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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Busy Bees

Busy Bees Need A Beehive

We've had a lot of rain in our area lately.  More than normal, causing some flooding in our local streets and leaving small pools of water in our clay laden backyard.

We did finally site the beehive on the other side of the tree where the slump block bees already live.  It's all nice and water tight from the linseed and beeswax paint job.  I still need to make the lemongrass tincture to entice them.

The bees look to be quite crowded, many of them outside the slump block hive washboarding.  I've been
trying to look out for drones, a sign that the food supply is getting thin and the bees conserving the hive supplies for the contributors.  I haven't seen any.

The only event I witnessed was one bee running off another bee, but it was a single event and it looked like the bee didn't fit in with the rest of the group here.  No real sign of robbing.

I read somewhere online that older bees have less hair, but a biologist seems to refute that theory, so I don't really know how old these little bees are.

No fanning, no guarding, no defensiveness, really.  So, things must be going well, is all that I can surmise. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

August Updates

August Updates

Western Italian Bees - Apis mellifera ligustica - Honeybees
Western Italian Bees - Apis mellifera ligustica - Honeybees


The bees are so busy in the mornings, collecting packets of pollen and going in and out.  They are on the outside of the slump block hive throughout the day, washboarding.  I haven't seen any fanning going on for quite some time.  The propolis is getting thicker and darker, making the block look wet all the time.

These bees are odd.  They don't do things reported as 'norm' for bee colonies.  The opening here is pointing north, towards our block fence, so they don't get a lot of sunshine.  The block is hot and retains heat...  The largest portion of block faces south, which gets sunshine all day long.  I don't know how they managed that over the worst part of summer without dying off, but they did.  They also built in an area that is overrun by all sorts of lizards, so they must
DIY Top Frame Cedar Beehive
DIY Top Frame Cedar Beehive
be getting picked off and yet don't acknowledge my presence when snapping shots with flash, even.  These bees have hardly any defensive behaviors.

Eventually, we will have to get them out of the slump block, and are hoping they take up in the beehive we built when the hive splits off, or maybe we will move them.  We really haven't decided yet.  

Lemongrass - Cymbopogon flexuosus
Lemongrass - Cymbopogon flexuosus


August is the season where lemongrass really takes off.  We divided our lemongrass clumps last year into smaller pots and thought we had surely killed off several of them.  We watered them faithfully, and are happy to say that every single division is producing leaves now.  We have more lemongrass than we know what to do with, and certainly more than we need to rub down the inside of the beehive.

It does smell wonderful when the white ends are crushed.  We need to pick up some recipes that make good use of this plant.

Butterfly Bush
Buddleia x weyeriana 'Bicolor'
Buddleia x weyeriana 'Bicolor'

It wasn't all that long ago we received our mail ordered Bicolor Butterfly Bush.  We wanted to have a plant that bloomed well into fall to help out the bees, and this one isn't letting us down.  The plant has at least doubled in size and has bloomed its first panicle.  The colors aren't yet as vivid most report for this plant.  Maybe the color gets stronger with age.

All Vines, No Fruits

Our gourd, melon and cucumber vines are amazingly green and prolific.  They are profuse with yellow and white flowers, yet we hardly get any fruits.

Following the most recent storm, we don't have any new tracks indicating foragers and can't really identify any particular forager activity.  We're at a loss as to what is getting to everything before we do.
This season is just about over.  We need to start planning our fall and winter cold season crops.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Yarden Theif

Rabbit or Hare Tracks
Rabbit or Hare Tracks With Quarter

Yarden Theif

The last few gardening months have been disappointing, because we've had a lot of vines and flowers but no fruits.  Even our gourds get little bulbs started and somehow they disappear.

We've been lucky to happen upon a cucumber here or there and we just couldn't figure out what the problem is.  Maybe watering, maybe heat, maybe over-fertilizing.

We haven't had any scarlet runner beans, they were just nubs after flowering.  Every little lettuce head started would be reduced to ground level every couple of days.  Flushes of flowers and fruit starts that just disappear into thin air.  Then we had two days of rain and a soppy area of the yard...  and it dawned on us.  The culprit left evidence...

The Odd Rabbit

This isn't the case where our yarden is exposed to foraging activity.  Our yard is surrounded by 8' block concrete fencing.  Our gate was recently repaired and there are no openings a rabbit could fit through underneath.  These prints were next to a corner of our block fence and seemed to be a second set after very deep impressions that could have been from landing.  The two possible yarden intruders are either cottontails or jackrabbits.

That would make this an odd rabbit or hare because they typically don't make incredible jumping feats unless chased:

An ounce of prevention . . .
Where rabbits are concerned, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. The most humane method for protecting your plants from foraging rabbits is to exclude their access to the plants, as well as to reduce the habitat for rabbit nests and cover in the vicinity of your garden.
Barrier fencing. Constructing a simple wire fence around the part of the garden containing vegetables and other highly rabbit-vulnerable plants is an almost foolproof method for protecting plants from rabbits. Cottontails will not jump a 2-foot-high fence. Jackrabbits can jump higher if they are being chased by dogs or otherwise frightened, so extending the height of the fence to at least 3 feet is warranted where jackrabbits are present.
A 30- to 36-inch-high fence constructed from woven wire with a mesh no larger than 1 inch is recommended for excluding rabbits. The lower end of the wire mesh should be turned outward at a 90-degree angle and buried 6 inches in the ground to discourage rabbits from digging under the fence. Regular 20-gauge poultry netting supported by stakes can provide protection from rabbits for three to five years and is inexpensive to replace. Welded wire will provide protection for longer periods. ~ Vegetable Gardener
Times like this I really miss our dog, Phoebe.  That was an ounce plus of prevention.