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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Comb Raiders

Heavy Resin Comb

Comb Raiders

Last month, when we had the hot hot 122 degree day, several of the combs dropped in the beehive.  We let it go so they could calm down, recover and rebuild.

We ended up having some honey trade obligations; honey promised for other goods - a pretty good trade deal.  We usually only raid the hive once a year around this time so the hive has time to rebuild and store up before the weather gets cooler.

Heavy resin comb
The resin in the comb helps a lot with keeping the wax from melting during our regular hot days of
summer.  But, sometimes, it just doesn't combat our hottest weather.

The comb that dropped had no larvae and was on the bottom and cockeyed and built over, so we took about 1/3 of what was there to clean up the mess and make sure everything looked okay.

We had our first really smooth comb raid since starting our beekeeping hobby.  It was a really nice experience for a change.

Last year we processed 1 gallon of honey from two full combs.  This year, we pulled probably 4 or 5 combs and Mr. Man thinks we won't even get a gallon...  I'm thinking mathematically we should get more than last time.  Mr. Man argues these combs aren't as full as the others.  Maybe... but still 4 or 5 compared to two...

And The Winner Is...

Raw, citrusy honey
Who was right?  Mr. Man... the combs were really light and the hive probably split twice.  Most of the bees were active towards the front of the hive and seemed to be doing clean up on the fallen comb, and creating new, hanging combs.

What did we get?  We got some really tasty honey (only 4 pints),
Fresh Processed Beeswax
some really lovely smelling beeswax (the beeswax has a really high melting point and much like glue) and propolis.

Bee propolis
This will be the first time we will keep and process the propolis.  We usually just throw it in the compost pile.  We aren't sure what to do with it though.

Any recommendations are appreciated - otherwise it may end up in the compost pile again.

Cananga odorata Ylang Ylang

New Addition

For a lovely fragrance and bee joy we bought a Ylang Ylang tree - very tiny yet, but something we can really look forward to having around.  It looks very similar to atemoya and for good reason.  It is also in the annonaceae family.

If this is seed grown, it can start blooming in as little as 3
Ylang Ylang Flowers
to 4 years.  The flowers are very unusual looking.

Bees, hummingbirds and butterflies should be very attracted to the blossoms and the custard-jasmine scent should be a very relaxing aroma to be around.

If put in the right location, this tree could provide a heavenly scent and a year round nectar source for the bees.  It is all about the bees, after all.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fancy Figs

Peters Honey Figs Covered By Organza Bags

Fancy Figs

This is our first year growing figs and having the opportunity to taste figs that are not from the store.  In fact, when thinking of buying fig trees I bought my first turkey fig from a reputable store and was not impressed.  It had a very grassy, very 'meh' flavor.  

My son assured me fresh figs do not taste like that, so I bought a bunch of 'not turkey fig' trees.  Most of the figs are of the green/yellow variety as these are supposed to trick birds into not knowing when figs are ripe...  uhm hm...

Being a beginner, we didn't know when the figs would be ripe.  Not being too concerned, thinking we have until August, the figs weren't checked much.  

Bird Pecked Fig
Then, when watering and checking the figs (because the figs were no longer green), I saw a couple of figs that had been pecked out.  Now.. I know there are some losses, but to have the first ripe figs molested and defiled before we get to try it out is super irritating.

And even more irritating is that the birds don't really do much more than ruin the fruit for everyone else.  At least the rats (roof rats in this area) would take the entire fig and make use of it.  The birds are...  aggravatingly bird brained.

Enough griping...

Cukes, squash, tomatoes, beans

Shade House Update

The shade house is doing really well.  It works for much of the plants - not much sun stress going on.

We planted a few tomato plants, yardlong beans, red runner beans, different cucumber plants and some plants we aren't sure what they are - they sprouted from the compost.

This is the most success we've had with these garden foods at this time of year.  All thanks to 40% shade cloth.

Heat Lovers
Watermelon vines

Watermelons don't need a shade cloth and here is proof.  These plants are thriving, growing super quickly and don't care how hot it is in the full sun.  We are really looking forward to scoring a few watermelons this year.  I think we can expect 3 melons per vine, and we got a pack of six vines.  Probably more melons than we'll know what to do with or keep on hand.  The good thing is that not all the melons can possibly ripen at the same time, and they can stay on the vine until the vine dies off, so maybe we can enjoy these over an extended period of time.

Luffa Vine
We are growing some luffa gourds (buy seeds here) again this year.  These were a lot of fun last time and we scored a lot of low cost luffa sponges.

The luffa vine takes the brunt of the heat here, climbs up the metal welded dog run fencing and doesn't stop!  It is a very lovely green color and the flowers much like all the cuke and melon flowers.

We also have our tried and true Armenian cucumber vines that are chugging
Armenian Cucumber
along.  Not as well as the Luffas, though.  The leaves are smaller and darker being in the full sun and heat, but we have a few flowers getting started.

Armenian cucumbers are my absolute favorite cucumber, and we are trying out a couple of others this year along with the store type English cucumbers normally in the produce aisles and a repeat of the lemon cucumbers that are pretty good, but we didn't get much of last time.

We're excited to get the garden going again this year.  It has been baren and kind of depressing without it.

Female Blue Dasher - Pachydiplax longipennis


We have a couple of really good photos - one is of a female Blue Dasher dragonfly.  I was struck by the red/brown goggle like eyes.  This one may be an immature dragonfly as the coloring is still very blue and the females usually become brown as they get older.  They do retain the bicolor eyes.

The male Blue Dashers change color and become mostly blue hued with blue green eyes.

Agepostemon virescens - Metallic Sweat Bee

Reaching back into the archives of my photos, I have a really good photo of Agapostemon virescens.  I saw one yesterday, just hanging out on a fig tree leaf, but none of the multitudes of photos were any good. A big disappointment sometimes.

Luckily, we have a really good photo of an Agepostemon virescens (aka metallic sweat bee) on a mint flower.  These bees are really jewel-like.  I'd love to make a pendant or broach fashioned after these bees with their coloring.  They would have to be upsized, of course.  If it was life size, no one would be able to recognize what it is or even notice it as jewlery.

Excitement and activities are back in the garden.  We are getting more lizard sightings.