a french garden


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The Jewel of Nineveh

The Jewel of Nineveh

This is not the first time I have recommended a book but it is the first time I have recommended a book that is not about bees.

Intrigued?  Well, I hope you will be intrigued by the plot!  However, I must come clean and admit that it an unashamed pitch for my son’s first novel.

I did not read it before it was published as it was “not my type of book” and I did not want to be discouraging.  However, the story woke up the little girl in me who had loved the Rider Haggard adventures and shown me how I could still get lost in another time and another place.

The-Thief-Freebie-hires

 

If you are still not convinced you can read the prologue for free as it has been published as a free e-book short story “The Thief”.  There are multiple versions available for any device depending whether you use Kindle Reader (MOBI), Kobo or Nook (EPUB).

But to get the full flavour of the adventures get The Jewel of Nineveh from Amazon.

You can find all the links at his author’s web page http:/diavoshbassiti.com

 

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The bees in winter

Hives 12 December

This is a picture of the bee hives on the twelve of December.  They are enjoying the sun but the air temperature is only ten degrees Centigrade.  We have our nets at the ready because we have still been catching a few hornets this week.  Later in the day the air temperature rose to fifteen degrees.

Back to the hive

We had noticed that all the hives have been active this week, especially Sunflower our youngest who brings in a lot of pollen.  I decided to try and find out where the pollen was coming from.  Apart from this rich orange pollen she is bringing in an almost white pollen, a yellow pollen and a tiny bit of light green pollen.

IMG_2887

I must admit I had a good idea of where to look for the orange pollen.

Gorse spines

Gorse is a good winter provider of pollen for the bees.  But look at those spines!  Not a plant for the garden but a good plant to have in wild areas for the bees.

Clouded Yellow

I saw several Clouded Yellow butterflies (Colias crocea, I think) warming themselves in the sunshine not far from the gorse.  It seemed strange to be walking in the sunshine in December and seeing butterflies on the wing.  However, night time temperatures are going down to only two or three degrees Centigrade so they will have to find somewhere to shelter when there is no sunshine.

Honeybee on thyme

I do have my doubts whether all the individual bees are equally industrious.  This bee attracted my attention as she was sitting on the thyme on the other side of the rockery just out of sight of the hives.  You will note she is not sitting on a flower.  The thyme has flowers, which she could hardly miss, but she chose to sunbathe on the tip of the stem to soak up the sun’s rays. Perhaps she is an autumn bee – programmed to take a more zen approach to life and to enjoy life until next spring.

Bee on Rape

There is a lot of Rape (Brassica napus) flowering at the moment.  These are the self seeded plants that have grown when the Rape was harvested earlier in the year.  Stretches of the flowers can be seen along the lines of bare vines where the seeds must have been trapped by the wind.

Rapeseed pollen on bee

Today I noticed a bee collecting pollen on the Rape flowers, so this is a possible source of the yellow pollen the bees are bringing home.

honeybee on winter honeysuckle

However, my Winter Honeysuckle is only metres away from the hives and is proving very popular with the bees.

10.5 degrees

The air temperature was only just over ten degrees when this lady joined the bumble bees to take her share of the nectar on offer.

Honeysuckle pollen

Later on some of the bees started collecting pollen which is a rich sugary yellow colour.

Garden bumble bee

The Honeysuckle flowers are also appreciated by the bumble bees that are active on the warm days too.

Large bumble in winter

If you compare the size of the Honeysuckle flowers and the queen bumble bee it will give you an idea of how big she is – much bigger than a honey bee.  I think she is a Garden bumble bee, a bombus hortorum, as she has a long face – but I find bumble bees difficult to identify so I am not sure.

Honey bee on Erica

I have been pleased to see the bees visiting my Erica darleyensis but I have not seen them taking any pollen.  So I have not solved the mystery of the source of the white pollen yet.

Bee on Lambs' ears

But with the bees there are more mysteries than answers.  This bee was sourcing something tasty from my Stachys (Lambs’ Ears) leaves!

Scabious in flower in December

So I have managed to work out that the majority of the pollen is coming from the gorse at the moment with smaller additions of yellow from the Winter Honeysuckle and Rape.  I did not get any photographs of bees on flowers gathering white pollen but there is plenty of Scabious flowering at the moment so that is my best guess as to where that white pollen came from.

I just hope that the bees are not as unsettled as some of the plants in the garden at the moment.  The fruit trees are starting to bud and we have seen our first apricot flower.


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Distractions

Cerinthe

There is a lot of dew in the garden at this time of year.  The grass is wet and Wellington boots are a necessity.  But trudging down the garden early in the morning I noticed what lovely patterns the dew left on the flowers.

Phacelia

The Phacelia was well sprinkled…

Winter Honeysuckle

as was the Winter Honeysuckle.  So I felt the urge to sprint, as fast as my Wellies would allow, back to the house to get my camera.

Full rose 2

In the front garden the fully open rose was in competition …

Rose bud

with the rose bud to produce the most delicate drop patterns.

House

Then I spotted and extra big drop on a Persimmon left hanging as a winter treat for the birds.  I managed to get an upside down image of the house!

But all this had started with good intentions, my weeding tool and Welly boots.  It is too easy for me to get distracted in the garden.

Bemused robin

As the Robin followed me back and forth through the garden, he seemed to be trying to work out what I was up to.  It was as if the rolls had been reversed and I was being watched for the entertainment value I was providing.

Only fair really, after all the hours of pleasure I get watching the wildlife in the garden.