Saturday, June 2, 2012

Bees in the Garden

     It is a beautiful day in the garden and our bees are enjoying the raspberries.  We are fortunate to have over a hundred different plants in bloom in our four acre community garden at this time of year but the foraging preference is raspberries.  The fruit trees which were the main source of food for the bees from April to May are finished blooming now and the four different varieties of raspberries will be the main focus of our girls for about a month.

     Looking at the rows of raspberries you can literally see and hear hundreds if not thousands of bees actively foraging.  This year I have focused on identifying native bees and improving my photographic skills. I have been amazed at the number and variety of native bees I have seen foraging along side the honey bees.  Below is a Hunt's bumble bee and a variety (possibly not a bee) I have not identified.

     Possibly a Resin Bee (Anthidiellum Notatum Robertsoni )

    I know that all parents are biassed but I truly believe that my girls are the prettiest honey bees in the world.  The close up photo below of Rosita enjoying a chive flower reveals the pollen collecting hair that covers the body (including the eyes).

     Below are a few photos of the girls enjoying a Johnson's Blue hardy geranium.  Due to the promiscuous nature of queen bees the true heritage of the girls is unknown however all of our queens are (I think) Carniolan.  The Carniolan honey bee is native to Slovenia and parts of the former Yugoslavia, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania and is known for it's large proboscis (tongue).  This Gene Simmons like tongue gives the bee greater ability to access the inner flower.

      The photo below has nothing to do with bees but is a picture of my favourite rose which has a heavenly scent.  It does however allow me to ponder at the lack of bees in hybrid roses.  The obvious reason for this is the complex physical nature of the petal formation.  Below this picture is a photo of one of the girls enjoying a wild rose (simple flower) which is a favourite of the girls in the garden right now.


     Both the native and honey bees were enjoying the rhododendron and clematis flowers today.

     We inspected our hives today and found lots of brood and stored nectar and pollen but also plenty of room in the two brood boxes.  We will check on the girls in another few weeks with the intent of adding our honey supers.  It was a two stinger day as Serge got it in the leg and me in the hand when I removed my gloves after the inspection.  Not bad.


  1. Rose-Marie LarssonJune 2, 2012 at 6:57 PM

    Love the photos of the bees. Such life affirming images: these small furry creatures wholeheartedly at work - if you can call it that, as they seem to revel in the scents and tastes of the pollen and the nectar, as they collect it, and in the touch of the flowers. Love the bees!

    Could the queens be described as "joyfully fertile" instead of promiscuos, which conjures up the image of a seedy bar?

  2. Well put Rose-Marie. I never tire of watching bees at work and play. It is, I am sure, going to remain a life long passion of mine and I agree "joyfully fertile" is a much better description.

  3. Great photos, Danielle! The geranium pics are awesome! Glad to see your ladies are keeping busy!

  4. Thanks Mark and good to hear about your new queen. Long live the queen.

  5. hello from Aotearoa (NZ) - i have just discovered your lovely blog ! I am enjoying reading your posts and admiring your gorgeous photos. It is the beginning of winter here so my bees are mostly tucked up in bed. Where I live we don`t get really cold days so sometimes see afew brave bees out foraging.
    ka kite

  6. Hi Marcia, Glad you are enjoying the site. I imagine our weather is very similar (only reversed). I have found that my bees will fly on winter days at 6-7 degrees celsius if it's not rainy or windy. Stay tuned and enjoy the summer with us.
    Funny thing, Vancouver does not have well developed local bee breeding. Local nucs and queen bees are available starting in June and in order to have a healthy hive ready for winter we need to start our hive no later than July. Because of this short window of opportunity and import restrictions from most countries (i.e. United States) many beekeepers in Vancouver will buy their early spring bees from Aotearoa (Arataki and Kintale) where it is summer. A large percentage of Vancouver honey bees can trace their heritage to Aotearoa (New Zealand). Maybe you recognize some of the bees in the photos (local Aotearoa girls). Ka kite ano.


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