Pink spirea

Pink spirea (Spirea japonica). We’ve had a bush in a partial shade location for years. It stays compact. An innocuous little bush i walk by everyday on the way to the barn. Yesterday Sandra noted that it was alive with many, many bees of different types. I tried a “shot-in-the-dark” ID of the Megachilidae. Our bee book says there are 18 genera and 600 species of Megachilidae in the US and Canada (daunting terms and daunting numbers), so maybe a viewer can be more specific … or correct my error … it would be nice to get a handle on the names and back stories of some of these creatures instead of lumping them all together as “native bees”.

Japanese tree lilac

Japanese tree lilac. I think that is the new urban planting on McLure’s Mills Road …leading to the hospital and the RECC. My sample is from Lower Truro, adjacent to where I keep bees, and the honeybees are feasting on it … along with many native bees. I think blossoms fall when a flower is pollinated. This morning while i was beekeeping there was no wind, but near the lilac tree the air was full of confetti. The Japanese tree lilac “Ivory Silk” is hardy to zone 3, smells nice, grows to 30 feet, resists pests, and attracts pollinators. What’s not to like? I want to get one.

Clammy locust

Clammy (a.k.a. Gooey or Sticky) locust has been in bloom for about a week in our yard. It is a small rough-barked tree and gets it’s name from the sticky twigs. It is a native North American tree that was introduced into Europe around 1600. It likes a sunny edge. Wikipedia says the flowers are used as tea and to make pancakes in many parts of Europe. All other parts of the tree are toxic. Locusts are related to peas. Our trees have their best blossoms ever this year (reaction to stressful years past ???) Like all trees and shrubs they stand out when they are in bloom and I’ve noticed quite a few along the Glooscap Trail, particularly between Carr’s Brook Hill and the foot of Economy Mountain. The bees are loving them.

Amur cork tree

Amur cork tree is proving very attractive to bees right now (early July). We grew our specimen from seed we collected in Montreal years ago. Since that time I’ve noticed a specimen at the NSAC (oops, Dal-Agriculture). I just learned that it is considered an invasive species and banned in some of the United States. i also learned it figures big in Chinese medicine and products from it are reputed to have many health benefits. The tree is native to Manchuria, Korean, Northern China and Japan and because of its hardiness is sometimes used as an urban planting in North America.


I went out to dump the furnace ash last week and saw these ragged looking flowers on a bush at the top of the bank. They are the remains of witchhazel flowers shrivelling up. Witchhazel is a real contrarian. It blooms in October and I missed the full bloom (shown at right). My honeybees are all tucked in for the winter at that time, so I wondered what pollinated a flower in late October and early November. Apparently witch hazel is pollinated by a moth. Hope the moth had a fur coat this October ‘cos it was frostier than usual. Wichhazel is part of folk medicine in both Europe and North America and is the basis for soothing lotions and ointments. Apparently you can chop up and crush stems and boil them to make a potion. HAHAHA (evil laugh). Wordy factoid: I’d assumed that the late blooming habit and its healing properties were the source of “witch” in its name. Wrong! “witch” comes from Middle English “wiche”, which comes from Old English “wice” which means bendy or flexible. So much for the occult.

Image may contain: plant and text

Image may contain: tree, snow, sky, outdoor and nature