Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Ball of Bees

With temperatures just a hair above freezing at night and a bit warmer during the day you would think that the bees would be in cluster by now.  Perhaps their exoskeletons are a bit thicker here than the average southern climate bee because they seem to think anything above 40F is perfectly acceptable forage weather... really!  Perhaps it's some paternal instinct for their well being that makes me think that they shouldn't be out flying, as I watch the entrance activity in my down coat and gloves.

Regardless of my opinion, it seems that Mother Nature is in agreement with them and the plants are providing both pollen and propolis.  There is however one difference from summer foraging and that is they greatly shorten the window of foraging time to the best daylight house of the day from 10-2PM.

Entrance traffic jam.

If a picture is worth a 1000 words well here are a couple video clips to give you a better picture of how busy they still are.  These were taken around 11AM on 11/26/2012 and the temp was reading 42F.

Clip 2 - A little closer.

As you can see there is some light yellow and whitish pollen coming in.  So where are they finding all this pollen?  Here are are a few places I found on a walk around the neighborhood:

Choisya (Mock Orange) sometimes can get confused by the weather and bloom in late fall.

The rain also has ivy putting out a secondary bloom.  There is a lot less competition on the blooms now with the lower temps shutting down the wasps (finally).

Japanese Aralia has a very similar flower to ivy, and this is an evergreen bush with large leaves.  The buds below haven't opened yet but the ones in the background have.

Penstemon is a hardy flower that blooms into late fall.  The bell shape of the bloom protects the pollen inside from getting wet.

Some varieties of Hebe also bloom in winter.

A few sunny spots still have fennel blooming.

 Winter Camellia blooms opening and have lots of pollen up for grabs.


Wow with all those flowers you might think Seattle was a topical oasis, but it is not and you just have to look at all the bare trees to know that it is indeed winter.  Perhaps the plants here are just thick skinned not too unlike the bees.

Back to the bees.

- Jeff

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