Tag Archives: bees

Winter

Such as it is – or isn’t. We had a couple of days of lows in the 20s, but that’s what passes for winter here. Today, we maxed out at 88 in the sun in the front garden. Each year is getting hotter than the last, and still people deny that global warming is an actual event, occurring in their lifetimes.

Much of my winter will be spent redoing the frames around the farm, to get rid of the wood that takes a beating and then warps or otherwise falls apart with roofing metal that will probably outlive me. This week, I spent two days redoing the herb garden frames after spending three days viciously ill with some kind of crap. After two days, the frames themselves are completed, and now need to be finished off by topping them with a good soil mix, relaying the irrigation lines, and bringing in some fresh mulch to freshen what’s there and cover the now bare spots left by the rearrangement. Oh, and putting some seed in, because while we may get a couple of random days of freeze between now and spring, it looks like it’s going to be more springlike than winterlike for us moving forward.

We had one hive of bees abscond, but the other two are well, for now. I’ve ordered up two new packages for the spring (to be delivered in May), and will need to build a new set of brood boxes for the second package since we have the now empty brood boxes for the other package. I burned the frames from the vanished hive as a precautionary measure. After the flames were out and I was scraping up the ash and pins from the frames, I saw some bees flying around the pools of solidified beeswax.

For now, I’m ill with what seems to be a relapse of whatever I had earlier in the week. I’ve had the flu vaccine because my doctor always bugs me about it – I’m now in the “at risk” group thanks to (fuck!) cancer and the effects of radiation and chemo – but it surely feels like the flu. Maybe I’m in that 35% where it turns out it isn’t effective. Whatever it is, it needs to go, because there’s a lot of work to be done, seeds to start, and a season to prepare for, even if the season appears to already be here.

Bee wrangling

This morning before heading to the NOC to rack a new server for someone, I moved a couple of blocks into place back in the orchard to act as the stand for the front hive. That one is being moved to the rear after I discovered that the hive was completely shaded all day long in the original position – and that’s no good. It’s an invitation for hive beetles and for the bees to spend far too much time keeping the brood warm (no good now that we’re heading into whatever kind of winter we’ll have around here). This evening, mom and I suited up and transported the hive to the orchard. The bees were not terribly happy about any of it. I got stung twice, both times on the same foot I got stung previously: one directly on the achilles and one just slightly above the ankle, on the interior side of my foot. This even though I was suited up as the ankle cuff rode up a bit and the bees that had landed/fallen on my boot just crawled right up and let me know what they thought of it all. Hopefully they’ll be stronger now that they’ll have a lot more sunshine to work with, as this hive is definitely a laggard compared to the other two. The other two are destined to be moved out into the open orchard as well, so we’ll have a nice line of beehives back there when all is said and done.

Morning on the ranch

Everyone was up and moving around earlier than usual this morning. Mom is off for a week for vacation in the Blue Ridge area, so we packed her up and saw her off (we meaning the dogs and me, along with assorted other critters). It was quite foggy this morning, but started burning off immediately, and it should be a gorgeous day at the ranch. No rain in the forecast, and it hasn’t rained the past couple of days. This is a good thing, as we are absolutely saturated here, and still have some good sized mini lakes scattered around the property. What we really need, and which I hope to be able to do today, is a good mowing, since the grass has taken full advantage of the daily rains we had over the past week and a half. This morning, though, was just for looking around and marveling at the sheer number of spider webs. ‘Tis the season for this sort of thing.

They were everywhere. From the branches of a pear tree in a bucket in the herb garden…

…to the fence around the rear garden…

…to a supremely ambitious, human-sized web by the barn…

…to those seeming to float from their anchors in other places.

The girls were also up and working hard. Eventually, they’ll earn their own keep instead of requiring us to feed them every day to keep them alive. Until there is a good sustained bloom, though, I change out their feeders every day (or every other day, depending on the weather and how much syrup they’re taking).

 

What are you looking at?

 

The bees in both hives in the rear were bearding when I went out to change the feeders – the bee kind, not the closeted dude kind. The feeders are full of simple syrup, to answer a question I received: equal parts water and sugar, heated until the sugar dissolves and there are no crystals left, then cooled and jarred. The bees need to be fed right now because we’re in a dearth period (nothing in particular is blooming for them to gather the amount of nectar they need) and because they’re new (so no stores for them to live on until the next bloom). We will undoubtedly not have any honey to harvest this year and likely not in the spring, either. Our target is next fall, assuming all goes well.

Insanity: Holding Pattern

Another day without a workout. One good thing: a visit with the ENT today, who gave an all clear: everything looks good, feels good (no lumps or anything in my tongue, mouth, or neck that he could feel). I have two CT scans on the 2nd, and I’m hopeful those will come back clear as well. We’re still on a 6-month rotation for visits to the various doctors and for scans, and maybe next year we can get back to yearly.

Today, though, more pain from the dental work and a couple of teeth that will be the next two to be pulled. The jarring from the jumping is a killer. So, new plan: restart on Sunday to give it a couple more days to calm down.

In the meantime, we’re still watching the floodwaters recede, slowly but surely, from the two feet or so that dropped in when Debby did Jacksonville. The bees survived high and dry, thanks to good placement of the hive. The chickens…well, chickens are not that bright, so they looked like drowned rats for a few days since they were not always smart enough to get in the coop and out of the rain.

The garden: the garlic has had it. After the fast, high heat, then a lot of rain at the beginning of the month, and now this rain, a lot of it is rotted. There may be some that can be salvaged, but for the most part, I’m counting it as a loss. Next season, I won’t be planting nearly as much, and only ordered a total of 20 pounds from Big John’s. This will give us a lot more room for tomatoes, once the frames are reworked. The remaining tomatoes out front are likely dead now, and the cukes were pulled two weeks ago after the first rounds of rain killed them off.

Looking forward to a reboot of the garden!

It was a dark and stormy night

And a grey, chilly, rainy day. A break in our streak of springlike weather around here, but this too shall pass. In a few days we’ll have 80 degree temps with showers here and there – perfect time to go start seeding the areas I’ve set aside as forage areas for the bees. By the time they arrive and are ready to get to work, those areas should be in full bloom. I also need to continue my quest to get all the frames ready to go, so we (I) can start planting in a couple of weeks. I may need some farm labor help for that, since my back is still(!) twinging me. Guess it really was pretty bad, whatever I did, although all I was doing at the time was shoveling, something I’ve done a ton of around here. Funny the way things work.