Sunday, July 6, 2014

Bees and flowers plus:Skunk-3 Dog-0 Me-two!


I'm getting fast on the focusing,. These flowers don't have much nectar of pollen so the bees move fast. 
Zoom in & see her tongue in the tiny flower! I think it is Redshank or ladies thumb. Persicaria maculosa.
This would have been a perfect shot if that blue flower hadn't been in the way. :-)

Enlarge, look closely, and you can see a 1mm hitchhiker that hopped onto her. I think it's a thrip.
Here's an enlargement:

I love the colors in this one.

Skunks vs Daisy: Skunk-3  Dog-0   Me-two! 
The second one let out a squirt on the inside of the blanket I covered the trap with, but I escaped un-odored.
No doubt there are several more. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Some of my work made the front page on the Kennedy Space Center's website!

Some years ago I was asked to etch a portrait of each of the Gemini astronauts on both a curved beveled piece of glass that was awarded to each of them, as well as on heavy 1/2" glass disks that were installed at the exhibit featuring each astronaut at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®   This was a break from the usual church work. I was invited to attend their induction and meet them. The fact that they each went home with something I made is kind of cool.

Friday, June 27, 2014

De-Skunking Your Dog

No! You can't go back out.

I wish she'd stick to vole hunting. She's better at it.

It was only a matter of time.  The following formula helped immensely.  I used a drop of canola oil in each eye before washing her, as she must have gotten a nose full first before heading the other way.
Now I guess I should set up the live trap near the hives. I doubt there is just one, so I think I'd better keep it set for the summer.
Even with a liberal spraying of fabreeze, there is still more than a trace in the air. Perhaps our noses will become desensitized in a couple of hours.

Skunks are everywhere—in the country and in the city. If your dog gets sprayed, there are ways you can rid him of the scent without using your entire ketchup (or tomato juice) supply to do it.
Over-the-counter products such as Nature's Miracle Skunk Odor Remover, which is available at most specialty pet retailers, are a quick fix, but if you don't have that on hand, try the following:

Step 1: Keep Fido (In this case Daisy) outside (oops! should have read this first)


While you prepare the de-skunking solution, keep your dog outside after he's sprayed so he doesn't carry the smell into your house. Check his eyes; if they're irritated or red, immediately flush them with cool water.

Step 2: Mix the Ingredients

Mix together:
  • 1 quart of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide (available at your local pharmacy)
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap
Wearing rubber gloves, wash your dog with this solution immediately after he's been sprayed. DO NOT get the solution in the dog's eyes. (If you don't have peroxide, baking soda, and liquid soap on hand, use vinegar diluted with water.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The birds & the bees

Just a few photos I took yesterday and today.
There were a pair of scarlet tanagers that were pretty upset. A baby had fallen out of the nest.. It is hanging out under a lilac bush. I hope it makes it.  I got dive bombed by the mother The nest is probably 40 or 50 feet up in the oak somewhere.
Best viewed full size. Click to enlarge.






The male stayed way up in the tree. I used a 400mm lens.

I'm always amazed by the variation in colors of these honey bees. My hives are filled with mutts.
The focus isn't great & I washed out the tiny flowers on some of the shots, but the bees never stayed more than a couple of seconds on each one & then moved to another. That didn't leave me much time.


 I didn't realize that flying bee was even in the frame, until I loaded it onto the computer.


These ladies are really pretty.

I wonder how many of these little flowers it took to collect that much pollen. 



Monday, June 23, 2014

deer, elk, and fences

In an interesting article from the AP, we learn that :

"Deer still balk at crossing the border with Germany even though the physical fence came down a quarter century ago, new studies show.
Czechoslovakia, where the communists took power in 1948, had three parallel electrified fences, patrolled by heavily armed guards. Nearly 500 people were killed when they attempted to escape communism.
Deer were also victims of the barrier. A seven-year study in the Czech Republic's Sumava National Park showed that the original Iron Curtain line still deters one species, red deer, from crossing.
"It was fascinating to realize for the first time that anything like that is possible," said Pavel Sustr, a biologist who led the Czech project. Scientists conducting research on German territory reached similar conclusions.
The average life expectancy for deer is 15 years and none living now would have encountered the barrier.
"But the border still plays a role for them and separates the two populations," Sustr said. He said the research showed the animals stick to traditional life patterns, returning every year to the same places.
"Fawns follow mothers for the first year of their life and learn from them where to go," Sustr said."
This is interesting to me because I have been observing the local elk herd (and deer) here in Muddy Valley for a number of years. I have maintained game cameras on our property which let me know when they are here even if we don't happen to see them.


 We are located on a major wildlife corridor and it recently was disrupted by the continuing addition and expansion of the local wine industry's vineyards.


The forest in the background...Only a matter of time. (web photo)

These come at the cost of removing all plants growing on land that traditionally was unsuited for farming and erecting deer and elk proof fences. Actually animal proof in general, as not much can get through them. This includes most all native insects and pollinators, as their habitat inside has been destroyed.
I have noticed that the elk herd stayed away for several months with the latest fences added to Eagle Point road, just North of us. (Insert photo of fence)
Needless to say, I am not a fan of the addition of more of these new tax shelters for the wealthy. Somehow they have managed to bring snob appeal to being a wino. "How is your vineyard doing" is becoming the new topic among some of the already wealthy. I say "already wealthy", because I see hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars inserted inside those game proof fences to build the lodge style tasting rooms, processing facilities, new diesel equipment, and the high maintenance vines themselves. I don't believe that many of these could possibly pay off the investment in our lifetimes. It's not like they were built up slowly over generations, these seem to pop up almost daily.
And they aren't much good for bees either.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Mexican Honey Wasp & another swarm

Have you heard of these?  Is there a new pollinator coming?
Next stop California & Florida? 


Now the owner of an orchard on Farm-to-Market Road 1015, Garza sees nests from time to time on his own trees.He's got no problem with the wasps making a home on his property. He's so used to them, and he can put his hand next to a nest without fear — he's never been stung by one."Since honeybees are gone, and I don't want Africanized bees, this is my choice," he said of leaving them on his trees even though he can't use the fruit immediately surrounding the hive.Growing up, Garza saw them all the time in the orchards next to the Texsun facility where South Texas College now is in Weslaco.

 Brachygastra mellifica, commonly known as the Mexican Honey Wasp, is a small Neotropical paper wasp that is distributed from southern Texas and extreme southeastern Arizona in the United States south through Mexico and Central America. Wikipedia

Recently, a small team of researchers from London led by Dr. Ellouise Leadbeater, a research fellow from the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, came to the Lower Rio Grande Valley and South Central Texas to study honey wasps. Leadbeater and her team were headquartered  at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Uvalde.“We were interested in studying honey wasps as they are the only wasp to produce honey on a large scale and are a distant relative of the honey bee,” she said. “We had put out the word that we wanted to do this research, and got our best response from the Uvalde center.” “Mexican honey wasps are considered beneficial insects, much like honey bees,” she said. “They are nectar gatherers, pollinators, and have been known to predate on harmful insects such as the Asian citrus psyllid, which has been identified as a vector for citrus greening disease.”                                         http://today.agrilife.org/2013/04/25/not-bees-honey-wasps/
=================================================================
We picked up another swarm Tuesday. I wish I had made all the wood ware last winter, but I had no idea we would grow from one to seven hives this spring.
they were football sized & kind of buried in the pine tree

I shook as many as I could in the box

The rest of them flew down from the tree & joined the queen in the box over the next 30  or so minutes.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A nice swarm from Canby

I got a call about 5pm today asking if I wanted a swarm. Seems it was about five feet off the ground and described as the size of a basketball. We got there about six and it had settled in with very few bees flying. It had formed about a half hour before I got the call. I pulled all but four frames out of the box to make room for them. They slid around, but I was able to hold them with my left hand as I shook the tree and got the majority of them in the box. My first swarm away from home.

 A nice size swarm! It half filled the 10 frame deep.



 Eventually they all crawled in to join the queen.