Long Overdue Update

Long Overdue Update

We had a really crazy spring here at the homestead. The weather was very mild as we planted seeds in starter trays, watched the new chicks grow and got a new colony of bees ordered. We had been talking about adding another raised garden bed out back, and were starting to draw up some plans when we got wind of a new community garden space opening just down the street. After visiting and getting some info, we learned that we could get a 10’x20′ tilled plot with water for $35/yr! We decided to give it a shot and get to know our local gardening community.

 

We got everything planted, and off to a great start! And then……

 

…A freak hailstorm rolled in, demolishing all of the sweet seedlings in the garden, breaking windows on the front of the house and causing roof damage. We had to regroup and purchase new plants, meet with the roofing contractor and get the garden back on track. IMG_20170513_120425

About a week after we got everything replanted, we had one last snow storm, but got all of the plants covered just in time!

 

Since we have this huge community space, we decided to plant a couple varieties of potatos in the raised bed and the hay bale bed at the house. We are really looking forward to this harvest 🙂

In May we introduced the young white plymouth rocks into the big coop…and soon discovered we had a roo!

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One of the downsides to living in an urban area is that we are not allowed to keep roosters. We found a lovely retired couple in a rural area that keep a small flock of free range birds, and having just lost their rooster, were very excited to add our sweet boy to their flock.

We added some window boxes on the fence out front, and our various wildflowers are starting to burst with color. The bees have been hard a work, and we seem to be on track for a good honey harvest this year.

 

The roof on the house has been replaced, and the windows are fixed. Everything seems to be growing strong, and we’ve already been enjoying fresh greens and a few peppers from the garden. Now that everything seems to be back on track, we’ll be better about sharing updates!

18815417_10155261284933190_7922172169154941349_oThe littlest member of our rescue pack, “Abbey”, wishes you all a relaxing and safe holiday weekend!

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The yard is coming to life!

beeyellowflrOver this past holiday weekend, we had time to really finish up a lot of projects in the yard. We have planted what seems like pounds of wild flowers, Quaking Aspen trees, Dwarf Pines, and pruned our Peach tree which is starting to produce fruit for the first time. We really focused on being as diverse as possible with our flower selection while still concentrating on pollinator friendly choices. While out dead heading some potted flowers, we ran into a “local” foraging from our hive. It’s rewarding to see them able to provide for the colony using our yard.

So far the early bloomers that they seem to favor have been Allium (a wild onion) and Salvia (a Sage with columns of small purple or blue flowers). While we wait for other flowers to grow out and start to flower, they have been making use of the potted flowers, as seen above. We hope to see our poppies, Snow in Summer, Blanket Flower, Bachelor Button, and Sun Flowers develop and bloom soon.

Below, the Allium was frequently visited by foragers gathering nectar during its short bloom.

We are excited to see what late spring and summer will bring as the hive’s population continues to expand daily. In the past, we have seen low yields from plants that are “self-pollinators” and hope that frequents visits from the bees will help resolve this issue.

Our next update will focus on our potted and hay bale gardens, but first, one more bee photo. Stay tuned!beeyellowflr2

There is a buzz in the air….

There is a buzz in the air….

The bees have arrived! We have been patiently waiting since November 2015 (when we bought our hive) for our new friends to arrive. Yesterday, we picked up our nuc (nucleus hive) from a local beekeeping supplier. A nuc, or nucleus hive is a small hive consisting of 5 frames with bees, honey, pollen, eggs, larvae and capped brood. We decided on the nuc over a “package” because it is already an established, albeit small colony. All the bees in the nuc are related to the queen in the nuc. This makes transferring the colony into the permanent hive much simpler since we don’t need to worry about the queen being rejected (killed) by the bees which is always possible in a package.

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The top of the nuc after prying the lid off. We can see bees, wax, and the 5 fives frames described earlier.

 

We let the nuc settle with the entrance screen removed so that the scout bees could leave the nuc and get orientated to their new surroundings. After a few hours they seemed calm and the weather did not look like it would be favorable for the transfer for much longer. We went ahead and moved each frame over to the permanent hive, one at a time, making sure to keep them in the same order and making sure to move slowly and deliberately as to not crush or harm many bees, but most importantly, the queen.

The above photos show the nuc sitting on the hive for orientation flights. As well as examining frames before transferring them into the permanent hive.

We have been preparing for the bees since November. Slowly buying the needed equipment. Building a new wall to create a bee fence and entrance to the apiary. After lots of study, expense, and excitement, we are really happy to officially bee actual beekeepers! We hope to see improvements in our gardens this year with the addition of several thousand pollinators roaming our yard. The honey this summer wont hurt either!

Even if beekeeping is not something you are interested in, it’s important that we all do what we can to protect these vital creatures. Even planting appropriate flowers and garden items for pollinators in your own yard can make a difference.

Cheers,

AK