Wednesday, July 16, 2008

In my back yard: Bumble Bees

This year has been a surprisingly spectacular one for our tiny Brooklyn back yard cottage garden. For some reason, our Mini Versailles is performing above and beyond all our wildest expectations. All season long the flowering bulbs and pernnials have consistantly looked down right magnificent, despite the lack of personal involvement on our part.

This past Spring with all the construction related damage to the garden's hardscape, we regretfully threw in the trowel, or the spade, or whatever gardeners throw in right before they give up and call in the cement truck and/or the nearest Astro-Turf dealer. Anticipating THE END TIMES were near, we just stopped gardening. Two green thumbs down, way down.

But now of coarse, seeing that she is growing so well on her own, we couldn't not help but to start and pull some weeds, stake up the occasional droopy stem, and cut back those invasive Flowering Quince suckers. Other than these last inning minor interventions, our own private Eden has been thriving on neglect.

Even our prized, mathematically precise topiary ring, composed of 8 miniature boxwood spheres (rigorously maintained in the past by thrice annual manicures) is more or less maintaining its meticulous geometry. Except for a single wayward patch of white Echinacea that has jumped the broken brick path and gone ahead and wedged itself between two of these tiny shrubs, every bush is staying out of each others way, and keeping their branches to themselves.

Perennial Drumstick Alliums by the dozens have attracted all manner of flying insects. Bees, hornets, and wasps fill the airspace above this purple patch like the skies surrounding Laguardia Airport on a Thanksgiving weekend.

During the early afternoon it's possible to count at least a half dozen Bumble Bees with in a single square yard of blossoms. They seem to prefer the nectar of the Coneflower and the newly opened Hosta blooms to anything else.

Fuzzy Wuzzy

You can click on any one of the photos below to enlarge. Check out the pollen grains attracted to the electrostatically charged hairs covering the bee's fuzzy body parts.

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