Bees, Buds, Birds

IMG_9395The beginning of May has alternated between work and distractions.  We are in the midst of what may be our busiest time in retirement–our first planting season at our new home.  We picked up a good-sized order of orchard trees, companion perennials, berries, asparagus, hazelnuts, seed potatoes and more on the last weekend in April at Fedco–our Maine source of all things growing (in the plant world).  So we pushed hard to get our newly cleared land ready for planting. IMG_8480

But, every day, while I shoveled, planted, and watered, the utter exuberance of the life around me hit me upside the head.  It was a distraction.  But one that I didn’t fight.


A bumblebee, not one of our honeys.

I had my camera with me while planting, so when I heard the Towhee’s “drink your tea-eeeeee” in the sumac, I tried to get a photo as he hopped, maddeningly, deeper into the brush.  I never got a good shot of the Towhee but then was distracted by the blooming maples.  IMG_9378.jpgI spent a lot of time this past week just looking up and listening.  Fortunately, in retirement, I have no deadlines and can indulge in these lovely distractions. IMG_8510IMG_8958IMG_8993

The bees may be my biggest distraction, requiring detours multiple times a day to linger and watch.  I just can’t keep away from them.  We checked on our queen four days after installing the package and the diligent little ladies had properly released her from her cage.  They were building lovely waxy white comb and bringing in pollen, which generally indicates that the queen is laying.


Like planes stacked up to land at Hartsfield Airport.

Our trees have just barely started to leaf out and green up, so our woods remain austere and wintry looking.  But the bees are bringing in fat legfuls of psychedelic orange pollen and a more subdued yellowish stash.  IMG_9173I imagine the orange is from the maples.  IMG_9320IMG_9324The yellow likely comes from dandelion, coltsfoot, birch and willow.  IMG_9331IMG_8831IMG_9359IMG_9424I picked up our tree order on Arbor Day (a fact of which I was unaware at the time) and, that afternoon, planted three apples, two pears, two cherries, two peaches, two persimmons, and a giant medlar (no idea, really, what it is).  IMG_9163The birds were out in full force.  It’s mating season, after all, and the calling, squabbling, and acrobatics are at their peak. 


This Bluejay was drinking from the hose when I watered in a transplanted blueberry.


Here he’s puffing out his feathers at Bluejay on the neighboring branch. Attracting a female or intimidating a rival?


We have hordes of berserker goldfinches.

So, I would dig a bit, pause a bit, watch a bit, take a picture or two, and then dig, plant and water some more. 


This Northern Flicker blends in so well he’s hard to see.  The Flickers just migrated from their winter grounds.


The next day I planted blueberries, haskaps (honeyberries and new to me), an elderberry, a Carolina allspice, and made a nursery for some chestnut whips and my grafted apples (it looks like some of the grafts have taken).  Once I was done, I wandered off in search of the white throated sparrow that had been mournfully singing first on one side, then on the other.  I couldn’t spot the sparrow, but kept happily wandering, fully distracted by the buds and blooms in the exquisite afternoon light.IMG_9432IMG_8599

IMG_9328.jpgIMG_9375IMG_9440IMG_9436.jpgWe spent Mother’s Day weekend in Connecticut visiting my mom and now are looking forward to a week of warmer, sunnier weather.  Bring on the bloom.IMG_9499IMG_9237IMG_9471


20 thoughts on “Bees, Buds, Birds

  1. I think you need to draw a big black line through the word, retiree, and add photographer extraordinare and homesteader. Love hearing about your bees, and I bet you’re sleeping really well at night. 🙂

    • Thanks for the very kind words but I don’t qualify as a real photographer or homesteader! Retiree, yes. The bees should have a good week because our hillside now is covered with dandelions. And, even though I qualify as a true insomniac, I have been sleeping well lately. Amazing what physical labor and fresh air will do.

  2. A terrific post. There’s so much happening outside at this time of year with the new growth and the birds mating and nesting. I love the photos of the bees flying in with their pollen. It is fascinating to see what they’re foraging on. Mine are bringing in plenty of dandelion, too. It’s such a shame that so many people cut it down as a weed around here because it’s such a favourite with pollinators.

    • Oh my, you should see our lawn. We let it grow longer than usual so the bees can have a go at the dandelions (of which there are more than a few). We can’t put off mowing it any longer, so George is going to have to do a very early morning mow before the bees are out. Otherwise, there will be too many casualties. We have several fields down the road that are blanketed with dandelions, so the bees should be able to spare ours. Isn’t this a wonderful time of year?

  3. I can feel your joy shining through this post Brenda. What a blooming good time of the year it is and you have captured it so well. I can understand your bee fascination, what industrious little creatures they are. That sky looks very ominous in the second photo, and is that your house in the trees or a barn? The younger generation just don’t know how good the third generation is, it’s our secret…

    • It’s good to know that I managed to communicate the joy of watching this Maine spring unfold. Having bees gives real meaning to the old expressions, “a hive of activity,” “busy as a bee,” and “bee line.” They are incredible creatures. The building in the ominous sky photo is our neighbors shed, which is right on the edge of our properties.

    • Thanks. After a cold rainy spell, spring was pent up and ready to bust loose. It’s now exploding. And the view, well, it’s by far the biggest distraction. Always changing and now a major part of our lives.

  4. What a lovely view you have! I can’t wait to see how all those trees, bushes and plants get on, how exciting starting afresh like that. I would have been happily distracted too and would have enjoyed looking and listening, there’s nothing better really, especially, as you say, there’s no real rush to get things done, and wow…you sure are getting things done. Good to hear the hive is doing well and that your grafts have taken. What a lovely post!xxx

    • Thank you. Our view is a constant source of wonder to us. It gives us a wide open sky that is quite amazing. It is exciting to start afresh. We’ve done it several times in the past, but never quite like this. It’s nice to have the leisure to follow distractions. A real luxury.

  5. Hasn’t this been a glorious week, with sunshine, temperatures warm enough to open the windows, flowers blooming and trees beginning to open leaves, and new birds arriving every day?

  6. Yes, it’s almost been a sensory overload. The warblers are arriving and I just saw my first hummingbird of the season while I was out watering the hanging baskets. Time to put the feeder out. I’m planting another raised bed today and getting our little mobile greenhouse in. I can’t seem to get enough outside time.

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