Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ABC Wednesday: B's are Buzzing

What better subject for this week's ABC Wednesday's letter B than Bees!

I have taken dozens of photographs of the bumblebees on my purple coneflowers, so here's one feasting on Queen Anne's Lace for a little variety.

Although scientists are concerned about the declining number of honeybees throughout the Western World, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of them at my home. Honeybees enjoy the clover in the grass until Mr. Lawnmower Man mows it down again each week.

Other than bumblebees and honeybees, I'm not very knowledgeable about identifying the different bee species. But I think this might just be a hoverfly (click to enlarge). My friends Cheryl and Gail are sure to know if this shiny body that happened to show up when I downloaded this photo of a daylily is actually a hoverfly.

There is a constant hum of activity in my garden, and I've learned to appreciate the work of all these pollinators. I don't spray my garden with chemicals, and in return they help to pollinate the plants.

They've certainly been a benefit to the vegetable garden this year . . . together with the regular rainfall we have had, I've had a prolific bounty of green Beans. The photo above shows what happens when you forget to check the beans for two days--many of these were 8-9 inches long! A little too big for my taste, but we'll eat them nevertheless.

B is also for Bugs. I don't know what these are in the hollyhock blossom--they almost look like lightning bugs/fireflies. While certain insects are beneficial in the garden, there are a host of them that can be very destructive. One of the worst has to be . . .

. . . the Japanese Beetle. While their numbers seem to be fewer this year than in the past, they seem to be expanding their palate. Once content with devouring roses and hollyhocks, this year I have found them on so many plants from my purple coneflowers to the green beans. I caught them on this quince shrub one morning, sleeping off yet another day of drunken feasting and revelry. Good thing the quince is pretty indestructible.

I wish I could replace all those nasty beetles with Butterflies. Along with many other bloggers in the Midwest, I have been lamenting the lack of butterflies this summer. The cabbage white above and the yellow sulphur have been around for a few weeks. But the more colorful varieties that usually visit each summer have been scarce--I've seen a few flit through the trees and over the yard, but they never seem to land and stay for a visit.

I spotted this Monarch last week while visiting the Prairie area at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana, Illinois. I hope this is a sign that the butterflies are off schedule this year and will soon be visiting here at my own little Prairie Garden.

ABC Wednesday is hosted by Mrs. Nesbitt; I'm a little early for Wednesday, but by tomorrow you will find a host of other ABC posts here.


  1. Another clever posting with the ABC's. I haven't had as many Japanese Beetles this year either. (and very happy about that).

  2. Not only are your posts beautifully illustrated, but they are very cleverly though out and interesting!
    We seem to have a serious shortage of bumble bees...... any bees come to that. There is a horrible mite killing them. very worrying as we are all dependent on them.
    Those Japanese beetles look invasive.

  3. Very good post with great pictures! I hate Japanese bettles! They are eating my cosmos right now. How dare they! Uggghhh!

  4. Wonderful post Rose. So glad you are continuing on with the A Bee Cs.

  5. I've also had plenty of bees, but very few butterflies. I hope it's just the result of the harsh winter we had, and not some other issue.
    Thanks for the picture of Queen Anne's Lace. Growing up, I always wondered why we didn't plant it in our gardens!

  6. I can attest to the fact that your gardens are full of bees. Everytime I visit I see them pollen laden hear them buzzing with joy. They have been very abundant here also.

    I was thinking about the butterflies today-remember last year all the Painted Ladies we had?? I have not seen one this year. And very few of any others. Sad.

    Great B post-those beans are just right for shellies. :)

  7. Glinda the good witch might ask your B's, "Are you a good B, or a bad B,?" - you have some of each, Rose - sure do not miss those Japanese Beetles! And hope you have many more butterflies.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  8. Lovely B post. A perfect letter for garden postings with all the Bs we have. Hang in there, the butterflies are headed your way.

  9. Perfect "Beeeeeeeee" post girl : )
    I have seen more bugs of different parentage ? LOL than ever before this year !
    The glaring exception is the butterfly .. and believe me I plant everything possible to entice them here .. maybe that advertisement I placed with the "Buttery Travel and Tourism" company gave them the wrong idea ? and my garden has been placed on the "no go" zone ?? ;-)

  10. The third one is the most beautiful pic to me... So little bee and so beautiful flower. Composition of the pic is lovely.

  11. I took a wonderful photo yesterday of a thistle with a bee right in the middle - except when i got home I discovered it was completely blurry! neither bee nor flower was in focus. Hey ho.

    Your bees, bugs and butterflies are beautiful. even the bad bugs!

  12. Hi Rose, just to clear a point...our entire land consisits of 1/3 acre my vegetable plot is only 8 foot square! lol! Sorry for any confusion! Could not manage a colossal veg patch! Takes me all my time now!
    Great post Thanks for contributing!


  13. It seems like "B" is the perfect garden letter of the alphabet. I like the way you persisted and got us pics of all the critters!

  14. Dear Rose,
    Always love seeing your bees and blooms and butterflies. I think it has been wet and cool this spring and summer so I have fewer butterflies too.
    When I enlarged your day lily photo I did see a lovely hover flY.
    Your beans look yummy.
    Happy B!
    It is one of my favorite letters....along with Q!

  15. Argh, I hate Japanese beetles, too. Some bugs are at least cute, but, bleck, they are not! Thanks for doing the ABCs, I feel less bad for not doing it myself! :)

  16. B fit the bill for this brigade of bees, bugs, beetles, and butterflies browsing through your garden, Rose. You've been busy!

  17. The letter B is very well suited for insects - some more friendly than others :-) I think I'll keep my distance regarding some of them.

  18. I haven't seen any Japanese beetles this year. Love that!!!!

    Glad you have lots of honey bees. I do see a few of them at work.

  19. Man, those JBs are nasty looking little buggers! I'm SO glad that's one bug we don't have to battle! The Monarch Butterfly is B-yooteefull!

  20. Great post! I saw a Monarch here yesterday and I nearly jumped through the window to get a better look. It was the first one all summer! I too am relieved the JBs have dwindled this year, but I've read that moist conditions in grass help their larvae to grow, so I'm afraid we may have a terrible time with them next year...

  21. A lot of Bs in your garden, Beautiful and Bad!

  22. These bees, bugs,beetles and butterflies are beautifully photographed and your accompanying descriptions are interesting and amusing. My nemeses are aphids, which have made growing nasturtiums impossible, although for some reason they haven't attacked my roses.

    Great post!

  23. Dear wildlife gardener....perhaps it is your excellent choice of planting that has attracted so many bees to your garden. We must never be complacent about bee numbers....there may be many in your gardens but none of us know what is going on in the countryside that surrounds us....but well done you for giving them a wonderful habitat to visit......

    That is, Rose, a beautiful and very healthy looking hoverfly......he will take care of any aphids etc that might be damaging your plants.

    I do wish I had an answer for the japanese beetles....non native insects are without doubt a true pest.
    I am sure the other insects in your bloom are nothing to worry about. I have found that leaving bugs, nature balances things. If you have plenty of good beetles in your garden, they will destroy many of the nasty pests......

    I love your BEE post.....

  24. Janet, Not as many JB's here this year either, but they seem to be on so many more flowers than in the past.

    Maggie May, I know there are concerns about bees here, too, but at least at my house they are numerous, especially the bumblebees. The Japanese beetles have no known predator, unfortunately.

    Ellie Mae, I've seen the JB's on everything this year, too!

    Lisa, Well, B just seemed perfect this week:)

    Joyce, The Queen Anne's Lace was at Meadowbrook Park, but we have it around the back of the farm here where Hubby hasn't trimmed the weeds; I've always loved it, too.

    Beckie, We did have a lot of painted ladies last year, didn't we? I have yet to see an answer as to why they're so scarce. The beans were surprisingly good, even the big ones. Come over if you'd like some!

    Annie, LOL, I do have the good, the bad, and the ugly:)

    Tina, I hope you're right that the butterflies are on their way. It's been unusually cool this July; I don't know if that makes a difference.

    Joy, I have planted lots of new flowers just for the butterflies this year, too, so I'm really disappointed. Darn, I didn't think of placing an ad:)

    Mari, Thank you! I didn't even see the bee until I downloaded the photo:)

    Liz, For every good bee photo I have, I have 2 dozen blurry ones:) It doesn't help that they keep moving on me, either.

  25. Denise, Whew! Thanks for clearing that up. My vegetable garden is not much larger than yours, and I have trouble keeping up with it:)

    Greensboro, All I needed was a bird photo to go with this, but I'm not fast enough to get a good one:)

    Sherry, B is the perfect garden letter, isn't it? I hope you're right that if it warms up, we might have more butterflies. Thanks for id.ing the hoverfly.

    Monica, The JB's would be almost pretty with their iridescent shell if they weren't so darned nasty.

    Joey, "Busy" is a word I should have added this week! I haven't had much time for blogging or gardening, for that matter.

    RuneE, I'm not an insect-lover, but they are interesting. The bees and I have established a peaceful co-existence here; I've never been stung by one in my garden.

    Susie, You are so lucky not to have the Japanese beetles! My few Knockout roses are a mess this year.

    Roger Owen Green, Thanks, and thanks for dropping by!

    Cindy, You are very lucky not to have the JB's. Then again, we've had lots of rain...it's always something, isn't it?

    Regina, Thanks!

    Rose, I've seen the Monarchs around here, just not in my garden. Oh dear, I hope the JB's aren't back in full force next year. I haven't been very good about getting up early to pick them off while they're still sleeping.

    Tatyana, Thank you! The bad does come with the good.

    Granny Smith, Thank you--I'm definitely an amateur when it comes to photography. Aphids are something I haven't noticed here, perhaps because I have enough "good" insects to eat them.

    Cheryl, My father has commented on the lack of bees on his farm. Farmers here often have to spray insecticides on their crops to prevent damage, but it does cut down on the bees, I'm sure. I'm lucky none of it seems to drift into our yard and gardens. Thank you for i.d.ing the hoverfly, too; I didn't realize they were so small, and they are beautiful! Such glistening, golden bodies. Another blogger posted a photo of a robber bee eating Japanese beetles--we told her she could make a fortune breeding these bees and shipping them to the Midwest. There might be hope yet for getting rid of those nasty beetles!

  26. So many garden related B words Rose, an easy letter for this week. Your bees look happy with your chemical free practices, as do the flowers. I really love Queen Anne's Lace and plan on trying to scatter the seeds about more this year. I did have to shield my eyes to the Japanese beetles however. We too had fewer of them this year, but also have had fewer butterflies. Or is it just too early?

  27. Oooh, lots of lovely bugs and beetles and insects of various kinds! Yes, I think that is a hoverfly on the day lily!

    So those are Japanese beetles, are they? It's a good thing I don't have any, because I have some very precious roses (named for departed dogs) and I can't bear to kill beetles!

  28. I love seeing the bees and noticed them the other day covering the cimicifuga. Honeybees love it. Bumblebees also.

  29. Wonderful stroll through your garden! Everything looks healthy and delicious. And Queen Anne's Lace doesn't quite seem ample enough to hold a bumblebee :O)
    Nicely done for B's
    p.s. good luck finding the perfect bench!

  30. Rose,

    Your pics of Bees are wonderful. I don't think I truly appreciated such pictures until I tried to take them myself! Lovely Lily, Rose! I never met a Lily I didn't like! LOL! I have noticed the lower numbers of Butterflies also. I figured it was because of our drought. I do hope you managed to squash all those nasty Beetles--Yuck!

  31. I don't seem to have too many bees, at the moment, unfortunately. I had a lot in the spring, when my Comfrey was in flower in my small wild patch, at the side of my house. I keep thinking that I should pull it out, as it so invasive, but I don't, as the bees would miss it.

    I do have some butterflies at the moment - not as many as I used to have about 5 years ago, or more, but more than last year, when I only saw the odd one.

    Your photos are lovely, as usual. Sorry about those Japanese Beetles. Something has stripped my Mahonia Aquifolium of its leaves twice in the last year. They are just coming back on, now. It was bare in the spring, with no flowers and I almost dug it up, because I thought it was dead.

  32. Love the bees and the butterflies, hate the Japanese beetles. The latter ruined by raspberries bushes just before picking time. Grrr.

  33. Hi Rose....so interesting re Bees and japanese beetles.....that may be the answer one day, you never know.
    The more I talk bees, the more I love them.....

  34. Great collection of B words! Those green beans grow past their tenderest so quickly, don't they?

    On behalf of the Team, many thanks for your contribution.

  35. Frances, The Queen Anne's Lace needs no help from me here. It grows in my husband's "garden"--the weeds around the barn and sheds:) I saw my first Monarch here today! Perhaps the butterflies are on their way.

    Jay, Consider yourself very fortunate to not have these beetles; I think you would soon grow hardened enough to dispose of these nasties.

    Layanee, I didn't start out planting things to attract the bees, but I seem to have done so accidentally.

    Nonizamboni, The bees have perfected a balancing act, I think:) I'm waiting for end-of-the season sales to find that perfect bench.

    MG, The bees are easier to photograph than birds for me, though I have lots of blurry photos. The beetles were promptly pushed into a bath of soapy water:)

    Mean Mom, So glad to have you back! It seems every gardener has some kind of pest, if not the Japanese beetles, then something else.

    Sarah, I didn't know they attacked raspberries as well; how awful!

    Cheryl, Do you have robber bees? I'd love to have a few here:)

    Dragonstar, The beans must have grown three inches overnight!

  36. This could almost be used again for insects! I love honeybees and have often toyed with being a bee keeper, but I have small kids, so it will have to wait.


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