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

Pollinator bonanza

Honeybees with full pollen sacs

Honeybee in a nectarine flowerOur honeybees have been coming out to fly during warm spells all through March, and we started seeing native pollinators two weeks ago, but Sunday was the day when the whole farm began to buzz.  Both the flowers and the insects were just waiting for the week of cold, rainy weather to let up, and when the frost melted and the sun came up, the honeybees almost seemed to be prying our kitchen peach flowers open.

Bumblebee on a dead nettle flowerFruit tree blooms were a hit, but so were the numerous flowers in the "lawn."  Everyone loves dandelions and I also saw quite a bit of activity around the purple dead nettles.  (This guy is a bumblebee, although I didn't brush up on my bumblebee identification enough to figure out his full name.  Below is some sort of fly and what might be a miner bee.)

Native pollinators

Native bees on manure
Nature never acts quite the way you'd suspect, so I wasn't entirely surprised to see the largest congregation of bees...on the manure pile!  I knew that butterflies visit manure to suck up salts (and there were both butterflies and moths present), but I didn't realize that bees were equally interested.  Our honeybees turned up their noses at the composted excrement, but there were at least fifty of these small bees (miner bees again?) on the manure, along with a couple of greater bee flies and hover flies.

Pollinating flies

I'm glad to see that our pollinator population is so diverse and healthy!  Too bad some of the trees they're pollinating got ahead of themselves and bloomed all the way out before Saturday night's 27 degree freeze.  I expect moderate damage to the full-bloomed pears, barely blooming cherry, and precocious nectarine, and hardly any damage at all to the kitchen peach who valiantly held her horses until the freeze watch was past.  Great job, kitchen peach!

Our chicken waterer keeps the flock hydrated on hot spring days.

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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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