Random Ramblings

Random Ramblings: Personal observations on a wide variety of subjects. Photographs of creatures and things that are taken on seeing the unusual as well as everyday things.

Silent bee

Today, whilst checking on the insect house, I noticed one of the larger bees tucked inwards on one of the middle bamboo canes. It appeared to remain in this position all day, as every time I peered at the little house it lay still in a semi-sideways position with its back facing me. At first, I thought that it was adhering some of the green leaf to make fresh egg chambers - but as it didn't stir from the same cane all day, I'm wondering if it has become ill. Compared to yesterday there was not as much action with the bees today. The fruit on the Brambly apple trees and also the Williams and Conference pears should soon be ripe enough for picking. There have already been quite a few windfalls with the apples. The plum tree is now down to its last few plums - they have all been soft and sweet and readily fell off their stones. post extra: day 37 after St Swithin's - it was fairly dull with a couple of brief episodes of watery sunshine with a cool breeze.

It's all in the cut

The leaf cutter bees are busier than ever. They seem attracted to leaves that are of a certain thickness and reasonably soft to the touch. Leaves which have a slight point to them also seem to be preferred. I now have a garden with so many circles cut from the leaves it has formed a sort of patchwork. I think, by the quantity of circles being carved from the leaves there must be more bees in the vicinity than the ones using my little insect house. Today they have been going in and out of the bottom row of the canes. In addition to the industrious behaviour of the bees in the bottom row, there have been occasional visits to ones slightly higher up. Whether this is to inspect possible hatchings or whether it is to add more eggs, I am unsure.
post extra: day 34 after St Swithin's - quite cloudy and considerably cooler; day 35 after St Swithin's - quite pleasant with a cool breeze. Today day 36 after St Swithin's - fairly overcast with an occasional sunny period - a light wind lasted all day.

Merry Monday

The sun greeted the morning with a cool brightness. The day soon changed and became overcast. It was noticably much colder than the previous days had been. It is a holiday today - bank holiday Monday. post extra: day 33 after St Swithin's - the weather has begun to change, the afternoon has been cloudy and quite cool.


The devastation in Greece at the moment is truly terrible. To have fires take out whole swathes of landscape, animals and now with the inclusion of many of the people who lived there is catastrophic and frightening. It is made worse by the announcement that these fires have been started deliberately. What kind of a mentality could want to kill all life form, people, animals, birds, reptiles, insects, trees and plants ... how could anyone posses such a twisted mind?

Sunday serenade

The insects are finally beginning their overture of humming softly as they peruse the flower beds. There has been a selection of hover flies, numerous small flying ants, wasps, bumble bees, honey bees, gnats and several other flies and of course, the bees in the insect house. I have also seen a few collared doves, an occasional wood pigeon, several magpies which now use the bird table as adeptly as the sparrows of which do not frequent the garden as often as I should like. I have always enjoyed the interaction that you see when there are several sparrows feeding all at the same time. post extra: day 32 after St Swithin's - it has been lovely and sunny all day.

Busy bees

The weather has decidedly changed for the better. This has brought about greater activity with the bees using the small insect house. They are now proceeding to fill in some of the bottom row of bamboo canes - busily taking in small pieces of nibbled off leaves. Strangely, several of the bees have been going in and out of the lower part of the insect house. This bottom compartment is currently occupied by a family of woodlice of all different sizes and ages. The woodlice mainly huddle in the top right-hand corner of this little box. On the floor of their compartment is a selection of pieces of bark and what looks like large specks of soot. This is most likely, woodlice excrement! post extra: day 31 after St Swithin's - has been one of those glorious summer days with the sun hot in the pale blue sky with only an occasional wisp of a cloud, topped off with the softest sigh of a breeze.

At last

I have been unable to get into blogger but finally, today - my screen has at last opened! There has been a great improvement in the weather today. A real English August Summer day and hopefully leading on to a magnificent bank holiday weekend! post extra: days 28 and 29 after St Swithin's - the weather hasn't been too bad and appears to be improving, if a little overcast. Day 30 after St Swithin's - Summer has finally returned with a glorious, wonderfully sunny day!

Successful sighting

At last, today I have seen two more of the bees - deep inside the bamboo canes. One of them was crawling on the side of the hollowed out bamboo and eventually sped off over the shrubbery. Earlier in the year, we added to our mini back garden orchard of five Brambly apple trees, two Williams and one Conference pear trees, and a sweet cherry. We planted several small plum trees, three of these were gauges, one Victoria as well as a damson and a second variety of cherry. Today we began picking and of course tasting our crop of the Victoria plums and they are beautifully sweet! post extra: day 26 after St Swithin's - quite pleasant though mostly cloudy. Day 27, today has been cloudy with a very cool breeze.

Sunday Secrets

Another dull and wet day which started quite promising. I think that the bees, having laid their eggs in the bamboo have now left their eggs/offspring to hatch and alight on their own. There is no longer any sign of adult bees. Apart from the sealed cells housing the young bee eggs/larvae, and the bottom woodlice compartment the remainder of this little wooden home is apparently empty. post extra: day 25 after St Swithin's - moderate showers.

Water's wet

Today, it has rained, and rained, and rained. The rain at times has been heavy and other times has been light but the kind that penetrates clothing and wets you through-and-through. It has persisted all day. I have not ventured out to check on the insect house and see what has happened to the bees! post extra: day 24 after St Swithin's - what can I say except rain, rain and yes more rain.

Bee still

After another day of poor weather, the bees have not shown themselves all day! As one of the leaf covered chambers has been opened and the next leaf-door is now approximately an inch down. This could mean that one of the bees has hatched or attacked by an enemy. I am hoping for the former and think that this is very probable as I believe bees that are produced in separate chambers hatch from the outside in. post extra: day 33 after St Swithin's - showers early with bright periods especially in the afternoon.

Bee quiet

With all of the rain that we have had over the last two days the bees have not been buzzing around the insect house. Today, which has been much brighter, has brought the emergence of two of the bees and they have opened up one of the leaf covered entrances. There are no visible signs of bees or anything else within this open bamboo cane. Will we now have an increased bee activity? Have baby bees increased the numbers? post extra: day 30 & 31 after St Swithin's - thunderstorms and torrential downpours ..... wet! day 32 - quite pleasant and fair with sunny periods - one or two showers throughout the day but mainly morning and early afternoon leaving the rest of the day quite good.

Pale abs ... stranger

Today, a bee with a much lighter abdomen turned up at the insect house. It seemed to be of the same species - the patchwork leaf cutter bee - but underneath instead of the rich golden abdomen of the other large bees, this one was a creamy lemon. As it came in to land on the edge of the canes, its body seemed to throb and undulate. It then took off and landed on the ground where it carried on the motion. Finally it landed back onto an empty hollow bamboo cane and went inside. post extra: day 29 after St Swithin's - slightly cooler than yesterday but still sunny and a little more breezy than Sunday. note: the bees have begun to carve small pieces out of the cherry tree leaves, to add to the numerous other plant species that they are using to place into the bamboo cane hollows.

Toby Twirl Adventures

When I was a very small child, my parents bought me a book called "Toby Twirl Adventures" by Sheila Hodgetts. It introduced me to the wonderful world of make believe and the mysteries that were housed in the written word. Occasionally, I meet someone who also has the pleasure of this book. It probably isn't available anymore but I have never forgotten it. Toby was a little pig, portrayed as a person. Most of the stories were set in rhyme and with a picture above each part of the tale. It was this book that introduced me to both China and America. post extra: day 28 after St Swithin's - rain showers began just after midnight but the day was sunny and warm.

Bee detective

I have found that that the bees in the small insect house have been carving small semi-circles and almost perfect circles out of the leaves of a red rose that is growing in the front garden. I am uncertain of the name of the rose but it smells like the rose fragrance from Turkish delight and is cramped so that it looks as though it has almost too many petals in each perfectly formed flower. The same patterns have been carved out of a lime coloured leaf of a fuchsia plant, an ash tree and lastly a small buddleia bush. These are listed as carpenter bees. There are notes in Collins Complete Guide British Wildlife that refers to "Patchwork Leaf-cutter Bee" but this guide states that the bee uses 'leaves of garden roses.' There is no mention of using a variety of leaves. The bees are still taking chunks of leaf to the hollowed out bamboo canes of the insect house. I am puzzled as some of the holes are plugged with what appears to be mud. There also appears to be a smaller bee that flies up to and sometimes into the holes of these leaf cutter bees even when the larger leaf cutter bee is inside the cane. post extra: yesterday was the 26th day after St Swithin's - a really lovely day, warm and sunny. Today which is day 27 after St Swithin's - it was kick off for the new football season and as with every year (you can guarantee it) it was hot and sunny with only a few wispy clouds - magnificent!

Frogs on a very black night

The sky is cloudy creating an inky black night - the frogs are out trying to catch their dinner. Everyone mentions cat's eyes in the dark of night - but the frogs manage to catch the smallest of insects that hover over the coal blackness of the water with the swiftness of an arrow fired from the longbow of the yew tree. Frogs eyes do not appear to reflect the light - insects, no chance! post extra: day 25 after St Swithin's - another beautiful English summer's day.

Soft sphynx relaxed repose

Our cat often lies in the Sphinx position, sometimes she hides her front paws - neatly wrapping them inside each other - can this really be comfortable? I suppose that it must be. It seems not to cause any ill effects - if she hears a noise and wants to investigate she immediately bounds to the door - gracefully of course! post extra: day 24 after St Swithin's - a lovely sunny summer's day.

Are you gullible?

No? Have you ever bought an item advertised on the TV, radio, or in magazines or newspapers? If the answer is yes then you may be gullible. This may also mean that you could easily be taken advantage of - so be careful. Think again before you purchase that new item that you have never tried before, do you really need it? Listen carefully and be quick not to judge others on here say. If you are or could be the type of person that is gullible then you may also be dangerous. How can someone be dangerous in these circumstances? What if you were a member of a jury? What if you were persuaded that a person on trial was guilty by clever rhetoric rather than by definite proven facts? What, also, if you were weak enough to be badgered into changing your opinion of a persons innocence or guilt by persistent bullies while the evidence and rhetoric was being sifted through by all the members of the jury? Could you then say that the jury system offered justice? There is also the dreadful scenario, as an innocent person in court and on trial by the jury system how could you be assured of a fair and just trial? If people can be so easily persuaded by others to come to specific conclusions, then the chances are that your trial would carry the risk of being unjust and unfair. Whatever your opinion, it is obvious that the jury system is flawed - and the evidence for this statement are the amount of people found guilty in "trial by jury" who in later years, sometimes decades later, are eventually proven to be innocent. In years gone by, when the death penalty was still used, some of these people have been hung - only to be declared innocent after the event. Perhaps, we should think about trying to find a different way to sort out a person's innocence or guilt of a crime if we believe in true justice for all. post extra: day 23 after St Swithin's - slightly cooler than yesterday but warm, sunny and breezy with a few odd spits of rain.

Another brick in the wall - another leaf in the hole!

The bees continue with their unusual behaviour and have now started to block the entrance of yet another of the hollow bamboo canes with circular leaf shapes. This time, the new activity is on the second row from the bottom. Is there going to be a colony of baby bees? Is this a food storage area? What on earth is going on? I have looked in books and on various bee sites but as yet have not been able to find anything resembling this - at least not within the bee family.

Powder puff pollen

Bring out the turmeric there is pollen everywhere! It's on the breeze, here's another sneeze ... There seems to be more pollen about than is usual for the time of year which is unexpected in some ways as we have had so much rain in July. Perhaps, the amount of pollen is due to some plants flowering much later than usual and others flowering at the right time. A couple of years ago I read an article about turmeric quelling the symptoms of both hay fever and rhinitis - especially preventing runny eyes. I purchased some in tablet form and thought 'here goes - I've probably been conned again into buying something that will be a complete waste of money' but surprisingly it did work. post extra: day 22 after St Swithin's - a light shower early, followed by a very pleasant day. Quite sunny and warm and hot in the direct sun with a soft warm breeze.

Heady, hazy, lazy, hot, sunny, Sunday

It's the very first Sunday in August. The weather is perfect. There are white, wispy, watery clouds gliding slowly over a brilliant blue sky. A warm breeze gently rustles its way through the leaves of the apple and pear trees. The breeze occasionally picking up speed just enough for the sword like tips of the montbretia to bend briefly and dip its spears into the trickling water of the pond. The perfect scene was enhanced by the first sighting of a dragonfly this year. It measured between two and three inches in length and was coloured mainly a bright vibrant green with a few suggestions of blue green on the body. Its wings seemed to dance with various colours as it hovered for a few seconds above the water. Then it was gone so swiftly - I felt elated by its fleeting visit, yet almost cheated at by such a swift departure. I didn't have my camera to record its perfect beauty - may be next time! post extra: day 21 after St Swithin's - perfect. Note: the bees had a new visitor today. Another of the larger bees tried to enter one of the bamboo cane hollows but was fiercely dive-bombed by one of the smaller bees. This new larger bee fell harshly to the ground stunned. After a few moments if flew off quickly away from the insect house.

Bully off

There is an ancient primitive behavioural pattern that occurs within the animal kingdom that some people unfortunately display, almost wearing it like a badge. It is the abusive act of the bully. Found in all walks of life from the youngest of children to the oldest of people it is present in the playground, classroom, public transport, work place, in fact, anywhere there are people. As with any form of abuse it can have lasting damaging effects on the recipient. Whatever our background or beliefs - do we really think that any form of bullying is acceptable? And yet, are we superior to those who would bully? Do we prevent it? Do we intervene? Do we draw up laws to protect those who are unable to protect themselves? Do we claim to say no to abuse and yet turn a blind eye to those who suffer? If we do not offer solutions then we too are being bullied. Perhaps it's time that we all do a little more to make this beautiful planet a wonderful place for everyone to live. post extra: day 20 after St Swithin's - there has been patchy clouds with a warm breeze.

Riddle rounds

Today, the bees were behaving bizzarly. The larger bee began tossing out what appeared to be small chunks of either pollen or wax from one of the bamboo canes. One small round lump after another was jettisoned from the entrance of the cane. Then entering another cane - the bee placed its mouth/tongue onto the inside and began to grind backwards and forwards like a miniature hoover. The bee moved back to the first bamboo cane and a larger circular blob landed heavily onto the path. It was the exact size of the open round of the empty bamboo. I retrieved it and it was full of a heavy orange substance. I dipped my finger into it and it appeared and smelt like beeswax. See the picture above, middle item next to the penny. What are these bees doing? post extra: day 19 after St Swithin's - today has been pleasant and sunny with a soft breeze.

Hedgehog hike

Late last night, a very young hedgehog was nibbling at some small crumbs of cat kibble outside on the garden path. It looked like a small, round, brown pompom. When it had eaten its fill, it ran off on such long legs and at such a quick pace - within a few seconds it was invisible in the blackness. post extra: day 18 after St Swithin's - rainfall mid-morning and one small light shower in the afternoon. On the whole it was quite a pleasant day.

The first day of August

"A pinch and a punch it's the first of the month!" or if you are in need of good fortune "white rabbits!" ... today has been lovely. A real English summer's day. The sky has been a soft, powder blue with an occasional small cotton wool cloud. The air is sweet and fragrant from the lavender and phlox. At last there are a few insects whirring about. The little bee colony in my insect house has been particularly active. The larger bee appears to be in charge, shuffling in and out of the various bamboo canes. Other slightly smaller bees have been flying to and fro from the various flowers and back to the larger bee. The larger bee is now getting more protective of the insect house and at one point, whilst I was in the process of taking a picture of her (as I think that this bee is a female and possibly a queen), she flew out and proceeded to chase me around the garden. Her buzzing did not appear to get louder so although this appeared to be a warning she did not seem to be becoming too aggressive (I hope). post extra: day 17 after St Swithin's - perfect summer's day weather.