Friday, July 12, 2013

Of Birds and Bees

I have had so much fun this week watching the baby barn swallows.

They have grown so big that they no longer all fit in the nest.

Mama and Papa Swallow spend their entire day flying in and out
bringing food to their hungry brood.

I seriously don't know how they keep up the pace!
All. Day. Long.

Back and forth they fly...
outside to catch flying insects and then back into the barn to give their catch 
to little Manny, Moe, Jack....

 and Gertrude...

With both parents working simultaneously, how do they remember who's turn it is for the food?
Do the babies take turns, or is it each bird for himself?
So many questions.....

Meanwhile at the house we are all enjoying the antics of the hummingbirds.

These little helicopter birds are very territorial,
spending most of the day trying to keep everyone else away from the food.

We keep our feeders filled with 1:4 part sugar:water mixture.
(Store-bought hummingbird nectar has red dye additives that are not necessary or healthy.)

For the past two summers we have only had one active beehive.
This hive is quite productive this summer
and should give us a good honey harvest.

The outside of the beehive is a great indicator of the temperature.
The warmer it gets, the more bees cling to the outside of the hive.

There is always a flurry of activity at the hive,
with bees laden with pollen and nectar arriving, 
as other bees take off in search of the same.
Several bees will be doing an intricate dance designed to direct their sisters to nectar sources.

Did you know that it is just the female bees who make honey?
The bulk of the bees in the hive are female, as they do every bit of necessary work.
The males have only one purpose...
to mate with the queen.
(And this mating is done once in a queen's lifetime...
during her one and only flight away from the hive!)
Then back to the hive she goes and spends the rest of her life laying eggs.
Bees are quite fascinating...
with a highly complex social order.


jaz@octoberfarm said...

i always wondered, is it important where the hives are placed? i have lots of bees around my place and i have no idea where they come from.

daisy said...

Lots of activity going on there. Love the bee photos!

Ann said...

I see you use all medium supers for your hives. How many do you use for the brood boxes? Thanks!

Also, are you planning on getting more bees for those empty hives?

Jackie Hall said...

I love the barn swallows. I could have watched them for hours while I was there. You capture the most amazing pictures of your critters! I love your blog, I look for new stories every day!

vlb5757 said...

Well I learned all kinds of things today! #1 I need to get rid of the nectar I have been using for the hummingbird that are NOT coming to our yard. We went to the nursery this year and bought five different kinds of plants that attract hummingbirds but nothing. I am not giving up! I have seen a bumble bee on my Lavender that had a nice ball of pollen on his underside. Had always heard about it but had never seen it until this summer. So wonderful.

Karen said...

Our barn swallows just flew the nest, but are still returning at night to hang out under the same eaves. Amazing how fast they develop!

The bees are fascinating and necessary. I got stung by one the other day, and just reading your post, I've got

missy said...

The barn swallows look almost ready to leave the nest..Named them too did you !!
Great Hummer pics...
Glad you'll have some honey again..Sorry that your other hives aren't being productive...?Any chance?

Beverly Frankeny said...

We lost our other hives over the past couple of years to Colony Collapse Disorder. We know this because there were no dead bees inside the hive...they were just gone. If they had starved or frozen or died of disease, there would have been tons of dead bees.

Next year is our year to ramp up the bees. We will be ordering packages of bees to fill the other 4 hives. And then if all goes well, the year after that we plan to fill the 5 hives in our other bee yard.

So, eventually we hope to have 10 productive hives.

Now if the US would just get it's stuff together and follow the EU.....maybe just maybe they would have enough sense to ban the pesticide that scientists are reasonably sure is contributing to CCD!!

missy said...

It (the US) may get itself together but it will probably be a day late and a dollar short..

Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that hungry baby birds have really red throats, and that as food is stuffed down a red throat, it gets pinker and pinker. So the parents just have to feed the reddest throat in the nest and everyone will get their fair share.


Lynne said...

Great photos . . . Loved the Hummingbird pictures . . . I do the 4-1 mix too. And my Hummers love it!

Karen L. Bates said...

I love all the production going on at your farm. Cute little sparrows and I learned something about bees today....thanks.

Connie said...

Hi! I am excited to find your lovely blog. That building on your farm with the spring house in the basement sounds so enchanting. Do you pump your drinking water from that spring? Your stepmother left a comment on my blog telling be about your site and sending me a link. I've always had dreams of being a farm girl, but I guess it was not meant to be, but I can still dream.
Let me take a moment and invite you over to my blog. At the moment I am having a $25 Amazon gift card give-a-way to build my list of followers. Come visit and if you like it, just leave a comment and follower and your name will go in the hat.
Your newest follwer, Connie :)


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