Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Mosaic Monday - Ellis Bird Farm

I spent the day with my sister for our birthday last week.  We visited the Ellis Bird Farm where we took photos, had lunch, tea and ice cream dessert.  The weather was good with a bit of wind to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Birds of many species call the farm home.  I took a photo of this American Goldfinch as he was eating at a bird feeder just outside the window where we had lunch.  He was chomping on sunflower seeds.  There were several feeders with a variety of seeds to attract different kinds of birds. 

Bee houses for wild bees were a new addition since my visit a couple years ago. 
About 300 species call Alberta home, and honeybees, which are native to Europe, aren’t one of them. Most of our bees, unlike honey and bumblebees, are solitary. We have leaf-cutting bees which slice circles out of leaves, sweat bees which are drawn to the salt on our brow, and mining bees which burrow into the ground like gophers. Like bumblebees, solitary bees are passive and won’t sting unless their life is threatened. They lay their eggs in holes no wider than a centimeter in diameter. Finding these holes is the tricky part, with the bees looking to rotten logs, cracks in old buildings, or even hollowed out reeds and raspberry canes.  It is very easy to build a bee house to provide shelter for these pollinators which make much of our food possible.

I researched a bit about building bee houses. 
  • Plan to place the hotel off the ground and facing east or southeast so it gets the morning sun and shelter from prevailing winds and rain. 
  • Don’t locate it next to doorways or along well-traveled paths where you and bees can disturb each other. 
  • Tuck them in a spot of the yard where you’ll visit but not where you live outdoors.
    Put it in a spot where you’re not going to move it. Bees navigate by landmarks and moving their hotel can be very confusing for them.
  • If you use cardboard tubes for holes, make sure to replace them every spring. If you’re using wood materials, you’ll want to change them out when they fill up with bee leftovers.
We had a great lunch.  We planned for a late lunch which was a good idea because at the lunch hour the Tea House was full with a seniors group who traveled by bus to visit the farm.  The guide was saying that their tour schedule is open for registration in January and in a week all their spots are full. I had butternut squash filled pasta with shrimp which was excellent and my sister had spinach salad with chicken. Ice cream was our choice for dessert but favorite Maple Walnut was not available.  The waitress suggested Algonquin Canoe Ice Cream which had the maple flavor with caramel filled chocolate canoes.  It hit the spot.

Tree Swallows were around in great numbers.  I took this photo of a couple having a squabble on the fence near the pen where the goats were housed.  Sure looks like he had a lot to say.

The farm has many flowers on the property.  I took this photo of a yellow flower with the bee busy pollinating.  There were pansies, roses, iris, and a bunch more I did not identify.

Bird houses are everywhere on the property.  They have been built by local supporters as well as builders from across the world.  Many were occupied so every once in a while a head would pop out.  There were bird house condos as well which had been painted in red and white for Canada's 150th Year Celebration.

It was a great day.  Sharing with Mosaic Monday #45 hosted by Maggie at Normandy Life.


  1. Thanks so much for the information about bee houses - I will definitely give this a try!

  2. Your bird photos are fabulous. And the bee houses are interesting -- this is something of which I know very, very little.

  3. What a fascinating place to visit and to celebrate your birthday, the food sounds delicious and what a show there was to watch outside the window.
    Sending belated Happy Birthday wishes from Normandy.

  4. Happy Birthday! Looks like the perfect place to celebrate and spend the day with your sister. Hope you were both getting along better than those Swallows! heehee! How funny. Hugs!


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