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All Abuzz

Things are hoppin’ here at the House of Squash, both literally and figuratively!

Whole lotta statements landed on me this week, so I can announce a whomping 46,000 copies of Ninja Frogs sold, as of January 31st, and 31,000 of Were-Wiener,  which is awesome, because that’s nearly as many Ninja as Dragonbreath One, despite coming out almost a year later, so people who bought book one are apparently going out and buying Ninja in great numbers—and Were-Wiener’s on track to catch up in a hurry, despite Ninja’s eight month lead-time.

Kid’s books, as we’ve talked about before, are very different than any other subgroup, in that the first couple of months is not necessarily the primary sales time–Dragonbreath actually did nearly double the sales in the second period it was out as it did in the first. In this case, being that it’s a series, it’s likely that while it will trend down over time, it will still continue to sell as long as the series keeps coming out.

In the garden, other things are hopping…

I'm a skipper of some sort!

and apparently it’s a brood year…

You have such lovely eyes...

The frogs are calling loudly in the pond out back, and I caught two embracing fervently out front so perhaps we will see tadpolage after all.

I am getting perturbed, however—the dragonflies are out, there are plenty of small flies and skippers and big swallowtails, the hummingbirds have taken up residence…but man, the bees this year are worse than ever. We had the big mason bees out earlier, but now it’s dead as a doornail—I’ve seen maybe two bumblebees out at a time, fumbling at the foamflower or climbing the catmint. (I have vast quantities of catmint, in full flower, and it’s like a mortuary. Those things ought to be CRAWLING right now. And the purple sage might as well be a sculpture of a flower.)

I’m actually cheering for solitary wasps, now, because they’re the pollinators actually OUT. Never thought I’d see the day I’d be happy for wasps, but bugger if I want to be out there pollinating the peas with a paintbrush.

It’s one thing to hear that pollinators are in trouble—it’s another to watch the native bee populations you’re used to seeing be almost completely absent.  My only hope is that they’re all out front on the blackberry, which is flowering like mad right now, or that the hard late winter is responsible, and they’ll rebound next spring. Seriously, thought, it’s like a frickin’ Rachel Carson book out there, and it’s kinda givin’ me the willies.

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.

Have you thought about getting a beehive?

I'm in SC now, and a couple of weeks ago I had quite a few bumblebees, now nothing. But I've still got the occasional wasp, and a ton of grasshoppers all of a sudden.

that what i was about to post. I have a friend who talked a local bee keeper into putting a hive on her back property so that her apple trees would get some help, last year she had a pathetic harvest because there were NO bees. the keeper was really excited to do it. you might want to check around i bet you could find someone.

Are you sure you're not a nature photographer?

What's the buzz? Tell me what's a-happenin'.

Why should I want to know?

Neil Gaiman had mentioned in his journal that a lot of his hives died this winter as it got too cold, hopefully they'll rebound later...

Awesome news about sales though! That is just fantastic!

I believe Brood XIX ('The Great Southern Brood*') is emerging this summer, or so NPR mentioned. Yay!

* 'The Great Southern Brood' sounds like either a lost William Faulkner collection or a Judy Blume story set in Atlanta.

*shudders and weeps.*

No yay. The noise, oh, the constant, horrible, relentless, maddening noise... one or two are livable but annoying. More than five become wearisome very quickly. More than twenty shatter the peace, make it hard to concentrate and impossible to sleep, and they have a propensity for making their way inside houses through any little chink, where they assuredly do not make pleasant guests. And, to add insult to injury, they smell. Given a choice of roaches or cicadas, I'd find it hard to choose. Cicadas die more quickly, but roaches shut up, y'know?

I noticed that at my local library branch, they'd started stocking two copies (or at least two were on the shelves) of Ninjabreath and Were-wiener. And that's just in that one branch. I dunno how well library sales map to general sales, but I'm inclined to think that any book they want two copies of in a single branch, they're expecting a lot of check-outs on.

It depends on the size of the branch---a huge regional might routinely stock more than one copy of lots of things, but if your small neighborhood branch is buying multiples? Serious. Even more serious is if they just . . . disappear. There are some items in our library system where just about every copy shows checked out and never returned, or simply missing. Or it says it's on the shelf and when you check, it isn't. Theft as a form of flattery, I suppose.


I have to admit that we were reduced to slaying the carpenter bee that had drilled half a dozen holes in our house and refused to be discouraged into going somewhere else (like the lot full of trees we're in? sigh). Big sucker, too.

But they're harmless and curious and adorable! And they chase off red wasps! Noooooo! :(

I saw a whole set of the books at Fry's (grocery) book/magazine section - they had them face-out on a rotating rack. Cool, huh?

Cicadiaville used to be a site about how cicadas eat small children and reproduce by implanting eggs beneath the skin. Showed a picture of them being about the size of a toddler.

The site's been taken down now.
A shame, because some of the professors would use it to show that you can't trust everything you find on the web.

I was wondering about the bees. We haven't had many here at all this year, other than the one that's super-possessive of my back porch (I guess he's a carpenter bee, he's freaking huge). Even the hornets that live in the boxwood every year are absent.
The tree frogs are out in full force however!

You have treefrogs?! How awesome!!!

It would be interesting to see you take up bee-keeping.

We've thought about it, but I'm honestly hoping to get the native bee population up--I'm all for honeybees, but they require, y'know, WORK, and the natives take care of themselves with only minimal input.

I didn't think bumblebees were affected by the ongoing hive collapses - so I'll go with the cold winter theory. Out here in CA I see a bunch of bees now, but I haven't really looked to see if there are as many as last year.

Sadly, bumblebees are apparently getting hit with the fungus? Mites? one of those, which is being spread by the honeybees, or so I think I've read...

I've heard it's quite easy to provide bumble bees with shelter, I haven't tried it myself though. This seems to be a good place to start: http://www.bumblebee.org/helpbees.htm

I think it's sort of odd that, while CCD is a real illness with beehives, suddenly lots of people here in Kansas are noticing swarms of bees in their trees, on cars, and in various other odd places. I sort of wonder if some of the domestic hives go off and start new hives....

On a completely different note; have you ever seen willow sculpture?
Someone suggested googling it on another LJ page today, and I've been captivated ever since.
Especially since we've talked for several years about building a retainer wall at the lake out of bags of Quickcrete, and one website shows how to make a woven lattice wall of willow branches, and if you stick these in the ground in late fall, they will actually sprout and you will have a growing green hedge in the spring! The roots form a dense mat, and will do a great job of preventing soil erosion.

Lovely photos.

And while we had more honeybees in our yard in Florida than I'm comfortable with--good lord, seeing them literally coat the inside of a tree was awesome--I share your trepidation and sorrow over what's happening to the pollinators.