Do They Know its Christmas

Xmas_bee1

May your days bee merry and bright

Remarkably the hawthorn tree at the front gate is starting to blossom. We have had some beautiful, mild days recently, but the nights are chilly and so it seems far too unseasonal to be seeing these flowers. The bees however have been quick to latch on and are busy collecting the pollen, as they do.

Its nice to be seeing them out and about again, and be able to wish them Happy Christmas.

Xmas_bee2

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Sunflowers : Twilight Time

The sunflowers now are in the equivalent of their their twilight years, past their bright yellow prime, all rather brown and withered, heads bowed towards the earth – it won’t be long before we are looking at a freshly ploughed field. Time to capture some final shots, and it seems sunset is the best time.

I now realise that sunflowers point permanently in the same direction all day long – namely to the East. The buds are heliotropic (a bit like me) and at the end of the bud stage all plants are polarized to face in the one direction.

The plants remain in the fields long after the beautiful yellow petals have shrivelled and died. The sunflower however is now busy sorting out its seeds, which considering that it is a commercial crop, is actually the reason for its existence, its raison d’etre.

The seeds will go on to be used to produce sunflower oil, to be used in cooking, as a carrier oil and to produce margarine and biodiesel. The cake remaining after the seeds have been processed for oil is used as a livestock feed.

These mature flowers have droopy heads, looking at the ground, which adds to their forlorn appearance – but this reduces bird damage and losses due to certain diseases.

Its now early October and ‘our’ sunflowers are still there – but most of their compatriots have been gathered up and no doubt squashed and the oil extracted. I suspect Denys the farmer will be along soon with his noisy, ancient combine harvester to do the same.

UPDATE : the farmer has just been and harvested the sunflowers…

Scramble in the Bramble

Not too far from the hive, I discovered a patch of bramble which is ALIVE with bees, bugs and butterflies. The bramble flowers are just opening, and there’s a sort of creeper there too, just blooming. The best time to go is mid morning – I think there’s plenty to go round, but I did witness a couple of altercations.

~ a Marbled White Butterfly takes on a bee ~
the butterfly won

~ Large Skipper butterfly ~
has a large furry body and striped antennae

another butterfly v bee altercation
the butterfly is a Cabbage White

~ Small Copper butterfly (Lycaena phlaes) ~
sitting on Travellers Joy flower (Clematis vitalba)