Pollinator Talk on Bees at Saratoga Springs Community Garden

Sunday, June 2, 2019, Wesley Retirement Community.
Published at: https://butterflywomanpublishing.weebly.com/

Photo: Community Garden  Carpenter bee, common eastern bumblebee, Mary Ellen Ryall, Mason bee, Perdita bee, Squash bee, Susan Philbin, Tri- color bumblebee 

The Saratoga Springs Community Garden located on a 36-acre campus, hosted a bee themed party for gardeners. Mary Ellen Ryall, an environmental educator, spoke on the variety of bees that frequent the garden in Upstate New York. Susan Philbin, a garden organizer, and volunteer arranged the garden event.

The concern is that worldwide pollinating bees are disappearing for several reasons. As many of us know, pesticides kill pollinators. With growth and development, loss of the natural world, corporate farms, fresh water sources disappearing, woodlands being clearcut for building and construction, and overpopulation on top of everything else is having a damaging effect on pollinators. Ryall spoke about the benefit of a community that grows its local food. By using organic gardening methods and planting native flowers to attract pollinators, the Wesley Retirement Community can keep a sustainable landscape.

Ryall introduced the attendees to local bees. The tiniest bee in the world is the Perdita bee, also known as “lost one.” The Perdita is only 2-10 mm and can only fly a short distance. Usually, the Perdita makes its home in the garden soil around a plant it favors. One attendee thought the tiny bee was a sweat bee, but a sweat bee has a green head on a small body. To learn more about Perdita bees, visit Bug Guide at http://bugguide.net/node/view/52624

The bumblebee is one of the most common. Photo: Chi bees in Saratoga Springs, New York, but native bees are in decline. Two species of native bees imperiled on the Red List: Rusty patch bumble bee and the Yellow-banded bumble bee in New York. The Franklin bumble bee is already extinct. One of the prettiest bumbles is the tri-color bumble bee (Bombus ternarius). The photo shows the bumble obtaining nectar from a goldenrod plant. We should mourn when a species is lost, the way the world is going what species is next? It is imperative that we protect pollinators from all the dangers that are killing them. To learn more visit https://xerces.org/pollinator-redlist/.

Buzzing bumble bees are best at pollinating tomato, potato, and other plants in the nightshade family. The bee attaches its jaw to a flower and vibrates its wings to release pollen — source: The Washington Post, Bumblebee decline.

Did you know that flowers can sense buzzing bees? National Geographic came out with a story in 2019 by scientific researcher Lilach Hadany. A flower that hears a buzzing bee will increase its sugar from 12-17 percent to encourage the bumblebee to visit the flower. Learn more at https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/01/flowers-can-hear-bees-and-make-their-nectar-sweeter/

The solitary Mason bee lives in tree holes. A perfect bee house is a bamboo stem. Photo: Mason bee house made from bamboo stems and an old hose. Another bamboo house is near the Wesley woodlands. We want to encourage bees at a distance to come and visit our gardens.

The native squash has its very own specialized bumblebee.

Keep your family healthy, plant an organic garden, and invite pollinators to be your friend. They perform a remarkable service and all for free.



The air felt like an early fall morning. The sky was soft on inhaling the breathable, invisible substance of life. Walking sticks, a large brim hat adorned with dark blue tie-dye scarf, and sandals on my feet, I explored the morning. The Blue Jays called out a warning. Were they telling each other, watch out the crows are coming? And, that was the next sound that filled the sky. Beneath my feet, dew beads glistened on the underside of grass. The silent brown rabbit was still and huddled in the tall field grass being present.

I don’t need anything else to make the morning perfect. A reflection in prayer is sight, sound, and beauty. May you know the joy of nature where you walk in gratitude. Photo copyright Google Images

The Garden is Rich by Chinook Psalter

Pastor Melissa O’Brien posted this wonderful prayer on her Website for The Peru Church at https://www.theperuchurch.org/sunday-gathering

The garden is rich with diversity
With plants of a hundred families
In the space between the trees
With all the colours and fragrances.
Basil, mint and lavender,

Great Mystery keep my remembrance pure,
Raspberry, Apple, Rose,

Great Mystery fill my heart with love,
Dill, anise, tansy,

Holy winds blow in me.
Rhododendron, zinnia,

May my prayer be beautiful
May my remembrance O Great Mystery
be as incense to thee
In the sacred grove of eternity

As I smell and remember
The ancient forests of earth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA copyright Mary Ellen Ryall

In The Garden

June 22, 2020 – In the early morning at 7 AM, at the Saratoga Community Garden (SCG), there were six wild canaries (yellow Goldfinches) perching on flower stems in the cut flower garden. They ate seeds from the corn flowers (Bachelor buttons.) Maybe they wanted to fill up early because it is going to be 90 degrees F. today. Birds need to find refuge when it is hot out. Also, a European honey bee zoomed in for nectar at the Herb Bed. Goldfinch photo state bird of Iowa copyright QUORA.

Then I walked over to the Woodland Pollinator Garden, on the edge of the woodlands. I spotted a small butterfly, dark with white markings on its wing. It was the small Silver-spotted Skipper. Copyright Jeffrey Glassberg, NABA.

European honey bee copyright unknown

I don’t expect much activity of pollinators this week in the heat that is upon us. One thing I do know, we need to keep small shallow water dishes out for smaller insects, such as bees and butterflies. All creatures need water. There is an active birdbath in the Saratoga Community Garden, but a deep birdbath is too deep for the littlest of beings.

Our Injustice Eyes are Opening

A poem, a prayer of the heart, is significant because my eyes are open, which is why I speak. I watched the inhumane news about a black man, George Floyd, treated as less than a human. He was suffering as he was dying on the cold pavement, at the hands of police officers. His cries were unheaded. It was at that moment, as he died, that I realized the injustice to Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, and anyone else that I haven’t mentioned. I knew it was going on, but this was the catalyst of change. We are still living the reality of Colonialism. White America is just living along with no thought of suffering humanity.

It is 2020, have we not come any further? There is no excuse now. I hope others like me, white and privileged to live in security, heard the cries spilled on the street. I hope our eyes are open to Americans being prejudice. 

Perhaps the Global Pandemic came to teach us that we need to awaken and change our behavior towards others that are not like us. No one should be beneath us. I could cry with the agony I feel for that poor man who died at the hands of injustice. I couldn’t say it any better. Here is a poem by Maya Angelou. The Poem was posted by Pastor Melissa O’Brien, at The Peru Church, Wednesday Prayer Service at https://www.theperuchurch.org

Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

My wish for you

Is that you continue


To be who and how you are

To astonish a mean world

With your acts of kindness


To allow humor to lighten the burden

Of your tender heart


In a society dark with cruelty

To let the people hear the grandeur

Of God in the peals of your laughter


To let your eloquence

Elevate the people to heights

They had only imagined


To remind the people that

Each is as good as the other

And that no one is beneath

Nor above you


To remember your own young years

And look with favor upon the lost

And the least and the lonely


To put the mantel of your protection

Around the bodies of

The young and defenseless


To take the hand of the despised

And diseased and walk proudly with them

In the high street

Some might see you and

Be encouraged to do likewise


To plant a public kiss of concern

On the cheek of the sick

And the aged and infirm

And count that as a

Natural action to be expected


To let gratitude be the pillow

Upon which you kneel to

Say your nightly prayer.

The video is graphic and disturbing. The reality of George Floyd losing his life is even more disturbing. Learn more at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/us/minneapolis-police-man-died.html

You feeling this too?

I like Lara’s writing and deep thoughts. I think the world needed resetting. Only mother nature can stop the madness we were headed to. Now everything is on hold. I find this new space tranquil. I am doing handiwork again after 50 years. I am planting a Victory Garden of native plants and crops such as potatoes. Setting the seed potatoes out tomorrow. I finally have enough time for me at 75 years of age. Be grateful we are slowed down in our tracks. We were going nowhere anyway, even if it felt like we were on Top of the World in a New York Minute. Now we are one with nature and it is sustainable. Be Grateful that this time was chosen so each of us might know silence and meditation.

Ajuga reptans – Bugle

The low growing herb has periwinkle blue to violet colored flowers growing in the shape of a hooded flower with open lip petal that grows on a head. The stem is square. Leaves are opposite and can be mostly oval or lance shaped. This afternoon while facing the small rock wall I placed in front of the wild pollinator garden, I saw her pressed up against the rocks. Did she know I had been looking for her? There the little beauty beamed right in front of the garden set against a large grey stone.

Bugle, an alien, a flower brought from another country.

Eating on the Wild Side

Recently I saw a recipe for pasta with chickpeas, tomato, and spinach. Instead of spinach, I added dandelion leaves. With a dandelion digger and carrying an aluminum chair to the flowering dandelion field, I dug up roots and leaves. The common bumblebee and European honeybee were at play in the field, gathering nectar, from the first flowers of spring.

At home, the flowers were placed in a container to enjoy for a day before they faded. The roots were separated for drying for winter medicinal tea. The leaves were chopped and fried in garlic olive oil that I made a while back. Talk about good.

The Global Pandemic reminds me to return to my roots in herbalism, environmental education, master gardening, and wild foraging. I love returning to my roots. Thank you, Mother Nature, who provides for us.

Old White Pine

I look out my dining window and see a once stunning old white pine. Since I moved back home to Saratoga Springs, New York, in 2014, I have watched the tree covered in snow and showing like ermine with laden boughs. I love the tree. It keeps me company and reminds me to pray for trees and the Green Nation. 

The last few years have been hard on the old white pine. Fellow deciduous trees that blocked the wind now stand empty because of blowdown storms. The old white pine stands on its own now being battered to and fro. This winter has been tough on the tree. Several large branches came down, and the tree is starting to look tattered. There are broken branches within the tree that are stuck and hang like broken arms.

The plan is that Wesley Retirement Community will take the tree down when it is ready to start building the new five-story senior apartment building. It won’t happen for a few years, but I am already mourning the loss of the old white pine. 

The underground landscape allowed puffball mushrooms to grow. Trees have a relationship to all that is alive below ground. The mycelium in the soil feeds the roots and keeps the tree healthy. Now the colony of trees is missing with the loss of last year’s trees. I wonder if this is weakening the old white pine?

I pray and give thanks for the old white pine that has kept me company for six years. I will miss the tree when it is gone. I dread what the view will be with a new building taking the tree’s place. Will the apartment I live in then look out at outside walls, or windows to make it worse. The apartment on the 5th floor will lose its northern view because I am on the 5th floor. And so it goes.

 The blessing in all this is that yesterday I found a small white pine seedling growing near the building in the deep mulch. The seedling would be the old white pine’s gift. I plan to replant it this spring near the woods with sun exposure. I am so grateful. I was that worried. Who knows if I will be in this apartment when the tree is cut down? Maybe I too will be gone. But at least a new generation of white pine will regenerate if all goes well.

I read The Overstory a book about trees, by Richard Powers. The text states, “For there is [the] hope of a tree, if it goes down, that it will sprout again, and its tender branches will not cease. Though the root grows old in the earth and the stock dies in the ground, at the scent of water, it will bud, and bring forth boughs. But man wastes away and dies and gives up the ghost, and where is he?

White Pine is a native tree in the eastern United States. Known for five needles.

Walk during the Pandemic

The 36-acre campus at Wesley Retirement Community is pretty safe from being crowded because it is private. Outsiders do walk here daily but are limited in numbers. Yesterday it was an older male with a white beard and his black dog. I avoided him by walking at least six feet away, as directed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). We did talk at a safe distance. He said he came over daily to visit his mother, who is in the Spring Nursing Care building, which was under lockdown because of the Coronavirus virus.

The gentleman called his mother on a cell phone to let her know he would be near her bedroom window shortly. There are four floors to the Spring Building. Administrative offices are on the first floor. It was a healing visit, and I was privileged to witness it. I, on the other hand, circled the Prayer Carn in the small park and said a decade of the rosary for those who are dying alone. May the dying be at peace and know they are walking on in peace and love. May they know they are not alone.

Woodland trail to habitat
Woodland trail to habitat


By Mary Ellen Ryall

Before the Coronavirus, I used to use paper towels to clean out kitchen sink scraps. I remember my grandmother using newspapers to clean up sink filters. She used newspapers also when peeling vegetables and fruit.

That is being thrifty when there is a paper crisis in the grocery stores. Adapting in little ways makes my mind slow down to earlier methods used by families across America in the good old days.

Are you starting to observe little meaningful ways to weather the Pandemic?

This week a refund check came in from the hospital. I thought, oh goody, now I can order that puppy statue I wanted. Then I thought again. The refund is going to a savings account where it will earn a pittance of interest. Money may get scarce, and I better hang on to mine.

After making too large a portion of mashed potatoes last evening, I wanted to recook them the next day. Years ago, a Peruvian woman used to stand outside the building where I worked, in Carmen de la Legua. She sold crisp potato balls filled with bits of vegetables and hot pepper. She offered hot sauce to go with it, and I loved the dish. Of course, I made a version of the potatoes this morning. Slowing down allows me to wander in my mind to earlier times and memories of food and days of when I was young.

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