Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Standing out in the crowd


Camera : Canon EOS 550D
Taken in my garden (Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa)
Nasturtium flower (Tropaeolum)

Sometimes I think we may feel that we have to do the big things in life to stand out from the crowd, but I think all you have to do is be yourself…. like this little nasturtium. All her brothers and sisters are either bright orange or yellow and yet, here she is – white with bright red flames, standing out in the crowd like a beacon of light.

Mother said stand up straight,
Don’t let your classmates make you feel like you don’t belong.
So you’re not like the rest of them,
someday the best of them, will realize they were wrong.
But in my world, different meant lonely,
the last place I wanted to be, was


And here are the rest of her brothers and sisters

 

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Starting over

How have you all been? Had a good Christmas and New Year? 2016 has been a year full of joys, blessings, surprises, heartaches, love, some successes and a few failures, but mostly it has been a year full of gratitude. Gratitude for the good rains we've had, gratitude for the birds in my garden and gratitude that I've managed another year of good health.
And now I welcome the New Year. May your 2017 be full of new things that have never been, a year full of colours, flowers, laughter and fresh new ideas!


Aloe ferox youngsters in my garden having survived another winter

Have you ever jumped the gun and then regretted it afterwards? Well, that's what happened to me! A couple of months ago we were in the process of selling our smallholding, something we've been thinking of for a couple of years now, planning retirement and all that, and apart from having to have a massive clean-up of all the stuff one accumulates over 38 years of living in one place, one of my biggest worries was all my succulents - those in the garden were OK, but I had dozens of succulents and cacti in pots and it was impossible for me to take all of them with me. After a short search I was lucky and blessed enough to find another succulent-lover who was thrilled to take all of them off my hands.

Now, here's the thing - the sale fell through! (Much to my relief, I must say, as in the process of selling we suddenly realised what we are leaving behind and we fell in love with our life and our smallholding all over again! One doesn't realise what you have until you lose it, or almost lose it, right?)

This new planting was just coming along nicely and the Aeoniums on the left were some of my favourites.

This Echeveria elegans was also just starting to flower for the first time in in about the 4 years I had it

Another first, this Haworthia cooperii var Transiensis was also pushing up it's first tiny little flowers

My only consolation is that I still have a few succulents and cacti left in the garden and it would be easy to take cuttings and start a new collection. But here's the question : do I want to start another potted collection again? At first, after they were all gone, I felt empty and lost, no daily routine of checking up on all of them, spotting new growth and new flowers and softly chatting to each and every one. All their small watering cans are standing empty, calling out for something to water.

But on the other hand, it's also very liberating to not constantly be worried about them and rushing outside to bring them under cover every time it starts hailing. So, for now, I'll be chatting to all my succulents and cacti in the ground in the garden, checking on them daily and giving them some special attention!



Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Where does it hurt?



As long as Man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

What does my South Africa look like?

 
My South Africa smells of rain, of dust, of sea spray as the waves pound the powdery beaches. My South Africa smells like fear as the antelope runs for his life. My South Africa is bright blue skies, warm sunshine and spring rains turning everything green. My South Africa is open spaces, an epic wilderness; a leopard tortoise ambling alongside the road, a go-away bird chirping its distinctive chant in the trees.







Image from Wildlife Den


My South Africa is all these things and more, so much more.


Saturday, 3 December 2016

Please don't hold me for long

(Postman butterfly - taken at Butterflies for Africa, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa)

...But if you ever hold me, please do not hold me for long... let me go where I belong... I will leave a beautiful silken touch of colour... not on your fingers, but on your soul
- Aarti Kurana

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

African Bee (Apis mellifera Scutellata)

African Honey Bee drinking water at my wildlife pond

We have two colonies of bees living on our smallholding and during summer my wildlife pond is a great attraction for them. Water is very important to a hive. Bees rarely store water, but bring it in as needed, so it is vital to provide fresh water to them continuously. They also use water to control the humidity of the colony, not just the temperature. Besides my pond, I have various containers around the garden for them. They’re a bit of a nightmare to photograph, don’t sit still for very long and even crawled up my phone a couple of times when I got too close! They are actually fearless little creatures, with no fear for their own safety, everything is done with the colony in mind.



South Africa is home to two sub-species or races of honeybees which are indigenous to the country: Apis mellifera Scutellata (or “African bee”) and Apis mellifera Capensis (or “Cape bee”). The Cape bee is generally confined to the western and southern Cape regions particularly referred to as the Fynbos region running in an imaginary line between Vredendal on the western Atlantic coastline across to Willowvale on the eastern Indian Ocean coastline. The African bee covers the region to the north of this area although there is hybrid zone overlapping the two regions where A.m. capensis and A.m. scutellata hybridize.

A couple of bees sipping water from the safety of a log placed in the pond

The African bee is an aggressive bee with a hardy strain and capable of producing large crops of honey. It has more of a yellow striped abdomen compared to A.m. capensis. Only the queens are fertile; worker bees are infertile when the queen is present. (Not to be confused with the Africanized honeybee (AHB) found across south, central, and north America).

The Cape bee tends to be a more docile bee (although can also become aggressive when provoked), distinguished from the African bee by a darker abdomen and are sometimes referred to as “black bees”. It has a unique characteristic in that the worker bees (females) have the ability to produce both male and female offspring and thus able to re-queen a colony which has become queenless.
—Info from SABIO (South African Bee Industry Organisation)

"HONEY BEES are not pests; they are a highly developed species of the animal world and contribute significantly to the sustainability of the eco-system in all areas – urban environment, farming areas and bush lands. In Africa alone there are an estimated 3000 species of bees and throughout the world some 20,000 different species.

Scutellata is the infamous “African Killer Bee” which is well known for its ferociousness and hard work. Its ferocity is ingrained from centuries of adapting to the harsh hot African sun, and constant irritation of robbing by vandals intent on stealing its plentiful supply of honey without regard to professional care and attention. A properly managed hive of African bees can be easily and meekly handled with the proper care, equipment and patience. It is these bees which have become notorious as the African Killer Bee in South America and southern North America after they were introduced from a Pretoria apiary for experimental breeding purposes.

Capensis was restricted naturally to the Western and Eastern Cape regions until unsuspecting and ambitious Western Cape Pollinators introduced them to the Transvaal region in the 1980’s. Cape Bees are unique in that the worker bees are able to reproduce their own kind through egg laying, whilst Scutellata does not do this. The Cape Bees are also invasive bees which roam and invade the more prolific and productive Scutellata hives where they take over and eventually destroy the Scutellata swarm. The introduction of the Capensis Bee into the Scutellata region created total havoc amongst the beekeeping industry in that region. A Scutellata hive with Cape Bees has to be destroyed to prevent the spread of the Cape Bees to other hives."
- This info from "Southerns Beekeeping Association"


Easy ways to give Honey Bees water
  1. Frisbee With Rocks - Put a frisbee full of clean rocks (find them in your yard) underneath a faucet outside, turn the faucet on so it drips once per minute. Over the day it will fill up and provide fresh water for the bees.
  2. Glass Pebbles - Most art stores have those bags of glass pebbles you can buy. Buy 1-2 bags of these pebbles and put them in a large (6 or more inches) but shallow container. Fill this with fresh water daily and place it near your garden or outside in a natural area of your yard. Bonus if you put some water-loving plants like cattails, water loving ferns, etc
  3. Birdbath - Take over the bird bath and decorate with twigs, rocks, pebbles, and wine corks. Add some green ferns or moss to add a bit of colour.
Bees use water for
  1. Cooling - In the heat of summer it is used for evaporative cooling. Similar to human-designed air conditions, the bees spread a thin film of water atop sealed brood (baby bee cells) or on the rims of cells containing larvae and eggs. The workers inside the hive then fan vigorously, setting up air flow which evaporated the water and cools the interior of the hive.
  2. Humidity - Worker bees use water to control the humidity of the colony, not just the temperature. 
  3. Utilise Stored Food - Bees need water to dilute stored honey that has crystallized (become too high in glucose) or in the case where a beekeeper feeds them dried sugar crystals, they need water to dissolve the sugar. Without water, they can't access these food sources.
  4. Larvae Food - Another type of bee in the hive is the nurse bee, who feeds the developing larvae. They consume large amounts of pollen, nectar, and water so that their hypopharyngeal glands can produce the jelly that is used to feed the larvae. A larvae diet can consist of water up to 80 percent the first day of larval growth and about 55 percent on the sixth day.
  5. Digestion - They need it in the digestion and metabolization of their food, as do most organisms.
(This info from Seedles)


For the past few months, the pond has been leaking badly, losing half its water in just a couple of days. So I stopped filling it every day and left it until it reached a level where the water wasn't dropping any more. You can see the line (brown area) just below the water where the leaking stopped. I then applied a few coats of eco-friendly pond sealer, waited a couple of days to let it dry and then re-filled the pond. It's not leaking much now, but I still have not totally stopped the leaking!  I still have to have a small amount of water flowing into the pond daily to keep it filled. At this point I'm giving up and waiting to see if it gets any worse. The leaking I mean. If it does, I have two options - empty the pond COMPLETELY and gunite it like a swimming pool or - close it up! That would be a disaster for all the water-loving birds I have in my garden as well as all the insects and other little reptiles living in the area.


The water lilies don't seem to have suffered any adverse effects from being exposed to the sun for a few days, and started flowering as soon as the pond was full again. The water looks lovely and crystal clear against the black back-drop of the sealer and it has enticed me a couple of times to take a plunge. Swimming with all the frogs and naiads (dragonfly larvae) is really exciting!


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Thursday, 27 October 2016

My artwork available as an App for iPhone and iPad

Do you ever wish you had MORE icons/emojis on your iPhone or iPad to use when messaging? Sick and tired of all the same old icons on your phone?

Well, finally, a dream come true! Some of my artwork is now available as an App of stickers for iPhone and iPad, to use with iMessage, available on the Apple iStore, developed by Donovan Crewe from Ballito, South Africa. Both my Apps have already been featured in the iStore, with one being considered for PROMOTION.

App for iPhone or iPad - Maree Clarkson Fine Art - Birds
All these images are also available as stickers from my RedBubble store. Individual slices of personality, totally unique and 400% awesome! Turn a boring laptop / notebook / otherwise plain surface into your own personal game farm with a selection of animal stickers. Finally you can have lions, giraffe, buffalo and wild dogs all hanging out together being bros!
If you take time to notice throughout your day, you will find that stickers are used for a tremendous number of reasons. Almost everywhere you look you’ll see stickers employed to decorate, advertise or communicate important information. Anyone trying to promote a business or organization should understand the usefulness of stickers in achieving their goals. Those who enjoy crafting and decorating will also love using stickers to brighten up and enhance any project, be it a photo album, a diary or journal or storage boxes, even Christmas gifts!
Stickers and labels will never go out of fashion -  When you want longevity but you haven’t got a blockbuster budget, stickers are the perfect vehicle to make sure your message really sticks around!  So if you're looking for that special sticker for a gift or to convey a special message, please feel free to visit my portfolio, where you will find a wide range to suit all tastes.
(Crow sketch done from "Midmarsh Jottings" beautiful photograph) 

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