Tag Archives: garden

Mess-up Updates + Expansion News

5 Jun

So, I had this super strong urge to stop out and see how zephyr bee yard was doing. I’ve been calling the three hives there “Betty” (the styrofoam nuc), “Alice” (the top bar), and”Jean Grey” (the top bar nuc).

So when I got there, the roof had blown off of Betty….who knows when.  Some time between Saturday at 6 and this morning at 10.  Possibility of 4 days roofless. Ugh.  The girls were PISSED. And I’m frankly a little annoyed that the farmer who is out there every day and drives right by the bee area didn’t mention it.

So I put the roof back on Betty and weighted it down with a bigger rock.  I also pulled out the top bars I’d wedged in there for lack of a better solution (that they’d been ignoring anyway) and put in two foundationless Lang frames (with starter strips). I’m hereby resolving not to touch them for at least a week….although I’ll be out there on Friday and an at least observe the entrance.

I figured Jean Grey would be all robbed out by now, it was just a few random chunks of comb….but there were bees coming and going, so I decided to leave it be.

Alice the top bar hive had lots of bees going in and out, but when I crawled under to look, there was no new comb being built…not sure what that means for the half transfer I’d made. It’s possible that the bees were just robbing out both and they’ll eventually stop and settle back to Betty exclusively.

Meanwhile out at Scratch, I checked on the farmer’s messed up hive…

i don’t really smoke my bees, so I don’t always even think of it.  I went in, sprayed the bees with sugar syrup, took off the roof and the inner cover, removed the queenless top box, found the paper bag pretty thoroughly eaten….and was just about to start consolidating the very few occupied frames into the brood box when I got stung and chased out by some angry guard bees! Even though I sprayed the sting spot with honeybhealthy spray, they still followed me out.

I took a second to regroup and then decided to just restack the boxes without the unnecessary inner cover and leave them be for at least a week as well.

Since I was at Scratch anyway, I peeked in on Cleo- looking amazing! She’s got comb on 12-13 of the. 15 bars provided and it’s all nice and straight. She’s my blue ribbon queen. When I’m out at the farm again on Friday, I’ll have to run up and give her a few more to work with.  I’m thinking of doing a walk away split on that hive either to Alice if the terrible nuc transfer didn’t work *or* to the hive I just got asked to put in the community garden down the street from my house!  Sooooooo excited about that!  So that will put me at:

Juju Bee – the teaching warre in Lincoln

Cleopatra –  the top bar hive at Scratch

Betty – the Lang nuc that I’ll move into a foundationless Lang up on Scratch

Alice – the top bar at zephyr that I either accidentally split Betty’s hive to or will purposefully split Cleo’s hive to

Daphne – the community garden hive that I will either split Cleopatra to or have to source other bees for… Hive style tbd.

-and-

Scratcth Hive – the hot mess foster child

Also, I’m just about finished a second TBH that will probably go to the community garden for daphne. Once Jean Grey is cleared out, I want to move that to the woods near JuJu as I know warres cast swarms on the reg and I also wouldn’t mind grabbing a feral swarm….and I want to build another HTBnuc that fits Cleo’s bars (Jean Grey doesn’t) so I can eventually split Cleo for either Alice or Daphne.

I’m a little spread out right now, but if (once Alice and Daphne are set) more bees come to me (or I need to make splits) I know I can add more hives to Scratch, Zephyr, and new hives to Zephyr 2 (newly acquired) which is hive less currently.

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June Garden Tour!

3 Jun

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Heirloom Helios Radishes – First Harvest!

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Not my usual garden helper – Connie the Basset Hound!  She belongs to my neighbor.

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Baby Raspberry.

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Black Currants waiting for their garden space in black, Minnesota Midget Melon in the white bucket, grill, Mexican Gherkin cuke, loooooooofffffaaaaassss!!!! and carrots in the long boxes.

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Baby watermelons that needed more space, carrots, loofas with a few early beets because I needed a spot for them.

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My prettiest part.  Top Row: Basil, Rosemary, Mint, Passiflora Incarnata Middle: Chamomile, Poppy, Calendula, Tarragon, more Chamomile, more Tarragon.  Bottom: Strawberry, Dill, Tomato Seedlings (up for grabs), Bee Balm, More Seedlings, Stevia (I think), more Bee Balm

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Lavender ,Cabbages Onions, Salad, Beans/Peas

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Proper Beet fields, Sprouts, Onions, Cabbages, Salad is hiding but it’s there, beans and peas….another cuke by the fence…and the corner of my asparagus bag.

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Baby Tomato Forest…and Marigolds…and a gnome…and some chard.

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Close up on the passiflora and my newest adorable pot.

Just when you look away…

21 Aug

I got all freaked out over being queenless at the beginning of the season, and then just when I decided I was fine – my hive actually became queenless…I think.

There’s so much about having a warre hive that I totally love, and other parts that leave me a little wanting…

So the hive – I might have killed the queen on the day I tried to take the top half-box off or when I nadired the hive….or the hive might have swarmed on a day that I wasn’t around. I’m not totally sure. I just know that at the end of June there were a lot of bees but that only one (and the half) box were full and at the end of July there were not all that many bees that I could see. In fact, I declared my hive dead at the beginning of August. It seemed like there just weren’t that many bees around and then I watched three wasps walk right in unimpeded. 😦

So I blocked the entrance way down and then left them alone – all I could do really. I talked to the guy I got my bees from and he said that there’s nothing I can do but freeze the hive to kill any possible diseases and start over in the spring.

Then I went out today and there seem like there are a lot more bees around. I can’t tell if they’re mine or if they’re robbers. There wasn’t much pollen coming in, but there is capped brood that I can see through the window. I made a video of the entrance:

 

There are bees hovering a bit, which is a robbing sign, but I’m just not sure. There are also wasps around, but none going into the hive – which is an improvement.
I can’t go out again until Friday, but on Friday I’m planning to put some damp sugar in the feeder. If they’re rebounding, I want to give them the best chance that I can.

One of my ladies in a squash flower.

Squash ripening on the vine.

Pickles I made from garden cukes – my first canning project this year!

A Week Post Nadir and Still No Downward Motion – Some Other Random Updates

19 Jul

So it’s been a week since I nadired the hive (a little longer, actually) and the girls are still firmly ensconced in their top box and a half.  I’m getting worried that they’re not going to have enough to over-winter on.  I really want to take the half box off – what was the feeder is now a rank mess of dead ants, fermenting sugar – I can’t lift it off to dump it out because the comb in the half box is all built onto the bottom of it… so I keep trying to mop it out and add more water every time I go out there to thin down the fermenting sugar junk.  Unfortunately, it’s also splitting open on the side (which they’re taking as an opportunity to make an upper entrance) — but because of that, the feeder only holds a tiny bit of water and somehow also never seems to totally dry out.  I want to leave the top off and let it evaporate, but I think the ladies would dislike that course of action.

I did try to lift it off when I was just out there…but when I lift it up it’s just comb comb comb….I broke one lifitng it and felt badly about it and put it back down.

Upper left you can see the split/entrance they’re making.  Luckily it’s below the level of the feeder “floor” so they aren’t getting into where the water sort of is.  The other three shots are just a few angles on what you can see when I try to pry the feeder off.

The full version of my favorite part of that grouping – some gorgeous comb and a bunch of capped honey – yay!


This is the rain barrel from the tutorial sitting in place – the tube coming in from the left is overflow from the third floor barrel and the tube leaving just below it goes into the gutter for right now.  We got a big storm today (finally!) and the top barrel filled up and if I leaned way out the window I could see the overflow tube pumping it out into this barrel.  I don’t know what the status of this barrel is, won’t until next weekend – which is also the next time I can see the bees…but it seemed like it was working.

This is the water going into the top floor barrel.  When it was super pouring, the water was shooting out over the top of the barrel – but I think it was pretty full at that point anyway.  Previous barrels that I’ve made have had the pipe go straight down into the barrel – it’s a little more finnicky but you get ALL of the water.  Which, it seems, might not be necessary.

This is the last barrel currently planned – I need to get a good drill bit and put a bajillion holes in the top of it as well as some screen to filter out the junk.  I’m super excited about the hand-pump part – suddenly we can do dishes and fill watering cans outside.  I just need to figure out what to do with the waste water.  I’ll probably put a 5 gallon bucket under there and then just take the greywater and dump it in the flower garden.
Speaking of the garden, there are tiny bits of food happening:

Tomatillo flower, green Believe it Or Not tomato, and a baby pickling cuke!

Also, I’m a sucker for plants in need – I found these lemon-boy tomatoes all mashed up and bedragled (but fruiting already) on a clearance rack– took them home, planted them next to the huge mama tomatoes that I’ve had in for months, pruned ’em up and made sure they got plenty of water – it’s only been since Saturday and these girls are ripening right up!  A little TLC turned them right around!  I have hopes that once these early fruit come off, they’ll do a little growing and maybe give me another set.

July Garden Tour

5 Jul

Part of the reason that I keep bees is for the pollination situation in my garden – I’ve only lived here a year (almost) and have really just begun to make this place into the mini-homestead that I want it to become – but, like anything, it’s one day at a time.  I think I want to try to do a monthly garden tour to show what’s going on here.

To start – the front…I’m not taking a picture of the whole front because part of it is an insane, tangled jungle that I haven’t really begun to work on yet…but up against the foundation is this:

From left to right, there’s the tip of a trellis that you can’t really see which has a clematis I bought last year at a dead looking perennials sale that came back this year and *just* bloomed, purple!  Then there’s a blueberry bush, another clematis, a blueberry bush, another clematis, and a blueberry bush.  If you’re following the progression, I’m obviously missing a clematis.  On the to-do list!  I’m hoping for another dead perennial, but it’s a Ville de Lyon and the other two are Jackmanii, so I think I should probably get another Ville de Lyon.  The middle two were a wedding gift from Eve, hi Eve!  Also the blueberries are from Monadnock Berry Farm in NH.  It’s a super awesome place and I totally recommend both their plants and their PYO berries.  Yumtastic.

This is the ripest of the blueberry bushes – they seem pretty happy there!

I also put a pea teepee to each side of that bed.  I found them amusing.  I didn’t pay as much attention to them as I ought to have, probably.  But there are some pods on there.  Yay peas!

This is the side fence..I was hoping for a little faster bramble action, I put these in in late Fall – these are raspberries and blackberries from Monadnock Berry Farm.  The hope was that they’d swallow up the fence, keep the crackheads from getting any ideas (not the brown house…but to the right…grr), and make food.  All of this is a little slow going.  I’m worried that they’re not super happy.  The soil isn’t great but it’s full sun and they’re brambles.  They’ll get mulch and compost in the fall and we’ll see what next year brings, I guess.

Blackberry action!

We also have a raised bed, it’s technically on our neighbor’s yard – but I’m paying rent on that plot in the promise of food….so far promises are enough, but I’m hoping to be able to deliver on that promise bountifully.

This is the raised bed (and surrounding container items).

The rims out front (listen, this is the ghetto) have tomato plants in them…and some marigolds.  Aforementioned neighbor likes marigolds so I put some in for her.  Next year I’ll have heirloom ones that actually do what marigolds are supposed to do, but until then…they make her happy and are pretty.

The big vine-thing is in the cucurbita family, but that’s all I can tell you – it was a volunteer and the soil came from a gardening non-profit…so um.  Your guess is about as good as mine.  It seems bent on taking over before it even begins to let the flowers open.  I think it might be a zucchini, mostly because of its general enormity…but I know Ashley (hi, Ashley!) really wants it to be a pumpkin.

The recycling bin is full of red onions, I’m growing them from sets, which I’ve never done before and put them in late…so it may be October before we have onions.

Before I knew quite how insane that vine was going to get, I put in some brussels sprouts…which hopefully aren’t too mad about this whole thing.

This is the other end…bush cucumbers that are flowering, an eggplant, kale, tiny cabbage seedlings for the winter, some beets and some leeks. The buckets down this end have tomatoes in the outer ones and tomatillo in the middle…and carrots tucked in around them.  I normally start as much as I can from seed, but the wedding put me a bunch behind this year, so I bought the plants from a guy on craigslist who does all heirlooms.  He’s really cool and I might check in with him again next year, depending on how my seed-starting goes.  He had a lot of cool varieties – we got a lemon boy, a black cherry, a pink ox-heart, a zebra, and some normal looking Italian variety that I can’t recall the name of.  The black cherry is the only one I can remember which it is and it’s flowering right now.  This is exciting!

I have some black currants in the back…in a bed I haven’t really worked on much.  They’re not super happy…there…they’re shade tolerant but I think they’re too close to either the forsythia or the maple.  The larger one is fruiting a little, but I think still…they have to move.

I just moved all of my strawberries into here….they were not very excited about the transplant, but I’m hoping that they get themselves worked in here enough that I can stand the pallet up and mount it on a wall.  If I can get it to work, I’ll fill the rest in.

This is a perennial bed that Susan and I are working on….it’s probably the part of the garden that changes the most right now.  It’s actually changed since this pic was taken two days ago, and the other end which wasn’t doing much has new stuff too..but for now – bee balm, mountain sage, the lilac, and some sedum.  There’s liatris in there (aka gayfeather, har) that’s just opening now.  We’re just trying to fill it in with whatever we find cheap or on sale…the beauty of perennials.  I got a bunch of stuff (actually including that bee balm) from a craigslist ad.  The rest is a bit random.  It used to be ALL SEDUM and it made me mad, so last year I ripped it all out.  I’m looking forward to it being more cohesive – but for now, it’ll incubate things for other spots.

I forgot to take a picture of the container area on the patio.  There are a bunch of herbs and this asparagus plant that I took pity on lat week and bought.  It’s doing pretty well, actually.  There are also two cranberry bushes that I just put into this area…not photographed…they need to a adjust a bit anyway.  You can see them in August.

It’s also my sun-tea making area.  This is my current (oh god, this is about to be a pun) favorite iced tea – it’s black / black currant from Harney and Sons.  I went to their website to review it the other day and discovered that they make an iced tea version that I’m sort of pining for.

Up on the third floor fire escape, but not blocking egress, I promise.  Is the first part of my half finished rain barrel system.  This is the top barrel that will eventually catch the gutter from the top roof (as soon as M reroutes the gutter!)  The tube coming out drops down a floor to the second floor roof….

I’m still working on tube-placement for the drip-lines – but this is the corn field.  There are two pallets with corn and squashes in them.  A third pallet will join them on Sunday, when I’ll also try to mess with the lines a bit more.  Corn!  Squashes!  There’s a lot of sprouted corn that you can’t see yet….but it’s there!  And when I decide to add fertilizer, I can just dump it into the rain barrel and use it that way – no need for a fancy fertilizer injector.  Yeah!  Oh also, bee hive.

The overflow line from the third floor barrel will drop down to a second floor barrel and the overflow from that will pop into the second floor gutter which will drop down into a first floor rain barrel with a hand pump (that I just got on ebay) and then I we’ll have about 100 gallons of possible water storage as well as lots of water for the garden!  Yay for natural resources!

And this is from the 4th of July – coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and home-grown blueberries, CSA beets (thanks Debra!) with garden mint and basil, my first attempt at my Great-Grandmother’s potato salad- rave reviews! Also, we played several heated rounds of croquet with a set that was made for us as a wedding gift….and no one hit their ball into the garden. 🙂

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