Nature’s business is busyness

“Busy as a bee” or “beaver” is an expression many use without a thought. Both these wild creatures are very busy in their lives. Beavers can’t stand the sound of running water and must stop it, so they get busy building a dam somewhere. In most cases, this is very good for the wildlife community especially, but dam building occasionally puts them in conflict with humans if a driveway or road gets flooded in the process. A friend “off island” has just this problem now and recently was asking for suggestions. He likes the beavers and does not want them harmed and enjoys them as neighbors, but his driveway underwater will be a problem. Sometimes the beavers can be caught and moved to a better location. Destroying them is not an option.

I suggested a bridge, but that could be expensive. What the outcome here will be is still to be discovered. I had beavers living on my property for several years, and my only trouble with them was having them eat some of my favorite trees. My son helped me solve that problem quickly by wrapping the trees I wanted to save in chicken wire. The beavers left these alone and took others they wanted until they discovered my pond was really too small for a good home and left. I really liked having them living close by.

At dusk especially, it was fun to sit by the pond and watch them swimming about, gnawing on a tree trunk or sitting on the bank “making their toilette.” They take good care of their furry bodies and constantly groom themselves. If I annoyed them in some way, they would vigorously slap their tails on the water and express their opinion. I miss them.

A bee’s life is very programmed, and each bee hatched has a specific purpose for being alive, and this bee knows its mission and carries it out during its lifetime. There is no deciding what it will do with its life as we humans do. Each bee has a special function in the bee community and does it until death. Giving up its life for the queen bee may be part of its programmed life! When I was in Newfoundland in June, my daughter and I visited an excellent insectarium near Marble Mountain on the west side of the country. If you travel in Newfoundland, don’t miss this very special place. The owner is very knowledgeable and really knows about bees and butterflies. He also is an expert lecturer on the life of bees. It’s an outstanding museum on Route 430, The Viking Trail, just north of Deer Lake.

His presentation was the best I have ever heard, and it was both informative and humorous. To my delight, he opened the lecture with Newfoundland music he played live with a couple of friends. He should definitely record his lecture for use in every high school or college anywhere. Making a lecture or presentation so entertaining is a gift, and this man had it. Bees have been in the news a lot these days. It is not a simple subject.

A neighbor of mine had a colony of bees establishing a nest in a small chest on her porch. She could have co-existed with them but she was planning on renting her cottage soon and felt she had to remove them. I suggested she take the chest far off and maybe they would accept that. She did move it. I met her last Sunday, and she had an update to the story for me. Just a few hours after moving the chest and bees, the bees were back to the very spot on her porch, building their nest under the chair cushion now placed there. With help from a neighbor skilled in beekeeping, they identified the queen, and with the help of this neighbor with some bee skills, the queen and workers were removed and taken far away. They have not been back and hopefully have been able to establish their colony in a safer location.

We are now in the month “when the berries are ripe.” I like the Native American way of giving the seasons and months descriptive names. Lots of berries are eaten by hikers as they travel our trails, and berry pickers seek out the best places to fill their pails and baskets. When I was young, our family of three, (“mother, father and me,” as an old song goes), always picked our blueberries and huckleberries into small pails with handles on them for easy picking and nice woven baskets with a cloth in the bottom to keep the berries from getting out. It was a ritual I enjoyed and still remember after all these years. Blueberry steamed pudding was made after these expeditions and was delicious. Special tins with tight-fitting lids were necessary for the batter. The properly filled tins with their very tight lids were then placed in boiling water and cooked for the proper time, 30 or 40 minutes. The loaf would increase in size, and when the tin was opened, you would have a delicious blueberry loaf to cut in slices and top with hard sauce. It is probably now on the list of foods never to eat, but it was very good.

Goldenrods are blooming in our fields and along the road. This plant usually gets the blame for causing allergies, but it is most likely the wind-pollinated ragweed blooming at the same time that is to blame. Goldenrod has sticky pollen so it will adhere to insects and the pollen is not windblown, therefore unlikely to cause allergies. It is always fun to closely examine a goldenrod flower, for you often find interesting small creatures visiting the flowers. Bumblebees drink the nectar and pack the pollen into carrying pouches on their legs. The well-named ambush bug waits in hiding to feed on insect visitors, as do crab spiders. Tree hoppers feed on the sap from the leaves, and goldenrod beetles eat the leaves themselves.

Some 125 goldenrod species are found in this country, and about 62 live in the east. I especially like the seaside goldenrod growing close to the salt water.

Send any questions or observations to [email protected] or call 244-3742


Ruth Grierson

Ruth Grierson

Send any questions or observations to [email protected] or call 244-3742.
Ruth Grierson

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