Monday, August 10, 2015

Barley Bales and Bumble Bees


We have bumble bees in the backyard--not as many as previous years, but still some, and lots of honeybees from my neighbor's hives. This lady is covered with pollen:

They don't seem to mind me weeding around them--I can reach my hand right past them and they don't even lift up and fly around, except to get to the next flower. I've been trying to plant more things to feed them, but their favorite item is the catmint, which luckily for both of us grows like a weed and blooms all summer.

And speaking of blooms, the hosta has decided to bloom for a second time this year:

Hummingbirds come by to check these out, and I would love to plant a hardy mandevilla or something to keep them visiting more often. I don't really like the feeders--I always feel like that is "junk food" for the hummingbirds and it keeps them from getting more nutritious food from the flowers. A visitor I'd like less of is raccoons. They tore a hole in my potting soil bag, and then they took an interest in my floating barley bale (the barley straw bale helps clarify the pond water, though no one is quite sure how--I think the barley has some kind of beneficial bacteria that eats the suspended algae in the pond). Here's the bale before raccoons:

And here is the poor bale after a raccoon decided to open it up and see if there was something cool inside:

"No, you ridiculous RatMonkeyBurglar, just MORE HAY." They have left the current bale alone, which is good as they cost 6.00 apiece for essentially a bundle of dead grass. And look, it's me, the biggest yard pest of all:

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