Saturday, 8 October 2011
Blessed Bee the Carpenters
When we arrived back in France it was just at the tail end of the brilliant Indian summer enjoyed by the UK and Northern France at the beginning of the month. And on the last day we were thrilled to see we had Carpenter bees, Xylocopa violacea, on the sweet peas.
I'd never seen them this far north before although I knew they were often to be found just a hundred miles or so further south. There were two and I'm hoping that means we might have the start of a colony. The bees are large, nearly 2.5 cm long (about an inch, the size of the biggest bumble bee you'll ever see), a lovely hairy black body and with a violet blue sheen on the wings. They are very active but not in the least aggressive and rarely sting. With luck they will overwinter in holes they have found in dead wood around the farm and come out next spring to make babies.
The bigger better photos here were taken by Paul but I'm quite pleased with my snap in the middle so I've included it as well.
These big bees are solitary and don't socialise much but I've been doing a bit of networking with bloggers during my absence. Paul and I attended a local meet in Buckinghamshire of the Cottage Smallholder forum where it was lovely to meet some other gardening and preserving enthusiasts.
I've also been following Emma Cooper's recent Write Club event where she encouraged guest writers to contribute articles to her blog. The event is closed now but the articles are still available along with lots of other useful and interesting information about gardening so it's worth taking a look. And I was lucky enough to win a prize! Not for my writing but for a lucky random number that picked my comment to this rather nice piece about brambles that has a great recipe included in it.
The weather has gone right off now and I'm in full autumn tidy-up mode, trying to finish harvests, clear up weeds and get prepared for winter. I'm also attempting to keep up with Vegan Mofo 2011 on the Stripey Cat food blog so posting here might be a bit sparse but I do hope to list my seed swaps for this year and talk about my plans for reducing the hungry gap next spring before too long.