All the Bees Looking for a Home Now

Here is a grassland missing its flowers. Cows ate them. While thousands of people have been going to work in the valley below, and back, and forth, only the deer and a curious man have been walking this trail. Well, and the coyotes.

My front lawn to the rescue. I planted it in flowers 6 years ago. Here’s a leaf hopper.

No insects in the “grassland.”

Two Years of Introduced Crested Wheat Grass, Pretty Lonely

But here’s a beetle (I think.)

And a little shadow bee, camouflaged for sagebrush.

And this beauty.

And this little fly. Everyone comes.

Every year, I find a different collection of species. I’m over fifty now. I don’t know their names. I call this golden bee.

Isn’t this one beautiful? All this was within five minutes, in one garden.

There should be flowers in the grass. The bees evolved for them. And now? Well, a deer trail. Somebody ate all the flowers.

At least there’s my garden.

Aphids, even. Everyone needs a home.

Even aphids!

Up on the hill? Ravens cleaning up.

But down here? Ah.

Everyone else. Now I have to help them find their way back. Here.

That is a poet’s work. In this country, the country of the people driving back and forth to work and never coming up on the hill, there is this, pretending to stand in its place:

Toronto’s Ken Babstock as a poetry judge. Sad, really.


Love a planet, today.

Stuff like this doesn’t happen on Mars.


Temporal Photography … With Cool Insects!

I was reading Prefix, a classy Canadian photo magazine, and there it was: a discussion of photography that wasn’t locked in time, but which presented lengthy images of particular views, rather than ones at 1/125th of a second. Wow, I thought. I could try that! So I lugged the forty-year-old tripod out into the garden, dealt with the legs falling apart and the clamps dislodging and falling apart to little bits of mysterious plastic (one is still not working, sigh) and set it up as best I could, given that it’s now a bit of a cripple, and… well, magic happened. I’m hooked. I love this kind of photography. We could set stuff like this up on a wall, and have it go for hours and hours. We could loop it, and it would go for days. I think it’s endlessly beautiful and fascinating. I’d love to see a gallery full of these things! I’ve put the shortest of my experiments below … see how many insects you can count, from miniature bees to spiders, to wasps and hornets, and other things that zip and hum. I recommend watching this with your sound turned down. There’s a lot of noise on the street, and your hidden gardener trimming his hedge… a bit hopelessly noisy. It’s better without the sound, I think. Have a look.

So, what do you think? A great way to document which insects are hanging around (that wasp was spooky!), or something more than that?

Drunk in the Garden

Harold goes away to Palouse Falls and to the painted turtles of Conconully, and it is mighty fine, but summer is two weeks early this year, right, which means that when he gets back the apricots are almost finished their beautiful jammy thing and are not his apricots anymore. The drunkards have taken over the garden.P1180564Unfortunately, despite all the fermented apricot pulp one of them even managed to muster enough wherewithall to sting. Hoooooooooo, I tell ya.






Wild Bees Going Wild

Wasps, bees, hornets, bumblebees, beetles, ants, butterflies … everyone is out in the wild cherries today. Nobody is in the orchards ten feet away. And not one single domesticated bee in sight. Look at them flying around!

Here’s a blue wasp sucking the sweet nectar of life…


And, not to be outdone, a blue ant …


… and this beautiful creature, whatever it is …

P1600930 … and all the while, these guys are flying around …

P1600896 I gave up on photography and just stood in the swarm (they cared not a whit). I noticed this much…

  • Mourning Cloak Butterfly
  • Blue ant … Blue ant? … yeah, blue ant!
  • Shiny blue fly.
  • Grey bee 2 cm
  • Blue wasp 2 cm
  • Blue grey bee 1.5 cm
  • Blue grey bee 2 cm
  • Black wasp 1 cm
  • Black bee-fly 1 cm
  • Beetle-like bee 1.5 cm
  • Small round beetle with grey scribbles on its back 5 mm
  • Yellow bee with black stripes 1.5 cm
  • Yellow and black bee 1.5 cm
  • Multiple tiny bees and wasps ± 5 mm
  • Black hornet 4 cm.
  • Black bumble bee 4 cm
  • Yellow bumble bee 3 cm
  • Yellow jacket 3 cm
  • Black and white striped bee (fat) 2 cm … and
  • Wasp with red abdomen with black lightning strike decoration, like a black widow …

red copyGold fur and black chitin is a very lovely look …
P1600955 Here’s what it looks like in flight …P1600964

And not a single bee, wild or domesticated, in the orchard. Does it really seem an accident that domesticated bees are dying out? The poor things are as poisoned as we are. Now, just so you can share in this glimpse of a possible future for beekeeping, here’s a video, a bad video, a wobbly video with a ridiculous airplane filling it with NOISE, but, still, full of bees, for your pleasure…

They care not one bit whether a human stands in their tree or not. Got that? We’re not the story. Culturally, in these parts wild bees are considered excellent pollinators and … well, that’s about it. But it’s not about pollinating a future crop, and it’s not about honey. It’s about the presence of a crop right now. One ignored by humans. One that causes hay fever among humans with non-localized immune systems damaged by human environments. One that nonetheless provides pollen. Huge amounts of pollen. Here’s the skinny on that:



That is, um, more protein and less fat than a T-bone steak. And we don’t harvest this stuff? Imagine a world in which there were flowers everywhere, no agricultural chemicals, because they didn’t matter, and we just harvested the pollen and staggered around surrounded by beautiful insects and birds and blue (Blue!) ants. I mean, wouldn’t our work places turn into this?

P1610008Beats flogging burgers at MacDonalds. Look again …


See? No grease. Humans, it seems, are always the last to know. That’s because we’re still new on this planet. I think the best thing to say to young scientists might be: Get out of the lab! Go and stand in a tree at 3 in the afternoon on a hot day! Thirty minutes there are worth 5 years in a place of higher learning. Oh, and stay out of the orchard! That place can kill you.