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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Bird and Bees

A Honey Bee with leg sacks filled with pollen.

A Honey Bee landing on an apple blossom.

Our backyard goldfinch.

Considering whether I might be getting a little to close for his comfort.

Its that time of year when we see the songbirds warming their eggs and feeding on the thistle seed feeder. Its also that time of year when the honey bees pollinate and gather nectar from the apple trees in the orchard.

Its a delicate balance, nurturing songbirds in the back yard and keeping sled dogs. There are times during the late spring when the dogs are confined to the smaller play area with no trees while the hundreds of birds in the tree-filled area have time to raise their babies and get them on their way. There's nothing better to a sled dog than a nice snack of tender baby bird. Not only does this affect the bird population but the dogs can get worms and other parasites from eating birds. We do what we can to maintain the balance.

Honey bees can also create issues with sled dogs. Last year at this time, we discovered that a great number of the honey bees had decided that the dog yard was a nice place to hang around. There were bees using the dogs' water buckets and just generally buzzing around. The more annoyed dogs would habitually snap at bees and get stung. We had record medical issues in the kennel last spring including one seizure and numerous bacterial infections. It couldn't be proven that the bees caused our medical issues, however after moving the hives a much further distance away from the kennels, we are finding no such issues and everyone appears to be living in harmony.

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