I'm pleased to report that we are doing our part for the honeybee crisis (not to mention attracting other insect visitors), and that we've grown our own bird feeders! While I don't have pictures of the goldfinches in the sunflowers or the hummingbird that I finally saw today (having missed all but one of the previous sightings over the past two and a half years...but that's okay; until recently, only I ever saw the bat) near the red runner beans, here are a number of images of our recent insect visitors:
Zinnias, by the way, are a type of flower I knew nothing about until I saw some in a neighbor's yard last year. So we planted some this year, and they're beautiful! I really love them. Both zinnias and sunflowers have many more flowers than one might initially think: each one is more like a colony of flowers, heralded to the pollinators by huge faux petals that surround the group. The real flowers are the little yellow bits that the bees are visiting. Those bloom gradually rather than all at once, and it's really exciting to watch the process! Look at the cool pattern of buds still to open in the sunflower: each one blooms and changes and produces a seed. Sunflower seeds are funny when they're pried loose before they fully dry: they have the right taste but with the texture of green beans!
Apparently I'm not the only one whose favorite zinnias are the hot pink ones. :)
Yes, that's two different praying mantises in the yard at the same time. Note how the top one's legs and eyes are green and the bottom one's legs and eyes are brown (try to find the legs among the twigs). We get to see mantises sporadically all through the season, starting when they're only about an inch long. We like that our yard is a real ecosystem!