experiencing for a couple of weeks.  I hope they make it.

12-26-13…These echium have definitely taken a hit from the sub freezing temps we’ve been experiencing for a couple of weeks. I hope they make it.

February 5, 2014...Five out of six have survived so far.  These sub freezing nights are NOT helping.  I cover them with blankets and a plastic tarp every night.

February 5, 2014…Five out of six have survived so far. These sub freezing nights are NOT helping. I cover them with blankets and a plastic tarp every night.

February 5, 2014...new growth means it's still alive!  More cold nights forecast so I've got to keep them protected.

February 5, 2014…new growth means it’s still alive! More cold nights forecast so I’ve got to keep them protected.

Feb. 5, 2014...These four echium are more slightly more protected.  They were put here as a back up (Plan Bee)

Feb. 5, 2014…These four echium in the backyard are slightly more protected. They were put here as a back up (Plan Bee).  I didn’t think it was a very good spot because of the shade, but they are doing the best of the bunch.

12-29-14...I shot these  back yard echium to show the progress they have made.  No blossoms in 2014 means they will blossom in 2015 (if they make it through the winter without frost damage.

12-29-14…I shot these backyard echium to show the progress they have made. No blossoms in 2014 means they will blossom in 2015 (if they make it through the winter without frost damage.)

March 9, 2015...Is this the year the echium will bloom?  I sure hope so.  It's putting on a spurt of growth.

March 9, 2015…Is this the year the echium will bloom? I sure hope so. It’s putting on a spurt of growth.

February 23, 2014...five echium still hanging on, barely.

February 23, 2014…five echium still hanging on, barely.

February 23, 2014...This poor echium plant suffered in the cold temps, but it's still showing signs of life.

February 23, 2014…This poor echium plant suffered in the cold temps, but it’s still showing signs of life.  Footnote…it didn’t make it.

June 16, 2014...Three echiums made it through the winter, but it looks like they are not going to bloom this year.  Sometimes it's the second year and sometimes it's the third year.  It looks like I'm going to have to wait a year.

June 16, 2014…Three echiums made it through the winter, but it looks like they are not going to bloom this year. Sometimes it’s the second year and sometimes it’s the third year. I guess I’m going to have to wait a year.  😦

12-29-14...There are still 3 echium plants going into winter, although one looks a little sick.  I wanted to shoot a photo before I covered them up with tarps prior to the big freeze this week.

12-29-14…There are still 3 echium plants going into winter, although one looks a little sick. I wanted to shoot a photo before I covered them up with tarps prior to the big freeze this week.

March 9...This echium also has been adding height.  I notice it most when I try to pull the tarp over the top to protect it from frost.

March 9…This echium has also been adding height.  I started noticing it when I tried to pull the tarp over the top to protect it from frost.  We haven’t seen any bud starts yet.

March 19...I just noticed the tallest echium (in the picture above) is starting to send out blossoms.  Hooray!

March 19…I just noticed the tallest echium (in the picture above) is starting to send out bud starts. Hooray!

July 14, 2015...In the spring, we enlarged this bed and planted some bee-loving plants along with the echium.

July 14, 2015…In the spring, we enlarged this bed and planted some bee-loving plants along with the Towers of Jewels echium plants shown in the background.

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