Bee Ball!

Flower Bed (butterfly bush with bees is on middle right)

Flower Bed (butterfly bush with bees is on middle right)

Football-Sized Cluster of Bees

Football-Sized Cluster of Bees

Close-up of Bee Ball (used telephoto lens)

Close-up of Bee Ball (used telephoto lens)

Collecting the Bees

Collecting the Bees

Original Bee Colony in Birdhouse

Original Bee Colony in Birdhouse

We were working in our flower garden on Sunday, and realized there was an unusual number of honeybees flying around our butterfly bush. We didn’t understand why, because the plant had no flowers. Then we saw what was going on – there was a ball of bees in the middle of the bush! They were clustered together protecting the queen, waiting for scout bees to find a new home. The bees had outgrown their original home in the birdhouse nearby. Some of the bees had left in a swarm to start a new colony. If you see a swarm, the bees will leave once they find a new place for a hive (usually within 3-4 days). An article about bees and swarming (which is normal this time of year) is at: http://www.beethinking.com/pages/how-to-catch-a-swarm 

 Luckily we have a beekeeper friend who offered to come collect the bees early this morning (Monday). Time was of the essence, and this morning’s cool, clear weather was perfect for the task. The process was interesting to watch, and it was fascinating to hear that every movement the bees make has meaning. Happily the bees are now sitting in their portable hive under a mango tree in his garden, awaiting transfer to another friend’s yard for her new beekeeping endeavor. The bees are already drinking the 1:1 sugar syrup he provided, and beginning to make wax comb. Bees are an extremely important part of the ecosystem, and critical for the food we eat. At the hive, bees even do a “dance” to tell other bees where nectar can be found. Maybe we’ll get to enjoy some fresh honey from those bees later on!

Florida: Sea Glass and Ocean Gems Symposium

Melbourne Beach

Melbourne Beach

Boardwalk at Barrier Island Center

Boardwalk at Barrier Island Center

Entrance at Barrier Island Center

Entrance at Barrier Island Center

Signpost

Signpost

White Bowl of Sea Glass

White Bowl of Sea Glass

Blue Bowl of Sea Glass

Blue Bowl of Sea Glass

Red Bowl of Sea Glass

Red Bowl of Sea Glass

Sea Glass on Table

Sea Glass on Table

Old Auto Headlight Sea Glass Fragment

Old Auto Headlight Sea Glass Fragment

On Saturday we attended the First Sea Glass and Ocean Gems Symposium at the Barrier Island Center in Melbourne Beach, Florida.  The Center is located in the heart of Archie Carr Refuge, a major nesting site for sea turtles. The festival celebrated not only sea glass, but also sea life and all treasures found at the beach.   There were educational displays, along with arts and crafts on the back deck overlooking the ocean.  The sea glass displayed was collected on local beaches over the past 40 years – some of it washed in from ancient shipwrecks! More info about the Center is at:  http://www.brevardcounty.us/EELProgram/Areas/BarrierIslandSanctuary/Home

Florida: Pretty Turkeys!

Turkey Pair

Turkey Pair

Turkey's Iridescent  Feathers

Turkey’s Iridescent Feathers

Male Turkey Walking

Male Turkey Walking

Wild turkeys are displaying now in Florida.  These pictures were taken in our backyard this past week.  Male turkeys puff up and fan their feathers to impress the females.  They also stamp their feet and turn around in circles.  Usually the females pretend to be unimpressed and pointedly ignore them.  Turkey feathers are beautiful and shimmer with colors in the sun (bronze, gold, purple, and green).  A turkey’s gobble can be heard over a mile away, and is unique to each one.  They are intelligent  social animals that form lasting bonds.  Baby turkeys flock with their mother all year.  I am always surprised by how fast they can run and fly.  What a treat to see them every day! 

 

McKee Gardens: Amazing LEGO Sculptures!

LEGO Hummingbird

LEGO Hummingbird

LEGO Almost 7 Foot Tall Rose

LEGO 7 Foot Tall Rose

LEGO Close-up of Rose Petals

LEGO Close-up of Rose Petals

LEGO Swallowtail Butterfly

LEGO Swallowtail Butterfly

LEGO Swallowtail Butterfly in Bamboo Grove

LEGO Swallowtail Butterfly in Bamboo Grove

LEGO Dragonfly on Pond

LEGO Dragonfly on Pond

LEGO Koi and Waterlily

LEGO Koi and Lilypad

LEGO Frog on Lilypad

LEGO Frog on Lilypad

LEGO Victoria Waterlily

LEGO Victoria Waterlily

Real Victoria Waterlily

Real Victoria Waterlily

LEGO Flying Bee

LEGO Flying Bee

LEGO Rabbit and Fox

LEGO Rabbit and Fox

LEGO Fox in Woods

LEGO Fox in Woods

LEGO Bison and Calf

LEGO Bison and Calf

LEGO Life Size Gardener

LEGO Life Size Gardener

LEGO Life Size Lawn Mower

LEGO Life Size Lawn Mower

LEGO Sprouting Acorn

LEGO Sprouting Acorn

LEGO Goldfinches at Feeder Filled with LEGO Birdseed

LEGO Goldfinches at Feeder Filled with LEGO Birdseed

There is a  special “Nature Connects, a LEGO Brick Exhibition” currently on display at McKee Gardens, Vero Beach, Florida, from January 16 – April 12, 2015.  The sculptures are incredible!  Artist Sean Kenney has transformed children’s toys into real works of art.  His pieces have been shown at galleries, museums, tourist attractions, and on television.  More info about Sean and his amazing LEGO art is at:  http://www.seankenney.com/  Info on visiting McKee Gardens is at:  http://www.mckeegarden.org/  Click on any of the pictures for more detailed information about each art piece.

Amazing Agave Flower Stalk

Agave Flower Stalk Starting to Grow (August 12, 2014)

Agave Flower Stalk Starting to Grow (August 12, 2014)

Agave Flower Stalk Rising (August 18, 2014)

Agave Flower Stalk Rising (August 18, 2014)

Richard Beside Fast Growing Agave Flower Stalk (September 4, 2014)

Richard Beside Fast Growing Agave Flower Stalk (September 4, 2014)

Agave Flower Stalk Branches Opening Out (September 16, 2014)

Agave Flower Stalk Branches Opening Out (September 16, 2014)

Richard Beside Agave Flower Stalk (Nov. 1, 2014)

Richard Beside Agave Flower Stalk (Nov. 1, 2014)

Richard Looking up at 16 Foot Tall Agave Flower Stalk (Nov. 6, 2014)

Richard Looking up at 16 Foot Tall Agave Flower Stalk (Nov. 6, 2014)

Agave Flower Stalk at End of Bloom (Jan. 24, 2015).  Sandhill Crane is on Left.

Agave Flower Stalk at End of Bloom (Jan. 24, 2015). Sandhill Crane is on Left.

Comparison Between Asparagus and Agave Flower Stalks

Comparison Between Asparagus and Agave Flower Stalks

Agave Flowers Attract Honeybees

Agave Flowers Attract Honeybees

Agave Babies May Grow from Flower Stalk Branches after Blooming Ends

Agave Babies May Grow from Flower Stalk Branches after Blooming Ends

Close-up of Baby Agave

Close-up of Baby Agave

In August our 2-year-old agave plant surprised us, and starting sending up a massive flower stalk. It is staggering how quickly it grows. Final height has reached 16 feet – it is quite the show-stopper! Agave are members of the asparagus family (which includes yuccas and ponytail palms). Although the mother plant dies after the plant flowers, there are always several baby plants clustered around the base to take its place. Sometimes an agave will also grow baby plants straight off the flower stalk branches. Products of agave include nectar (a light liquid similar to honey) and tequila. Agave are often called century plants, but happily they don’t actually take a century to bloom!

Florida: Flower Garden in January

Passion Flower - Side View

Passion Flower – Side View

Blue Sky Vine Flower

Blue Sky Vine Flower

Whirligig Daisies

Whirligig Daisies

Powder Puff Flowers

Powder Puff Flowers

Pink Hibiscus with Rain Drops

Pink Hibiscus with Rain Drops

Fancy Orange Hibiscus

Fancy Orange Hibiscus

Aloe Flowers

Aloe Flowers

Stapeliad Starfish Flowers

Stapeliad Starfish Flowers

Agave Leaf with Rain Drops

Agave Leaf with Rain Drops

Agave Spine with Rain Drop Magnifying Plant Below

Agave Spine with Rain Drop Magnifying Plant Below

Mammillaria Cactus with Tiny Pink Blooms

Mammillaria Cactus with Tiny Pink Blooms

Cactus Spine Patterns

Cactus Spine Patterns

Purple Shamrock Flowers (Love Plant)

Purple Shamrock Flowers (Love Plant)

Our Fountain at Dusk

Our Fountain at Dusk

One of the advantages to living in Florida is that you can garden year round.  That is a big plus if you like flowers!  We just bought a new batch of plants today.  Here is what’s in bloom in our yard (click on any picture for more information or to enlarge).

Happy New Year from Florida!

Ring-Billed Gull

Ring-Billed Gull

Sebastian Beach, Florida

Sebastian Beach, Florida

Cannonball Jellyfish

Cannonball Jellyfish

Ruddy Turnstone

Ruddy Turnstone

Happy New Year!  Warm wishes for a year ahead filled with peace, beauty, and joy.

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