Monday, April 19, 2010

Swarms and Other Homestead News

BLanterns at Sunsetees
Just a few days after my last post my bees swarmed! Luckily Greg was down that weekend and was able to retrieve the cluster from a cedar. We moved them into the honey super that I had on hand and then moved the super of bees several hundred yards from the original hive. All seemed well till the next day when they swarmed again while I was gone. When I came out to inspect the new hive the air was full of bees and they were in the process of flying away. There was nothing I could do but watch. The only thing I could have done differently (that I'm aware of) was to enclose the bottom entrance of the hive more completely as I've read many people do when creating a new hive from a swarm. The problem with that was we were so hot last week I was afraid to close it more than 80%.

So, that was a bummer. I still have the original hive which is still a very nice, healthy hive and I've got the honey super on. Still waiting on the two I ordered to arrive. My hope is that I'll still get a good harvest of 2-3 honey supers. I'll be picking up another couple of deep hive bodies and hope we'll be able to successfully split the hive next year via a caught swarm or pre-swarm split.
Chicken Coop in the Spring
Garden
The garden is slowly waking up. The onions, sugar snap peas and potatoes are looking good. The lettuce, spinach and a few other cool weather greens are slowly getting there. I think the week of crazy warm/hot weather did not do them well. I watered a good bit this past weekend as we've not had rain for over two weeks. The tomato seedlings in the greenhouse are looking pretty good. I'm eager to sow the fence borders of flowers like cosmos, zinias and a few perennial herbs such as feverfew but I was waiting for the past few days as we had some pretty chill night time temps. The rhubarb seedlings came up great and were just transplanted to pots. I'll likely sell or give a few of those away as I have far more than I need. Strawberries, blueberries, currants and gooseberries are all doing great. Two of the hardy kiwis look fantastic and two died for some reason, no clue why. I've lost three fruit trees also not sure why. One was a bit flooded, the other two I don't know. The comfrey seeds are coming up now. I planted 30 or so and will be transplanting them out around the fruit trees.

I've been nurturing the original forage area used by the chickens last summer. It is now full of red and white clover, yarrow, self-heal, and comfrey just to name a few. It is well on the way to being a lush polyculture of nutrient accumulating plants that will provide a food source for the chickens as well as our pollinating insects.
Rain Barrels
Water Harvesting
I finally finished off my rain barrel system. Five barrels behind the cabin will collect up to 275 gallons of water! There's another barrel to collect water from the greenhouse roof. I may paint them at some point but plan to try growing ground nut or some other food producing vine first. They're not real pretty to look at so I want to do something to pretty it up a bit, growing food on them would probably be the best choice. Some folks were wondering if this was for drinking water and the answer is no. I'll use it mostly for the garden in the area right around the cabin. Also for washing my hands or for the critters to drink. It is fairly clean though and I probably could drink it if need be. I filter it at the inlet with a screen. There's probably a bit of minute grit from trees and wind making it in. I suppose worst case scenario is a bit of bird or critter droppings from the roof and I do have the wood burning stove so the first few rains of spring probably contain some sort of smoke/soot type contaminates. If I were going to drink it I would run it through some sort of filter and would feel pretty safe with it. The barrels previous use was food grade flavorings with the exception of one that had concentrated hydrogen peroxide. They've all been very well cleaned.
Kids' Cabin
One last bit of news, the kids' cabin is finally finished! Greg came down this past weekend and finished off the soffits, trimmed, caulked and painted. They'll likely repaint the trim with a different color but for now it all has at least two coats and is safe from the weather.


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2 comments:

  1. Be careful - often the first swarm isn't the last. If you want to keep your bees and honey harvest in the coming year, I would go over the hive body top to bottom and look for swarm cells where the bees are raising queens just to make sure no other bees abscond. If you find some of these, you can move the frames with them to another box, and keep that as its own hive with its own queen for the coming year.

    Dominic
    olympicacres.com

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  2. Denny,

    I just have a quick question for you but couldn't find an email so had to resort to this. I am a progressive blogger. Please email me back at barbaraobrien@maacenter.org when you get a chance. Thanks.

    Barbara

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