Here is why we need pollinators. We had the best ever raspberry crop this year, thanks to the flower by flower work of the new bees:
To get native pollinators you need native plants. It will be sad to lose daffodil, tulip, lily of the valley, forsythia and perhaps even lilac, in return for wild bergamot, anis hyssop, rattlesnake master, mint, grape vine anemone, bee balm, black eyed susan, milkweed, trillium and wild lupine. The work has barely started and already the garden is a jungle of wild insects.
Here is the most exotic one I hope to lure in. It is an enormous cecropia moth, in full daylight, downtown on a native locust tree. It was larger than the palm of my hand:
And here is what 150 pounds (68 kg) kg of honey from one well fed bee hive in just 4 months, looks like:
Native plants grow best in their own locale, but unfortunately native animals like to eat them too.
We saw the bee hives on the flat roof of the Royal York hotel, just hidden by the new tall buildings on Queens Quay. They are set in a great herb garden there. It is immediately to the left of the golden glowing Royal Bank seen last week at sunrise from Algonquin Island as we prepared for the Round The Island windsurf Marathon. (The brightest copper glow on the right side is from the newer Bank of Nova Scotia further up town)
Back in Perrysburg I reluctantly donated one of my few combs for taste testing against 15 other honey samples by 30 members of the local bee club, meeting at 577 Foundation.
You can’t imagine my surprise when it was awarded the very last prize of the night:
Back at the ‘farm’ I put in a one-way gate under the top honey ‘super’ (box). After 2 days it was almost empty of bees so I could take off 30 pounds of honey.
When I took off the next box to check for beetles, etc., and temporarily put it down on edge (so as not to squish them) the bees wandered out of their unfamiliar home,
but I put the board in front of the hive and they all obediently walked back in.
They really are very well behaved and don’t sting me much at all now.
Right now they are out gathering pollen from Golden Rod and Sedum in the last warmth of summer.
The bottom 2 boxes of ‘brood’ have spawned thousands of new bees in the last 4 months. The next 2 boxes up now have about 60 pounds of capped honey (my back is sore from lifting them). This was made with the help of a sugar water feeded and is the bees’ food for the winter.
Now it’s time for us. I added a “Queen Excluder” grille of bars – too narrow for the queen and just wide enough (about 5 mm) for the workers. Then on top I put the 5 th floor penthouse, complete with sheets of wax foundation. For 2 days they just sniffed at it so I removed the excluder grille. Within 3 days they’d built deep wax cells on each side of the 8 foundation frames:
The sugar water feeder has been removed. Now they only get real nectar from the mid-summer flowers: wild mint seems the most popular. I don’t see any on the Crown Vetch. And 2 days later I can already see honey glistening in some cells:
At this stage the honey has too much water so the poor little darlings must flap their wings over it to evaporate most of the water, while more workers add extra nectar. When ready they will cap it with wax and we then can harvest it. It should be the purest possible honey as I’ve used no chemicals in the garden for years, and I’m only trapping the few hive beetles in an oil bath under a 3 mm mesh. The bees chase the beetles and they fall in.
As long as the queen stays down on the first 2 floors and lays her eggs only there, all will be well. Keep hoping.