The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Different trees for different bees

Blooming topworked pear

All of the websites say you have nothing to lose by topworking your fruit trees, but that's not quite true.  You do lose something very important --- time.

Our young pear trees bloomed enough to produce a couple of fruits last year, and judging by the limbs I left behind this spring, the trees would have been loaded this fall if I hadn't lopped off the tops.  But I figure, better delicious pears in two years than pears I consider insipid now.

Long-horned beetle

Of course, I got sucked into photographing pollinators while I was out looking at the fruit trees, and I was interested to see that the peaches and pears have very different insects buzzing around their flowers.  The pear trees had attacted a few small bees and a wasp, but the most common pollinator was the soldier beetles (or maybe long-horned beetles or both?) shown below and to the left.

Soldier beetle on pear flower

Blooming fruit treesIn stark contrast, I spent two minutes walking around our biggest peach tree and saw honeybees, bumblebees, wasps, butterflies, several types of smaller wild bees, a greater bee fly...but no beetles.  I wonder if the pollinator preference is due to the type of tree, or is just a byproduct of the bigger mass of peach flowers drawing in more aerial pollinators.  (That's an elm tree blooming in the far background, by the way.)

Fruit tree ecosytem

Three more gratuitous spring photos, counterclockwise from top --- a hungry spider, the most common bee out yesterday, and coming attractions (apple buds).

Our chicken waterer keeps the coop bedding dry and your chickens hydrated with clean water.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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