Blossom time

Back garden

Most of the trees have opened their leaves.  The lime trees and walnut are trailing behind.

New mulberry bud

After my discovery of my hazelnut flowers, I have decided to catch my mulberry flowers.  The bud is about to open!

Mulberry bud bursting

What a disappointment!  It’s not what I would call a flower but it is all the mulberry can offer.  No wonder I have missed them up until now.

Unripe fruit

These insignificant flowers turn slowly into edible red berries.  Please don’t ask me what variety this is as I have grown it from seed and kept it as a bonsai for more than twenty years now.  There are many varieties of mulberry and many varieties provide delicious berries.

Quince tree

I think my favourite blossom tree is the quince tree with its large delicate pink flowers.

Quince and bee

It is a popular flower for all the bees and I was glad to see this Andrena visiting the flowers as I have seen no honey bees near it this year.

Flowers Belle de Boskoop

The apple tree Belle de Boskoop is my second favourite with its deep rose pink buds and the lighter full flowers.

Pear

The pear trees are usually full of bees but once again this year there are few honey bees around and I was glad to see this Andrena visiting it and I have seen my Osmia cornuta in it too.

Victoria plum (1)

The Victoria plum tree is not attracting as many pollinators either.

Cherry

The cherry trees are full of blossom but I have seen no bees in them this year.  The bee keepers in the area have had huge losses over this winter.  The winter was not unduly cold or wet but many of the hives in the spring still had honey but no bees.  I can notice the difference in the garden.  I even feel I am seeing less solitary bees but I do not know if this is just as a result of my concern for the fate of the local honey bees.

Carpenter in wisteria

This is also the time of year for the Wisteria blossom and I cannot leave out the Carpenter bees (Xylocopa violacea).  The perfume of the Wisteria pervades the garden.

Bumble in Wisteria

The perfume gives an extra pleasure to photographing the bees.

Back of bumbleI always see this queen carder bee at this time of year but I have given up trying to identify bumble bees.

Old hotel (1)

One of the bee hotels is situated beside a Wisteria, so it is very pleasant watching the activity.

New hotel

The new bee hotel has been very well accepted.  The seven holes in the penthouse have all been taken, seventeen in all have been filled up to now.  The drilled holes and the bamboo are both being used but none of the bamboo canes lined with paper have been accepted.

Osmia cornuta on hand

The lives of the female Osmia cornuta is one of non-stop action in an effort to lay her eggs in cells well stocked with pollen, so I was surprised when I saw this one sitting on top of the bee hotel and even more surprised when she came onto my hand.

Worn Osmia cornuta

Then I noticed that the hairs on her back were worn away.  they bring in the pollen and turn and twist in the holes packing in the pollen and then sealing the cell with mud.  All the twisting and rubbing had rubbed away the hairs and she looked very tired.  I held her up to the hotel and she disappeared into a hole.  Soon there will be less activity from bees and I will be left with the filled holes to care for until next spring.

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34 thoughts on “Blossom time

  1. We have had the mother lode of Mason bees hatching and then filling up the cedar drilled hotels and the fancy store bought hotel variety. So many bees that we had to drill a few more wood blocks in a hurry. 2 blocks have been carefully located to areas where there are fruit trees because we could no longer sit on our porch! I hope we have not disturbed them. Hopefully they will do their job next spring. All the holes were full. And they seem to be very resilient.

    Not like the PNW bees that got dumped on the highway this week. Very sad.

    http://www.bing.com/news/search?q=Seattle+Bee+Spill&qpvt=saettle+bee+spill&FORM=EWRE

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  2. Honey bees seem in particularly good numbers here. Others maybe a bit low, it’s hard to tell because of the oscillating weather (a few hot days, a few drizzly days). I think in general a normal spring here.

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  3. We have had plenty of honey bees and bumble bees, as well as lots of others. In fact I counted seven different types one day last week…. of course, when I went out with the camera later they had all vanished!

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    • There are only anecdotal accounts in the local press but I know of at least one organisation that is taking samples and looking into the problems that have arrived with the bees here this spring. I don’t think proper reports will be able to be produced until the statistics have been correctly gathered and analysed. Also I do not know if this has affected only this area of France. Amelia

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    • The juice also stains! I hope they did not get it all over their clothes. Here in France they are very popular shade trees and they sell sterile ones with no fruit so you don’t get splatted if you sit underneath it. I’d rather use another tree for shade and have the mulberries. Amelia

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  4. Hello Amelia,
    Lovely photos, and impressive of you to raise the mulberry tree from seed, though I agree the flowers are a little strange. Your Wisteria has stunning colours – very envious, we’ve given up trying to grow one here.
    Always scary to hear of significant bee losses, when on such a scale. It doesn’t seem to have been a harsh winter with you, so I wonder if its the dreaded multifactorial colony collapse? I guess all the blossom will last a lot longer without the usual number of pollinators around,
    Best wishes
    Julian

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  5. All hotel space here rapidly filling up….
    the tiny holes filled first this year!!
    I’ll need to drill more…

    And I saw a mason recycling last years mud….
    it had gone in with a heavily pollen loaded undercart…
    came out and reversed in….
    as per normal… then came back to the front and began to gnaw away at the ring of mud left on the seal…
    it then turned round again and went back inside…
    did this about three times before it flew off again…
    I wish now I’d thought to have photographed it.
    But, I suppose it makes sense… it widened the entrance and helped seal up one of the brood cells without expending energy on flight…

    I love the last two pix…
    you truly are the Bee Keeper!

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    • I’ve noticed the opened holes being widened during the nesting but never actually saw them re-using the old mortar although I suspected they might, very interesting. I have not seen any preference between the hollow bamboo sticks and the drilled holes but still none with the paper have been filled. My Andrena cinerarea and A. agillisima have both appeared from their nests in the garden soil. Amelia

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  6. What a lovely selection of blossom. Quince is so beautiful. Mine is not out yet. You are well ahead of us.I hope you are enjoying the wonderful weather that we are enjoying here.

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    • The Wisteria is filling the garden with perfume at the moment as we are having a warm, sunny spell. The two runners that I twisted into a tree a couple of years ago is looking very good this year and full of flowers. Unfortunately, the one that was better shaped and made of three twisted runners died – of unknown causes (too little water?). Amelia

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  7. We have a fair few bees around at the moment but none in my bee hotel yet. Still, I’m ever hopeful as many of the flowers in the garden are yet to come. My apple is way behind yours although my quince (Orange flowers) has been flowering since late February.

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    • I think your quince sounds like a flowering quince. I put in a quince tree with edible quinces as they are not always readily available in shops and they are so good for stewing, pies and chutney. I also make mine in a lamb sauce served with rice. I hope you get some bees in your bee hotel. There are a lot of different species that might use it. Some come in the spring and other come in the summer right through till the fall. Amelia

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