Saturday, September 24, 2011

Honey Harvesttime

The long, hot summer has been tough on wildlife.  That includes honeybees.  Even with so little natural pollen and nectar, there's been some honey production.  Here, Lee Ann pulls out a frame of bees showing some brood as well as honey and pollen cells.  The picture shows a couple of "supers" on top of the hive bodies which are yielding some honey.   We have a very small, hobby, operation but the big operators probably had a tough year of it at least in Southern Kansas.  Keeping honey bees is almost a fulltime job nowadays with so many issues they face--mites, hive moths, foul brood, pesticides, and colony collapse which is not fully understood.  It takes nearly constant monitoring to keep a colony healthy and productive.  But, oh the payoff!  If you can get some home grown honey, its worth it all! 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ode to a Toad

Found you lurking in the ground,
hiding in your little mound,
teased you from your earthen nest,
stalking small and large insects;

It’s really great to see you here,
lurking in your garden lair,
living through such torment,
such horrid drought this summer sent;

Woodhouse’s Toad, you’re such a joy
a fun hand pet for girl and boy,
from head to toe, your warts and all,
your amazingly loud and whirring call;

Lucky are the ones who see,
you waiting very patiently,
beside the beaming yard light pole,
swallowing those ole June bugs whole;

Thanks for helping my garden plants,
by eating some of their many pests,
and by entertaining so many kids,
their parents and sometimes their pets.

Some think of you as just a toad,
some small beast to dodge on roads,
but I prefer more loftier quest,
I consider you some of nature’s best!

(To read about Woodhouse’s Toad, google Kansas Herp Atlas.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Beauty in spite of drought

A lot of southern Kansas is still in serious drought.  In spite of how bad the land looks, there is still beauty to be found.  I found some in the form of Rocky Mountain Bee Plants along a Red Hills country road.  The pretty flowers were being visited by many insects including this White-lined Sphinx moth, a moth which is also active during daylight hours.  This large moth is also called a hummingbird moth for its obvious resemblance.  Look carefully at garden flowers this time of year as it could be a hummingbird or a moth visiting your floral display.  Then, also appearing on the same plant was this Variegated Fritillary butterfly.  Look closely and you can see how worn the wings are on this insect, evidence that it is an older member of a later generation for this year.  There's a dearth of flowering plants in the hills this year because of the lack of precipitation.  But, along some of the road ditches, there was enough moisture to support some of these persistent and beautiful plants.