Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Benefits of beneficials

Last week Gabe and I were in the yard removing the plastic and agribon covers from the garden beds (finally!) and some of the agribon was pretty beat up so we decided to throw it away. Gabe went to do so and noticed a large swarm of bees around the maple tree in our neighbor's yard. Our yard is just the other side of the fence in the photo below. We have two young kids and having a 'wild' hive really close to our backyard isn't exactly desirable. That said, these guys are pretty darn docile. Gabe contacted the head of his Master Gardener group and county extension agent, who also happens to be an entomologist, to ask what we should do. She gave him some names of 'bee people'. Jerry Morris is who Gabe ended up calling. He's set up this contraption (a medium super) to move the bees from the tree. All told it will take 5 weeks. We wish we could keep the hive in a super in our yard, but alas, we'd have to fence the yard with 'solid fencing at least 6 feet in height' to meet Norman's zoning requirements. Not something we can really afford to do right now.

This year we have had quite the stand of primrose appear (reseed) in our front bed. In addition to shading out some of the more noxious weeds that had tried to take over in recent years this stuff is teaming with beneficial insects and wildlife. One evening we spotted what we thought was a tiger-striped hummingbird. Turns out it was a sphinx moth and the primrose is its host plant. There are many other moths, butterflies and bees flitting around as well. And just this afternoon I spotted a Common Yellowthroat amongst the primrose. While, yes, these are 'common' we don't see much beyond Cardinals, Robins and Pigeons around here. More often than not we are inundated with Starlings and Grackles, so it is pretty nice to see something so striking and so different.

They say it takes around 7 years to heal a piece of land. And this was an abused, compacted, monoculture of suburbia when we took ownership in 2006. We've been here 7 years as of February and I finally feel like we're seeing some lasting positive impacts from our homesteading and permaculture efforts.