Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Apiary Update

For bees, the flower is the fountain of life. For flowers, the bee is the messenger of love.
~Kahlil Gibran
I am sad to report that my bees have all died this year. We did our utmost to keep the hive alive this spring. I could see that it was failing and that the queen had disappeared so we inserted a few frames with new eggs and some brood from a strong hive so they could make their own queen, which they did, but within a few months it had completely died. Not sure why but such is the way of beekeeping in these difficult and troubling times for the bees.

Happily there are several beekeepers within blocks of my urban home and their bees are going to town these sunny days on my Silver Vein Creeper (Parthenocissus henryana), packing full the pollen sacks on their legs.

I planted this vine years ago to camouflage an otherwise boring fence and I’ve been so happy with it. It grows to 10 feet long (3 meters) so it nicely covers a 6 foot (1.8m) fence, draping gracefully over the other side as seen above.

The leaves are a silver-veined green turning a lovely apricot in the fall. A perfect backdrop to the fall blooming and fragrant Gladiolus callianthus (formerly Acidanthera). While in the photo above the background of these leaves is in fuzzy focus, you can get an idea of the colors.

The vine's flowers are considered ‘insignificant’ in the gardening world, which just means they are so small they are hardly visible, but for the bees they pack a wallop in the pollen department. In the above photo is an opened flower, pollen exposed. Below you can see the vines are covered with flower buds, just a tad bigger than a pinhead.

This is neither a messy vine nor a thug by any means. It is deciduous, so the leaves drop off for the winter, making great mulch and providing easy access to the vines to prune and control as you please in late winter, early spring. This is when I thin it out and corral its growth. It can take sun to part shade and is hardy to USDA zone 4. It is self attaching, meaning it puts out little tendrils which find a flat surface then stick to it with little round pads, like frogs ‘toes’, if you will. These tendrils will also curl around a wire support if you choose to use a trellis.

Overall a very easy and versatile vine. I highly recommend it, especially for the bees!

In Bloom In My Garden Today: Alyssum, Begonia ‘bonfire’, Caryopteris ‘longwood blue’ (bluebeard), Cimicifuga simplex ‘brunette’, Coreopsis ‘moonbeam’, Cyclamen, Daisy(white double), Daphne caucasica ‘Eternal Fragrance’, Echinacea pallida, Echinacea purpurea magnus, Fuchsia, Gaillardia (blanket flower), Gladiolus callianthus (formerly Acidanthera), Kirengeshoma palmata, Kniphofia ‘echo mango’Mullen chaixii ‘Album’, Nepeta ‘six hills giant’ (catmint), Perovskia ‘little spire’, Phygelius ‘new sensation’ (cape fushia), Rose, Salvia, Star Jasmine (trachelospermum jasminoides), Tomato

Authors photos


Shari said...

Hi Joan! I am very tardy at getting to comment - I've been reading blog posts via Feedly on my iPhone while my office stuff was packed up and commenting was problematic.

I am so sorry to hear that your bees didn't make it! Will you have more bees again? Is there a seasonal time to start up a new hive?

Love reading your posts, as always!

Joan said...

Hi Shari,
Thanks for commenting, I know how crazy busy you've been!
Yes there is a seasonal time for starting beehives. Here in the PNW it is mid to late April. I may start another hive at that time but not sure yet. It is a time commitment and I must say this summer has been a tad easier without them. If not next year I will no doubt have them again someday. They are a joy to have around. Needless to say I'm keeping my equipment.