Carpenter Bees in Alabama

1 04 2013

Tcarpenter bee drawinghanks to a fellow blogger, I have some beautiful, new photos of carpenter bees from Montgomery, Alabama. Carpenter bees and bumbles are often mistaken for one another. The major difference between the two is that the former have a relatively hairless abdomen, while the latter is fuzzy all over.





Chinese Magnolias

18 03 2013

It’s spring. Flowers are popping up everywhere. The all-important Chinese plum blossom season has come and gone. Now, the magnolia trees outside my housing complex have blossomed, and I was able to get out there myself today and photograph.

After doing a little research, there are what I believe to be two different species of native magnolia trees here. One (see the white blooms) is the Magnolia denudata (玉蘭 – yù lán – literally ‘jade orchid’), also called the Yulan magnolia – a symbol of purity. The other (purple blossoms) is the Magnolia liliiflora species (木兰 – mù lán – literally ‘tree orchid’), also called the Mulan magnolia.

Enjoy these beauties below.





Acacia Honey in China

21 01 2013

Chinese Acacia Honey - yang huai feng miFrom time to time, I buy a jar of Chinese honey. It makes sense. After all, I live in China. Why not buy local? Of course, Chinese products are often suspect in some way – many Chinese folks I’ve spoken to are suspicious of honey coming from their own country, and as I’ve written about before, they have a reason to be. But I’ve also written that it’s impossible for us to avoid toxins completely given what we, as humans, have done to our world. So Chinese honey and whatever chemicals it contains makes their way into my kitchen.

Robinia pseudoacacia 004This time round, I secured a jar of acacia honey.  One of the more common monofloral honeys, this honey comes from the false acacia tree  (洋槐 yáng​ huái – black locust tree or Robinia pseudoacacia). The tree grows in warmer climates in Europe and North America, but it also grows in China. The honey is usually rather light in colour, but can have an amber hue (particularly if it has been pasteurized) like in the jar you see here.

Acacia honey has a higher fructose content than most honeys. As a result, it tastes sweeter – you will likely need less to sweeten your tea – and it probably won’t crystallize like most honeys will over time.

See other posts on my Chinese honey adventures:





Enjoying Lavender in Norfolk

15 01 2013

Taken out in the beautiful lavender fields of Norfolk, East Anglia, UK, this is a guest contribution by the folks at the up-and-coming Bee Plan. Their site is in the works, but their mission is clear – they are a non-profit supporting a programme of bee-friendly planting in east London. Looking forward to seeing them (and the bees) in action in the near future :)

Bee - Norfolk Lavender





November Bees in Nanjing

13 11 2012

One thing that I was excited about in coming back to China was catching some bee action. There is a different species of honeybee here – the Eastern honeybee or Apis cerana. I keep a photo gallery of bees from my travels as well as contributions from site visitors. I have a few from my time in Hunan province. Sadly, in the 5 months in 2011 and the 2 months in 2012 I spent in China’s tropical Hainan, I only saw bees once, and I didn’t have my camera with me. But today on a walk in northern Nanjing, I not only came across a massive and impressive spread of urban community gardens, but I spotted a honeybee picking up some autumn nectar as well as some pollen. Check her out below:

Apis cerana in mid-November in Nanjing China

Apis cerana in mid-November in Nanjing China

Apis cerana in mid-November in Nanjing China





Why Do Bees Just ‘Hang Out’?

9 10 2012

Bees are supposed to be busy. Always on the move. Foraging, scouting, collecting, helping the hive thrive. But sometimes, you see a bee just sort of hanging out. Not moving. Not doing much of anything.

There may be a few reasons for this. First, it might be too cold. Bees’ flight muscles need to be held at specific temperatures in order to work properly. When it gets too cold (especially when it is too cold for the insect to shiver and thus raise muscle temperatures), they are grounded.

Another reason might be that the bee is old and tired. This might especially be the case if you notice ragged wings on the bee and it is later in the season.

It could also be possible that the bee (especially males) has forgotten to fuel up by drinking nectar during all of its flying around. No fuel means no energy.

I had a photo submission from 100twenty out in Southern Quebec. A quiet bumble was found hanging off the wild aster in Gatineau Park. One thing about grounded bees – they make for excellent photo opportunities ;)





Frangipani, Anyone?

23 09 2012

Ji dan hua - egg yolk flower - frangipani - plumeria - Haikou, Hainan, ChinaOne of my favourite flowering trees found in the tropics is Plumeria, commonly known as frangipani. They grow in abundance here in tropical China, where they are known as ‘ji dan hua’ (鸡蛋花) or ‘egg yolk flowers’. I find when I pass by them, I inevitably pick up a flower than has fallen and carry it with me on my journey, occasionally smelling it absentmindedly. Not only it is a simple and beautiful flower, but its perfume is intoxicating.

sphinx moth - by the Garden Helper - http://www.thegardenhelper.comIt is actually more fragrant at night. Sphinx moths are the pollinators, and these night creatures follow the deceptive scent in search of nectar. Nectar they don’t find, but they do end up pollinating. Sneaky tree.

Check out some photos of the tree and a few varieties of flower growing around my building at on site at my place of work.

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Pink Frangipani - plumeria - Haikou, Hainan China - September 2012

Pink Frangipani - plumeria - Haikou, Hainan China - September 2012

Branches of an egg yolk flower tree - Frangipani - Plumeria - ji dan hua shu - Haikou, Hainan, China








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