Last week's well-above normal temperatures sped up the spring timetable. We sat on our east-facing deck in the early evenings as birds went about their busy lives. A pair of phoebes perched in the crabapple--the crooked one that I sculpted with the pruning loppers. The tree is a perfect perch for the phoebes as it grows only 15 feet from the deck, where they nest each year.
Meanwhile on the south-facing side of the house, where the sun warms the gable ends, carpenter bees were busy all week. The overwintering adults emerged from their excavated tunnels, mated, and set about nesting and laying eggs. On the driveway below, the dead males were piling up, while the females excavated each chamber, deposited an egg, supplied it with "bee bread" (a mixture of pollen and nectar), and then plugged it with a wad of sawdust.
Carpenter bees and bumble bees resemble each other; both are native bees and important pollinators. The carpenter bee has a shiny black abdomen, while bumblebees have hairy abdomens. They differ in their habits as well. Bumblebees nest in the ground and are more social. The carpenter bee, as its name suggests, nests in wood, such as under the eaves of our house. The male carpenter bee buzzes and hovers and sounds and looks menacing as it patrols its territory, but it is harmless as it has no stinger. Here is a male carpenter bee lying dead on the driveway, with a yellow patch on its forehead; females have no color patch.
This morning I woke to the soothing sound of rain drops. The air and soil felt parched last week with several days in a row in the mid-80s. The rain was welcome as are the cooler temperatures for the coming week. At a glance the woodlands are already showing their late spring colors: the reds of the red maple flowers, snow white magnolia flowers, sunny yellow forsythia and spicebush in full bloom, and the soft green of woodland shrubs beginning their leaf-out.
We have to remind ourselves that it is still too early to plant in the garden, although the weeding has already begun as the unwanted plants seem to flourish everywhere that I don't want them. For a change I am glad to see the clouds, to feel the raindrops on my face and the coolness of the air.