Friday, June 27, 2008


Smoky Horizons....The wild fires of '08 may go down as some of the worst. Certainly the earliest. We had lightning storms about a week ago, they triggered over 100 fires just in Humboldt county. There are fires all over the north part of California and today the smoke is the worst yet. Blech. Below, Weird Cloud Formations ...that preceded the dry lightning.
Eating Good in the Neighborhood..Spinach beet salad for days. Mustard and broccoli are mostly all done and a second sweet crop of collards and broccoli are coming on. We are eating peas, strawberries and just in the last few days, raspberries. I love the small fruits. The cherries? The ones I did enjoy were eaten before they were ripe, just like the birds...who cleaned up on all the rest. They literally left me with just pits hanging in the clump! Picture was too sad. Whatever, it was a pretty minimal crop and I was just too lazy and gimpy to climb up the ladder and net them. Sigh. Oh well, there is always next year. Golden Delicious Apple...Red in its youth. Peach...Planted as part of our home school studies into James and the Giant Peach. Its first year in the ground and already bearing fruit! No curl either, could be a keeper. Above Lilies...This is a very dependable day lily from Ruby Valley. Old school rules. Below, Nasturtium Volunteer...These are cheery flowers. The leaves and blooms are edible.
BEE LESSON: These two images clearly show little baby bee BROOD; Notice the C shaped object in the bottom of the cell. This brood is about 3-4 days old.
Bee EGGS...You can clearly see the small rice shaped object in the bottom of the cell. These are freshly deposited. Below, CAPPED BROOD. Notice the color is darker than the capped honey below it.
Worker Bees vs Drone Bees...Clearly illustrated above and below. My weaker hive has about a million drone so it is easy to find them when picture day comes around. More on the antics of this hive below...
Notice the drone has a much larger body. The worker bee is smaller and its eyes are much less prominent. The worker bees are sterile females, and the drones are the males. Drone bees gather no pollen or nectar and are just basically loafers who wait around for a virgin queen to fly by, which is not very often! At the close of the season the bees kick all the drones out of the hive, for they can't afford to feed them all winter. The queen will lay new drones in the spring. Drones are very loud buzzers when they do fly (bees leave the hive to relieve themselves.)
My YouTube BEE VIDEO of the hive entrance: Blah-g is right. The smoke has me choking; these hips are not happy to blog; and my knee is tweaked but good. Still I blah-g on. In my healing I have ventured back onto the bike. (yea!) We rode in the G.ville parade and I hope to offer a complete report of all our recent escapades on my mushing blog.Team HumDog...waiting for their turn in the G.ville parade. Below, Pepper on the DL with a bee sting! She would sometimes put her nose right into the hive! Bet she might not do that anymore! Her nose got all puffed up. Dog On Ice...On the homestead it's the bees that have taken a good deal of my attention and focus. I worry about them all the time! I'm not sure if it will help, but I can't seem to forget about them. My queen-less hive is now officially queen-right. I inspected on Wednesday, and found she had been released and there were newly lain eggs! yeah! The mood of that hive has improved a lot, and I am looking forward to them building up normally in these long hot days of summer. I planted about a hundred sunflowers to boost the summer nectar flow. Now that the blackberries are done, I don't know where they go, or what exactly they are feeding on. But they are coming home heavy, and still bringing in lots of pollen. I hope the smoke doesn't get them too upset. Bee keepers use smoke to calm the bees while we work them. There are several theories on why it works: One, is that is causes them to think their home is in danger, so they gorge themselves on nectar and honey in preparation to leave. The influx of sugar leaves them in a stupor. Some also believe, the smoke may interfere with their complex communication system. Whatever the case, there is too much smoke today.P.S. ADDENDUM II: Here is a silly Simba video on YouTube. Need a kitty fix?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Follow Up

Bearded Iris Show Part II...and below, Snap Peas in the Morning Light...
Above, the very unusual Painter's Palette...It is a shade loving multi colored shrub that bears tall, spiky, bright red blooms, in the autumn. Below, Roses on Parade.
California Poppies are in Abundance...The bees enjoy them a lot. Below, the Lush New Growth of the Plum. They seem very happy with the dry conditions... Below that, Strawberries of some Gigantic Breed...they were freebies with a catolog order. They have spread everywhere and now look like they are going to bear as well...Will they be hollow and flavorless?
Sweet William...A very dependable Homestead Flower. Freely reseeds and is fairly drought tolerant. Good for the lazy gardener! Below, Simba...Resting up for Summer.
This is a follow up to my last post. I have so many more great shots in the can ( I guess that should be on the card) and some amazing videos of the bees. ...BUT - Speaking of busy...I've little time to blog, and my hips say no blogging! So I am staying active and enjoying the summer sun.

BUT, I am following the bees progress closely and was able to inspect again today. The weaker hive is queen-less so I have ordered another. It will not be shipped until Tuesday! We will re-queen by next Friday, and the new queen should be laying by the beginning of the following week. Which will put this hive about a month behind the other. They are still consuming the syrup, and have collected a good amount of pollen and nectar. They are slow to draw out the comb, but do have some capped honey, a good amount of capped brood, but no open brood or eggs. I will be nervous until I can install a new queen...and what even happened to our first? Was it a Swarm? Injury/Death? From what? Skunk? Bee Keeper? Stress of travel? And why, did she lay so well at the first, and then this dearth of birth??? And why are there so many drones in this hive? Like too many i think....Anyway, I am in wait and see, and trust the process mode with this one. Hive two is kicking butt. I decided to remove the queen excluder, and the second super. They just haven't got the hang of going through it, and had drawn no comb in either box. But they are so crammed into the brood chamber they are hanging out the front door at night! So I will let them build up some comb on the first super and then replace the excluder (or not... maybe I'll let them have the first super too.... )Today I again saw the queen. There was also TONS of eggs, brood, good pollen, nectar and some capped honey too. Yea!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Way Later...

Cool June...Clouds rolling through on the wind...Calendula...ever blooming...Veggie Hits...and Hollyhock Sprouts....

Bumblebees A-plenty ...
Drone Bee...Outside the hive...WHY? (notice, its right wing is deformed...did he attempt to chase a queen and fail...?) Pictures below illustrate the antics of one of my hives. Numbers in this hive are few, there is very little uncapped brood, and on my last inspection I didn't find the queen but may have seen queen cells....! One afternoon they put on quite a display - Swarming? Nuptial flight of a new queen? I have many questions and few answers. Side note: This is a very active BEEFORUM. It is for Top Bar Hive enthusiasts, but many of the same principals apply; plus TBH's are very interesting! Top Bar Hives are simple bee hives, with about 30 slats across the top. The bees build all the foundation themselves and the hive can be built from simple materials. The claim is that TBH's do away with a lot of the hassle and extra gear of traditional bee keeping.... For now, we are in wait and see mode on this hive. I may need to re-queen it. My other hive is building up splendidly; their numbers are at least 4x's the weaker hive. They have already received two supers in addition to the brood chamber, which is 2 hive bodies deep. The queen there is laying like wildfire, beautiful even abundant brood and eggs. Crab Apples...and below, Backside of Ballerina - at Summer Arts Fair 2008- Middle Daughter sharing her gift...Thank you R.

I am having a hard time logging much time on line. I have chores in excess, and an uncooperative body. Nuff said. I have lots more images ready for the web, and will try to post again tomorrow. xxoo Jj