Bee water pool

Like any creatures, bees get thirsty. So they have to get water from somewhere, for themselves and their hive. They also use water to control the humidity of the hive, as part of the process of making honey.

We have a big pond they can drink from, but it’s easy for bees to drown if they’re not careful. We also have a stream, and in summer a swimming pool, but those aren’t ideal water sources either (Jenn has rescued several bees from the pool when swimming).

So we also have a small kiddie pool that has rocks in it to act as safe landing zones for the bees. It is by the closest tap to the hives, near the greenhouse. Bees will fly for miles to find water, but if they have a ready source close to the hive, they don’t need to go to less ideal places.

The pool was immediately below the tap, but that made it hard to turn it on to top up the pool, when lots of bees are buzzing around. So I recently added a splitter and a couple of short hoses; one going into the pool, which can now be a bit further away, and another for use when working in the greenhouse (until I get around to adding taps in there):

Hoses and bee water pool

I also added a couple of bits of wood as additional landing pads for the bees:

Bee water pool

As a temporary thing, I set up the mobile cam above the pool, so I could watch the bees using it, just for fun. In the above picture, you can see the beehives and greenhouse in the background, to give a better idea of the location.

One interesting observation was that birds and cats also take advantage of the water source. Here’s a crow drinking from the bee pool:

Bird drinking from bee water pool

A cat drinking:

Cat drinking from bee water pool

Bees drinking from the pool; notice some on the wood, some around the edge, and a bunch on the rocks:

Bees drinking from bee water pool

If I zoom in on the pile of rocks, you can more clearly see lots of bees:

Zoom on bees

A crow drinking again; it doesn’t care about the bees:

Bird drinking from bee water pool

Another cat:

Cat drinking from bee water pool

The crow decided to walk across the platforms, somewhat unsuccessfully:

Bird walking in bee water pool

Cat update for week ending May 11

Welcome to another Caturday.

A good yawn:

Good yawn

Four cats:

Four cats

Big stretch:

Stretch

Dinner greetings:

Dinner greetings

An alien cat:

Alien cat

Three cats; eyes in the dark:

Three cats

Breakfast:

Breakfast

A scrub jay helping itself to cat food, several times:

Bird

Pepper contemplating her water dish in the shop:

Pepper in the shop

The scrub jay returns:

Bird

I currently have the mobile camera watching the small pond next to the cat house, as it recently had a leak where water was overflowing the liner of the stream, causing the water level to go down quickly. The camera was so I could see when it was low and top it up. I’ve since fixed the leak, but have left the camera there for now. It captured a cat drinking from that pond:

Cat drinking from pond

They have a water dispenser in the feeder area, but I’m sure pond water is tastier. Here’s the cat looking through the grasses:

Cat by pond

Pond pump tweak

A quick pond update.

The pond pump fell (or was pushed) over again, so again I waded into the pond to right it. This time, I moved it from the lightweight plastic pot it was in into a heavier ceramic one, with some rocks for extra weight:

Pond pump

Here it is in position:

Pond pump

I waded deeper in the pond to clear out some floating debris. It’s hard to tell from the camera, but I’m only about halfway back; it gets much deeper in the back half:

David in pond

We saw the smaller fish this week; great to see lots of little ones. Only a few visible in this picture, but there are many more. They’re about two years old:

Fish

The heron visited again early this morning, and wandered around for about two hours, but didn’t seem to catch anything this time (the streaks in this picture are motion-blurred raindrops):

Heron

Cat update for week ending March 23

There have been regular visits by raccoons and possums, but nothing too dramatic, so I’m not including any pictures of them this time.

Four cats inside the shelter:

Four cats inside shelter

A queue waiting for more breakfast to be dispensed:

Waiting for breakfast

A brave/stupid jay in the cat feeder:

Bird in cat feeder

Three cats:

Three cats

The front shop cat, Pepper, sitting by the duck house:

Shop cat

Two cats in the shelter:

Two cats

Very relaxed cats:

Two cats

Another joins them:

Three cats

A very Poppy face at the water dish, with Porcini relaxing on the ground:

Three cats

Poppy is the mother of the kittens, but she can still be kitten-like at times:

Psycho cat

Too close!

Up close

Cat snuggles:

Cat snuggles

Two cats climbing the tree next to the cat house.  I removed the heated water dish, now that it’s getting warmer; we probably won’t be below freezing again:

Climbing tree

A sequence of three images of jumping down from the roof:

Jumping down

Jumping down

Jumping down

Poppy greets her kids:

Three cats

I saw a new alien cat when reviewing the footage this morning; I don’t think I’ve seen this one before:

New alien cat

Finally, Spud came and stared at me in the office, from the front steps:

Cat on steps

Heron, raccoon, and me in the pond

Some pictures from the big pond.

I recently added a camera that has a view of the pond, in anticipation of having ducks there. It has been interesting to see some of the wildlife that visits the pond.

Apparently raccoons can swim:

Swimming raccoon

We were pretty sure that herons visited the pond, but hadn’t seen one till a couple of days ago, when it was captured via the camera. Here’s a heron landing:

Heron landing

And strolling around in the shallow part of the pond:

Heron in pond

The heron visited again that night; I didn’t realize they were nocturnal hunters too. Here it has a frog, which it ate (sorry about the spiderweb in front of the camera):

Heron with frog

Yesterday I waded into the pond and righted the fountain pump, which had fallen (or was pushed) over, and switched it on:

David in pond

The fountain helps aerate the water. We also have a waterfall and stream, but that tends to make the pond level drop, so we usually don’t have it active.

Here’s the fountain pump:

Pond pump

I noticed one of the water lily baskets on its side, so righted that too, and found several sacs of salamander eggs on it. Interesting how the stalks were trying to compensate for being on its side, too:

Salamander eggs

Here’s a salamander:

Salamander

The pond level was low, so I also turned on the water to the pond taps, and turned on the tap to top up the pond:

Filling pond

Cat update for week ending March 2

Some interesting encounters this week at the cat house.

But first, a couple of cats looking out of the shelter; I enjoy the eyes in the window:

Cats looking out of shelter

Cats snuggling:

Cats snuggling

Yet more snow:

Snow

A pile of all five cats in the shelter:

Cats in the shelter

A couple of cats watching a raccoon:

Cats watching raccoon

A “SLOW, WATCH FOR FERALS” sign in the driveway, flecked with snow:

Slow, watch for ferals sign

Snow:

Snow

A cat with snow on their back:

Snowy cat

Did you watch the video on YouTube of cats playing in the snow?

Another raccoon encounter.  This time Poppy had enough, and went out of the shelter to hiss and swipe at the raccoon, and then retreat back to the safety of the shelter:

Raccoon encounter

Another cat then ran up from behind the shelter and did the same from the other side:

Raccoon encounter

A screenshot of my iPad, showing cats in all four cameras:

Screenshot

A Steller’s jay bird flying in for a drink from the heated water dish:

Bird

A cat climbing the tree next to the shelter:

Cat climbing tree

Another raccoon visit, watched by a couple of cats:

Raccoon

The alien orange cat visited a couple of times:

Orange cat

The reverse angle:

Orange cat

Cat snuggles:

Cat snuggles

A cat watching a deer:

Deer

Pepper the shop cat watches a moth flying by:

Shop cat & moth

Pansy, the other shop cat, reaching for some food:

Shop cat

Three cats playing on the driveway:

Cats on driveway

The alien orange cat came back again early this morning:

Orange cat encounter

The cats inside quickly evacuated:

Orange cat encounter

The orange cat went inside the shelter, and Poppy followed and expressed her displeasure at the invasion:

Orange cat encounter

There was much hissing and growling, culminating in a little swiping and rapid exiting:

Orange cat encounter

But let’s end with more snuggles:

Cat snuggles

Cat update for week ending February 16

We start this Caturday with some lingering snow, and a cat peeking out of the shelter:

Cat peeking out of shelter at snow

The cats have been somewhat absent during the day this week, though did show up for food, and occasionally spent a night in the shelter.  Here are all five cats in there:

All five cats inside shelter

Birds in the snow:

Birds in the snow

A bird on the heated water dish:

Bird on heated water dish

I set up the old automatic feeder in the back of the shop, so I can eventually control the amount of food Pansy eats, since she’s somewhat overweight. Initially I had both feeders there, so Pepper still ate back there. A few days later, I moved the manual feeder and a new water dispenser to the front of the shop, where Pepper lives. So this is probably the last time we’ll see Pepper in the back:

Cat in the shop

I’ve got some new cameras for the chickens and ducks, so will move the old camera from the old chicken coop to the front of the shop, to watch Pepper’s food. Probably more on that next week.

Here’s Pansy, eating from the auto-feeder. Currently it is dispensing too much food, but I’ll slowly reduce the quantity to match the level she eats, then a little less over time:

Cat in the shop

Back outside, here’s a cat drinking from the heated water dish, while another eats their dinner. This is the last of the snow, too:

Cat drinking from heated water dish

A cat having a good stretch against a tree:

Cat stretching

Dinner queue. I don’t usually show pictures from this time of night, since the contrast between the darkening outside and the lighted feeder area doesn’t work that well in pictures, but hey, something different:

Dinner queue

The theory with the feeder light was that a bright light would deter the possums and raccoons, since they can’t see in that brightness… but they just feel around for the food, so that didn’t work. I suppose I could turn the light off, but I haven’t; it might help a little, perhaps, and makes it easier to see things via the camera in there.

Two cats on the deck after dark:

Two cats on deck

A cat eating, when a raccoon turns up outside. The cat kept eating, then quickly evacuated when the raccoon got closer (there was no food left):

Cat eating, raccoon outside

I think this is the first time I’ve seen a rabbit on the camera:

Rabbit

Three cats waiting for breakfast:

Cats waiting for breakfast

The breakfast rush:

Breakfast rush

Four cats:

Four cats

Finally, some disappointed alien visitors. A small possum:

Possum

An orange cat:

Alien cat

A bigger possum:

Possum

A raccoon:

Raccoon

Cat update for week ending February 9

It’s a snowy Caturday!

We got a trace of snow last Sunday.  The area around the cat house is somewhat sheltered by trees:

Cat with trace snow

Looking across the small pond to the cat house, with a dusting of snow:

Cat house across the small pond

Lots of cat footprints in the snow on the path to the cat house:

Cat footprints

Another angle of the cat house through snow-covered branches:

Cat house with snow

A view from the driveway through the fountain garden, with the cat house visible through the trees in the middle:

Snowy landscape

Some snowflakes on a cat in the feeder:

Snow on cat

More snow overnight:

Cat in snow

A bird making poor life choices, snacking in the cat feeder; fortunately for it, nobody was home at the time (I do have bird feeders too):

Bird in feeder

Porcini looking from feeder:

Cat looking from feeder

Pommie with her tongue out, drinking from the heated water dish, about the only non-frozen water available:

Cat with tongue out

Cat tracks in the snow across the driveway:

Cat tracks in snow

The cat house with lots of cat footprints out front:

Cat house with cat tracks

The side of the cat house, through snowy trees:

Side of cat house

A cat on the front path, watching me:

Cat on front path

Just for fun, I made a couple of very rough mini-snowmen by the cat house.  Here a cat is poking at one:

Cat poking snowman

A rare sighting of a cat-head snowman:

Cat head above snowman

Three cats:

Three cats

Five cats toasty inside the heated shelter overnight. That makes me happy:

Five cats inside shelter

We had more snow overnight:

Cat in snow

Likely more snow on the way over the next few days, so there will probably be more snowy cat photos next week. Stay warm out there!

Hummingbird feeder heater

With the sub-freezing temperatures recently, I have hooked up my hummingbird feeder heater, so the hummers have some non-frozen sugar water to drink.

This consists of four parts: a thermostatically controlled outlet, a small waterproof heating pad, paperclips to attach to the feeder, and an extension cord to connect the outlet to the heater.

Here’s the thermo outlet, that switches on the power when the temperature drops below 35°F, and off when above 45°F, so the heater is only on when it’s cold enough to need it:

Thermal power outlet

And the heating pad, originally designed to heat engine blocks, held below the hummingbird feeder by paperclips:

Hummingbird feeder with heating pad

The heating pad gets really hot, enough to keep the sugar water liquid. I use the clips to avoid melting the plastic base of the feeder.

Here’s another angle:

Hummingbird feeder with heating pad

A customer on the feeder:

Hummingbird on heated feeder

It’s a bit of a hack, but it works really well.