Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Next Four

The next four bee paintings coming down the pike (begun yesterday) will be based on these:
bees on onion flower, on Pelargonium sidoidies - Umckaloabo (yeah, had to look that one up), on a meyer lemon blossom, and on agastache.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Films about Bees

There are a number of great films about bees available now; some you can watch from your computer, some are rentable , others are still available only in limited screenings.

For a mind-blowing overview of how honeybees work-- "Bees: Tales From the Hive", a Nova documentary with incredible footage of bees in flight, is very comprehensive and covers all the phases of their life cycles. I had the DVD delivered from Netflix, and I find that someone has put the entire film up on YouTube in 3 parts (first part linked below).
As "Tales From the Hive" came out in 2000, and Colony Collapse Disorder wasn't on the radar until 2006, of course it doesn't deal with the topic, but a slew of new films do.
There's a PBS documentary called "Silence of the Bees" (2007) (which you can watch at the link), a (slightly quirky) one called Colony, available streaming on Netflix, and the most recent I watched, Vanishing of the Bees (2010), which I *highly* recommend (rentable through Netflix).  It puts forth what seems like a pretty plausible explanation for CCD. Yet another that has been recommended to me by several people, but can only be seen at this point in very limited screenings is Queen of the Sun.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Painting: bee on scabiosa

acrylic on panel, 3.5 x 5"

Have you ever noticed how a lot of pretty flowers have names that sound like diseases? This is one that always seems to me to be unfortunately named-- 'scabiosa'-- though it's sometimes also referred to as Pincushion Flower. (The blossom in this painting is a not fully opened bud.)

The flowers come in shades of lavender, blu-ish, pink-ish, cream, and even burgundy, though the one I most commonly see by far is the lavender.

Super hardy, this plant blooms away from February or so through frost here in Northern California. (I do deadhead it to keep it going.) Mine also sends out little 'plantlets' around the edges, in a widening clump and I move these around the yard, so it's always gaining more ground. I believe it reseeds fairly freely too.

And yes, bees are always visiting the flowers.

bee on scabiosa in our garden

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Waggle Dance of the honeybees

One of the fascinating things I've learned about this year (or relearned, most likely) is how a foraging honeybee who has found a good nectar source communicates the location of those flowers to the other bees back at the hive. Turns out they communicate distance & direction by doing a 'waggle dance' in a figure eight formation, that even calculates for the changing position of the sun.

One of the things this has led me to think about is: somewhere there are bees dancing about my garden!
And: where are those hives where 'my' bees live?  In posts to come, I'll be looking into some of these.

Much more information exist over on this handy wikipedia page.

Monday, July 4, 2011

painting: bee on Spanish lavender

honeybee on spanish lavender  SOLD
Four of the first bee paintings I did this spring were of bees on Spanish lavender (aka lavandula stoechas). Our plants were constantly covered in bees while they were in bloom in April. I call Spanish lavender the 'one with the rabbit ears'-- referring to the violet petals at the top-- which distinguish it from the more commonly known English lavender.  Whichever kind-- bees seem to be uniformly enthusiastic about lavenders.

We're lucky to live in the Mediterranean climate where these fragrant plants thrive. One place nearby where I love to visit in true peak lavender season, which seems to be right about NOW (I think it's a little late this year due to a prolonged rainy season) is the Matanzas Creek Winery in Santa Rosa. I've posted pictures of the gardens there almost every time I've visited, over on my Garden Blog, in 2007, 2008, & 2010.  Definitely worth a visit for lovers of bees, gardens-- oh, and of course wine...
at Matanzas Creek
bees on Spanish lavender