Longtime followers likely recall that I spend part of my summers at a family cabin in Colorado’s Front Range. When I arrived this year, I hit the peak blooming of the local choke cherries, making the butterflies quite happy! Here’s a sampling of what I’m seeing–only a sample, because some won’t sit still!
Tiger Swallowtails sipping minerals from wet soil.
A ‘lighter tiger swallowtail’ that I’ve noticed for the first time is a western species called Pale Swallowtail. I finally caught two feeding on lilacs and frolicking–possibly mating?–across the meadow.
Either a comma or question mark butterfly, it didn’t sit still enough to tell.
A rather ragged Mourning Cloak.
A hairstreak that I can’t identify.
I have just started submitting my sightings to Butterflies and Moths of North America, a site collecting and sharing data on Lepidoptera. The site welcomes anyone to submit photographs, and will verify your identification, so I hope to get names for my unidentified species.
On the writing front, I have a YA novel’s edited draft out for critiques, and am trying to keep up with putting in the edits as I do cabin chores.
It’s been a busy spring, some of it my doing, some of it I was drafted into. I’m not protesting too much.
My dear husband Bill decided to take a beekeeping class to assist with the bee hive at our church. The first hive died last fall and he didn’t know why.
The class met for seven weeks at a school less than a mile away. Couldn’t be easier, except Bill had to be at a conference one week. He asked me to attend and take notes, assuring me this was right up my alley because this was the plant class–the main nectar and pollen sources from February through November. In other words, Skunk Cabbage to Asters.
Yes, I did like it. I knew most of the trees and wildflowers, and now I can’t pass one of them without thinking bees! Pollinators and their importance have been on my mind a lot the last year–and we have a wild hive at our cabin–so I decided to attend the remaining classes, including the hands-on field trip to the instructors’ bee yard.
The first stop was their honey house:
Dealing with pests
Then we suited up and went to the bee yard.
We get the smoker going and…
open a hive.
We all want to see a queen. These are split hives that the instructors are creating for the class participants, and we want to mark the queen, both to assure she is there and to make it easy to find her again. Each frame is inspected.
Nectar in the cells. The yellow is pollen.
Brood in the cells.
A queen cell that has hatched, likely taking a swarm with her.
The class splits up and smaller groups open their own hives.
My husband opens a hive and removes a frame heavy with honey covering both sides.
In an eureka moment he figures out why his hive died–its frames were full of honey, so full, the bees didn’t have room to raise brood in the fall. The fall workers died out, leaving no new bees to carry the hive through the winter. Sad, but now we now what to look for and what to do.
We find a queen–she moves so quickly I can’t get a photo, but our instructor catches her in a clear tube fitted with a sponge and plunger.
He works her to the top and places a dot on her back. The color indicates the year.
The class has been great. We head home with more confidence and supplies to wait for our bees to pass an inspection to assure they do not have American Foulbrood, a very persistent bee disease.
Our new hive starter arrived this week, a ‘nucleus hive’ or ‘nuc’ of five frames with a queen.
The ‘ladies’ as our mentor beekeepers called them, happily flew over to inspect the larger quarters, then the five nuc frames were moved. The rest of the hivebox is filled with a third capped honey in case they can’t collect enough and two-thirds empty frames for them to build out and raise brood. We have to keep a watch on how fast they are filling those cells and add another level.
I’ve teamed up with more than 45 sci-fi romance authors to give away a huge collection of novels to 2 lucky winners, plus a Kindle Fire to the Grand Prize winner!
You can win my novel PASSAGES, plus books from authors like Anne Renwick, J.T. Bock and Veronica Scott.
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What’s ‘important’ is often overlooked… #BookQW
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I haven’t gotten out too many posts this winter, and I hope my readers will forgive me as I continue to write and revise my next novel. I’m participating in the Blogging From A to Z Challenge in April over on my nature blog, The Squirrel Nutwork–come see what my squirrels are up to!
And of course, Book Quote Wednesday remains a steady way to touch base, here and on the twitter hashtag #BookQW. (I’m @laurelwanrow ) Today’s featured word is ‘good.’
Our featured word is “breath” for this week!