Posts Tagged ‘nectar plants’

Further Adventures in the Bee Meadow

The Bee Meadow is surrounded by flagging tape to confuse the deer and keep my over zealous neighbor's mower at bay.

Last November with the help of my friend Tim Kiphart I gleaned a medley of wildflower plants from my nursery and installed them near my bee hives.

I called the planting a “Bee Meadow”.  It was planted in part to sustain the honeybees.  I also intended to learn to appreciate and identify the native pollinators that would surely visit.

The Bee Meadow was planted on an old vegetable garden site that is full of white clover.

So far, the meadow has been quite entertaining. Earlier this spring, prairie phlox (Phlox pilosa) mingled with the clover while yellow false indigo (Baptisia sphaerocarpa) bloomed in the background.

Much to my surprise, about a dozen larkspur plants (Consolida ambigua) volunteered. They were remnants of the old vegetable garden where I often planted flowers amongst the veggies.

This volunteer larkspur was a pleasant surprise.

I have really been enjoying the larkspur blooms.

I have noticed that a few honeybees and bumblebees visit the blossoms when they tire of the clover.

Last week, however, on a late afternoon golf cart cruise, I spied a flash of red.  I soon realized that a young male ruby throated hummingbird was visiting the larkspur.

I have seen him two or three times now.

Of course I didn’t have my camera.

But still he was beautiful in all his olive and ruby plumage sipping nectar from a deep indigo larkspur flower.

A couple of weeks ago, I pilfered the nursery once more and with the help of my friend Steve Strong added more plants to the Bee Meadow.  The new additions include New Jersey tea (Ceanothus americanus), butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), rough blazing star (Liatris aspera) and various asters, rosin weeds, obedient plants, ironweeds and grasses.

I’m seeing all sorts of butterflies and interesting solitary bees as well as the usual bumblebees and honeybees.

Now that the planting is done I hope to start identifying these strange visitors.



Adventures With Bees

Here are my two new beehives sitting next to an ignored clover field.

So I decided to get a couple of bee hives.

Spring is a busy time for me so I didn’t get things in place until the last minute.  I finally decided exactly where the bees were going to go last Wednesday.  I sited them next to our old vegetable garden because it is grown up in white clover.

On Thursday after working at my consulting job all day, I rushed home and rubbed a blister on my hand trying to get the supporting concrete blocks and 4″X4″s level.  Then around dusk I headed off to Philadelphia (Mississippi not Pennsylvania) to pick up my bees.

I brought the bees home in the trunk of my car.  The brood chamber with its top and bottom were duct taped together and the back seat was folded down with access to the trunk.

Tulip poplar flowers occur so high in the canopy that I rarely see them until they fall to Earth.

The only scary moment was when the slow driving car in front of me suddenly slammed on brakes and, of course, I had to do the same.

I expected bees to come pouring out of the trunk at any minute.  But all was well, and it was a good thing that Grandpa and I did not hit any of the five deer.

On Friday morning, I un-taped the entrance, etc. early and then studied the foraging bees during the day.

Late in the evening, I finally decided to believe my eyes and I admitted that the bees were not working the clover patch at all.  So what was their destination when they left the hive?  I looked up at the sky and realized the the tulip poplar overhead was loaded with flowers!

Here are three of our big tulip poplars along the creek near the bee hives.

I did a bit of research last night and learned that each flower on a tulip poplar can produce a teaspoon of nectar.  We estimate that along the creek and drainage area on our land, we have at least 10 tulip poplars that are 80 feet tall or larger.  I can’t even imagine how many flowers are on those 10 trees.  Not to mention all the young 40 footers!

Tulip poplars are not considered to be the best wildlife trees but they do have some benefits.  They host the Easter Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillar and also that  of the tuliptree silk moth.   Nectar feeding birds (like ruby throated hummingbirds) sip from tulip poplar flowers.  Squirrels and some songbirds feast on the seeds during winter.  I’m sure their abundant nectar attracts native pollinators as well as my exotic honeybees.

I am happy that these stately magnolia cousins grace my land.  Now I have one more reason to love them!


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