DSC_4225 [1600x1060]We often see wasps at the nectar feeders but this is the first time I’ve seen this many honeybees at one.  First time I’ve seen this many honeybees in a long time, actually.  I wonder if they are a new swarm looking for a nest site and stopping by the feeder on their way.DSC_4204 [1600x1060]I think they just call an assembly of turkeys a flock, but a swarm would work.  Or a congress.  That one may already be taken.IMG_2973 (1600x1200)Here’s the male of a brother and sister pair of terrier mix puppies.  IMG_2958 (1600x1200)And the sister.  Mrs J said the previous owner took ill and was put into a nursing home by his kids.  They turned the dogs loose.  They were picked up by a neighbor and kept until the shelter had an opening.  They are leash trained and housebroken, their meds are up to date, and they will be spayed and neutered.IMG_2983 (1600x1200)Here’s a kitteh, one of those that were part of the colony that came down with a respiratory illness.  A visit to the St Francis Facebook page will yield more info on the dogs and cats. IMG_2939 (1600x1200)And a quick update on the ongoing Katie integration project.  Here she is with Bea kitteh and Annie, the Brittany Princess.  She loves her some Mrs J but would prefer to not be in the same room with me, unless I have a treat in hand.  She is coming into the kitchen to eat with the other dogs but she is still quick to run away if anything isn’t quite right.  She is eager for her walks, still always on a leash.  I have no idea whether or when Mrs J will let her out without it.  She will make that call.DSC_6914 [1600x1060]Mmm… biscuits and sausage gravy.  These biscuits are another success for this recipe.  I fold the dough over on itself several times while kneading it, makes for a nice flaky, layered biscuit.20130918_164650 [1600x1060]Jack doesn’t get much exposure so here he is with an expression I will make no attempt to characterize.

Say hello to my little friend.

DSC_3865 [1600x1200]I walked by the bee balm this afternoon and watched all the bees working it and noticed this fellow among them.  He blends in rather well.DSC_3872 [1600x1200]We planted Vitex a couple of years ago and it’s thriving.  We’ll have to keep it pruned back or it will get too big but so far it’s looking good:DSC_3879 [1600x1200]The bees like it, and the hummingbird moths do, too.  We have it in another spot and I thought it was a Butterfly Bush for a long time before Mrs J said it wasn’t that.  Once we knew what it was we were able to find a nursery to sell us one, at Amazon of all places.

Some Flowers

DSC_3726 [1600x1200]We have some azaleas and a purple rhodie growing on the north side of the house.  The rhodie is at it’s peak.  The azaleas are just a tad past that.  There was a bee buzzing around that I tried to capture but didn’t get any good pictures.DSC_3728 [1600x1200]I’m not sure how long ago we planted the rhodie but it’s been in there the longest.  There are three varieties of azalea.  I’ll never be a good garden blogger because I don’t know the variety names of any of these.  Anyone who has read a few of my recipes will not be particularly surprised at my lack of rigor.DSC_3731 [1600x1200]A pretty flower makes any picture look good.

Ambrosia Honey

One of the first things a naturopathic practitioner recommends if you have pollen allergies is add local honey to your diet.  The idea being that it introduces allergens over time and your body develops antibodies.  My pollen allergies are mild, which I find fortunate, but I still buy local honey and whether it helps or not, it’s good stuff.  Buying it locally is kind of fun, especially during farmer’s market season, when I can meet a lot of the local beekeepers.  And year round I can stop near by at a historical farm/museum that sells honey made by their many bees.  And usually get a good look at one of the bee boxes – they love showing off their bees.

Honey flavor varies from colony to colony and it seems to depend on where and in what the bees play.  Today I was at a local store that sells bulk honey and I decided to pick some up.  The flavor that looked really good was the Ambrosia Honey from Madhava.  It has been a while since I’d purchased it and I had forgotten how good it was.  Or maybe this harvest was especially sweet. They say it’s wild flower honey and I have to believe it, because most honeys I’ve had are clover and none are as sweet or mild.  I practically licked the bulk container clean after I transferred it to my “honey jar”.

Madhava is a local beekeeping farm that is the champagne of honeys locally.  They’ve been around for decades.  I met the owner and founder once and he regaled me with stories and the history of the business.  It sounds like it was basically a commune in the 70’s and has since turned into a profitable, nationally known company.  It still has that ‘hippie’ feel to the place in the front, but it’s all business in the back.  Fun to visit.

So I guess this is my pitch to remember to buy locally when you can.  I love not only supporting my local beekeepers, but meeting them, too.

Some Flora and Fauna

The snow melt is finally being felt down here.  The river is running high and making cycling challenging.  Most of the underpass paths are flooded which means detouring across busy streets or raised rail tracks.  Oh, well, makes the ride more of a workout – cycling, hiking and even carrying the bike at times.

Here are a few photos from my latest ride:

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I’ve been waiting and waiting for the milkweed to open.  Today it showed its first signs of blossom.  By tomorrow it will probably be in full bloom.  They always attract the big butterflies.  Love the big bees.  And that is a native thistle, highly prized here, where non-native species have been invading in recent years.  The native thistle attracts bees, butterflies and adds diversity to the prairie fields.

Bug Hunt!

Wasps and bee looking things are swarming the flowers out front.  It’s too hot to chase bugs very far but there seems to be a good selection on the rooster tails this evening.  No clue what the names are for these things.  A few look like bumble bees of a sort but I see several species of these so what I call a bumble bee is most certainly just one of any number of like insects.

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