Friday, January 16, 2009

Feral vs. Wild

Well, it’s -12F outside right now, so a good time to stay inside and post. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the difference between the words feral and wild. When I embarked on this sanctuary project, I knew very little about the ‘big picture’, responding only to alarming press regarding CCD and the loss of domestic honeybee hives. My initial response was to create a sanctuary and stock it with those forage plants favored by honeybees in an attempt to help support any nearby wild hives.

But much homework has to be done before establishing effective gardens so I set about to gather more information about honeybees in order to better select plants.

Among the many things I’ve read, I found an interesting paper. (see link on sidebar) Briefly, this paper documents the arrival of the European honeybee to North America less than 400 years ago. Those first hives were brought to N.A. because the plants that the settlers also brought with them were of little interest to most N.A. native pollinators. Also, Europeans had a taste for honey and a use for beeswax, so like, sheep and horses, beehives were an important livestock for them to bring along. Some of those honeybees then escaped to the environment while others, apparently, were let go deliberately to colonize ahead of the settlers, making the way easier for the settlers’ imported plants.

Well, this set me to pondering. Now I see that my initial thought of supporting ‘wild’ honeybees was in error, or at least misguided. There are no wild honeybees, only domestic livestock that is living outside of human-built bee hives. All those honeybees living in hollow trees or caves or crevasses or in the walls of garages are considered to be feral. (Wikipedia: A feral organism is one that has escaped from domestication and returned, partly or wholly, to its wild state. The introduction of feral animals or plants, like any introduced species, can disrupt ecosystems and may, in some cases, contribute to extinction of indigenous species.)

And that note about 'indigenous species' concerned me. So I set off to see what I could find out about how feral honeybees can impact native pollinators and the relationship they have with native plants. I dug up some interesting articles, but this post is already at its limits. Tune in and I'll share some of what I turned up. Be back soon!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Now that the holidays are past, the leftovers gone, and the lights and decorations down, I stood looking outside the garden windows and was sort of shocked to see that it was still winter.

The holidays always mess with my sense of time, directing attention from outside to in. From Thanksgiving to New Years, it's all a blur. But this year was even worse what with finding the Cottage Garden forum and spending untold hours looking at lovely gardens, interesting plants, visiting blogs and chatting with fellow gardeners about bee and garden projects. Outside never seemed to reach me because my head was filled with spring plans. Then, a couple days ago, I came up for air, took stock and looked around. Whoa! There I was: smack dab in winter. Surprise! With all that cold and wind and snow -- what to do? What to do?

Just one thing, my friends. Time to head for the basement!

Thanks to CG (Cottage Garden) friends, I'll have even more seeds to start than previous years. After all, there is that huge ring garden to fill with bee forage plants, bushes and small trees. There are seed germinators to make ready, trays to tidy, pots to fill, lights to adjust. I also feel compelled to try and build a 'cloning' tray so I can root cuttings from woody plants (I truly blame this last on CG chatter - those folks are such a bad influence! *grin*).

Anyway, I thought I post a picture of a bright winter day on this entry so I can remember what it's like outside right now. Once I head downstairs to the basement, my sense of season will destabilize, become confused, and desert me again. From now until the daffs bloom I'll live in that half-trance mode of two worlds: spring - and waiting-for-spring. ;-)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Sometime within the past couple of days, I saw my neighbor's Christmas tree tossed out for the garbage truck.

Such a pretty tree to come to such an ignominious end.  So I mounted a rescue or sorts.

I dragged the tree over to my place and staked it up near the bird feeder.  Ever since I'd cut down the 3 roses of sharon in that part of the lawn, there is little cover for little birds over the winter.

I figured if I staked up the cut tree, they could roost/hide in there over the winter.

At least the cut tree will have an extended 'life' way more than a couple of weeks in a living room for Christmas.  The neighbors enjoyed it.  Now the birds will enjoy it. And the branches will make good mulch later on.  Waaay better than just going to trash, no?

And you can't deny - it's just beautiful with snow on it. :-D

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Among friends

I was lucky to have some extra time over the holidays so I could browse on the internet. First off let me say that even though I posted and commented a couple of times on the previously mentioned "bee and beekeeping" forum, it is quite inactive and I was very disappointed. However, after mulling it over a bit it dawned on me that I'm not really hanging out in the best forum. After all, if you take away my current aim (supporting bee and other pollinating insects) what do I actually have? Well gee - a cottage garden!

So I cruised on over to the Cottage Garden forum and, honestly, I've barely had time to come up for air! Wonderful folks. Helpful, friendly, informative and enthusiastic. Avid to share plant knowledge, gardening tips and, be still my heart, seeds!

It's an absolute joy to 'hang out' with fellow gardening and pollinator enthusiasts. And, like a lot of folks with a passion, they blog! They journal! They website (is that really verb? *heh)! There's nothing like a picture of a sunny garden on a winter's day to boost spirits and get the brain racing toward the next season.

I was so inspired by the garden pics I've seen, that even though this blog is dedicated to bee and pollinator gardening, I couldn't resist showing off some of my own efforts. So I've added 2 new pages to this blog. At the top of the sidebar there is a new label with links to pictures of my flower gardens and the vegetable garden. After all, what good is the internet if you can't load up a server somewhere with a gazillion pics! :-)

Meanwhile....back to the forum. I'm collecting new tips for starting bee forage plant seeds in the basement. ;-)