Monday, March 16, 2009

Mid March Come and Gone

Welcome Rain comes to the Eel River Valley. Below, first of many Pear Blossoms drenched in blessed rain.
Almond Blossoms. Below, Pond on FULL.
Yellow Shiro PLum. I love this tree. It's mid-season, pest-free and bears fruit like crazy.
The bees got in a few good days of work this week before the appreciated rains of the weekend. Full Bee Report later.
Distant Vistas still covered in snow.
Crocus. Below, LOTS of Busy Bee Shots.
Wow. I've been suffering from a bit of computer PTSD; feeling only an aversion to interacting digitally since the loss of my winter photog efforts, coupled with some putative measures and weird glitches on YouTube that rendered a number of my videos trash. I have a computer love hate relationship right now, but I am trying to jump back in (with a deeper appreciation for the value of backing up - EVERYTHING!!) I have made meager efforts at replenishing my photos. Dry weather this week made for some great bee shots, and with the rain of the weekend there are more moist shots on deck. For now, I must report on my weaker bee hive, that finally met its end this week. At my last inspection I suspected that it had indeed gone queen-less (again) but waited until the weather warmed to again open it, inspect, and act if need be. So this week I opened it up on a warm afternoon and there were barely any bees inside the hive. Cells with numerous eggs in each confirmed my suspicions that there were laying workers. I disassembled the hive and shook what bees there were onto the grass about 10 feet from the other hive. Any non laying workers would seek refuge there (they will be welcomed, as they will come laden with nectar, pollen, or honey from having gorged themselves when I smoked them) The LAYING workers, being unable to fly, would remain in the grass. Really, barely any bees to speak of - no loss. The hive still had at least 30 pounds of honey in two deep boxes, with oodles of beautifully drawn out comb. I sorted it all out, filled 2 nucs and one deep in readiness for packages I have arriving next month. I sealed each one in a giant trash bag. I will check them once a week until I use them. There was only slight evidence of wax moth which I removed, so hopefully they will be fine. My strong hive will benefit from the (few) extra workers and in need be, the honey stores, should they run low during any extended rains this spring. My strong hive had a good cluster of bees, I saw the queen (she was balled -sign of stress during rehab of hives -best to ignore) a small but nicely patterned brood nest, lots of pollen, and a pretty full super of honey above. The lower deep which was FULL of bee bread, had moisture issues - at least 4 frames were moldy the rest yucky and wet. So I removed the whole mess, and reduced the hive to one deep and a super. They should do really well. They have a clean, tight space with lots of open cells for egg laying. Central open cells are surrounded by pollen, and honey - in that order- from the inside out in all directions. I am happy about this hive and not mourning the loss of my other hive. They put in great effort and I will benefit from it. The packages that I install into their wonderfully drawn comb with stores of honey in place, will be poised for an impressive build up. I understand now the need to have (way) more than one or two hives. You need other hives to absorb the stores of any failed hives and you need the stores of stronger hives to help supplement the growth of weaker ones. Onward.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Quickie Early March Post

Nectarine Blooms...Below Early Morning View of Snow Dusted Mt Lassik.Playful Clouds Precede the Rain...Below, Massive Plum Bloom. Alas, all weekend, and all this coming week they will do it in the rain and cold, leaving little hope of any visits from valuable pollinators.
Busy Bee... Trying to beat the recent spring storms...Below, Miniature Narcissus and a Lone Daffodil.

The weather has been blustery, rainy, and cold. I have made small headway on the pruning and am generally tidying up in preparation for spring. The days are noticeably longer and we are looking forward to another beautiful and inspiring spring. The recent rains have lessoned water concerns somewhat and with yet another week of the wet stuff in the forecast we are feeling truly blessed. I am riding with the dogs in the mud and rain, a lot. We are loving it. Updates from our dog sled racing escapades HERE. On a sad note, one of my beehives has gone queen-less in the last month, same one I was forced to re-queen in June. They have NO brood and what appears to be multiple eggs in some cells. This is a clear sign of laying workers, which can only result from lack of a good queen. What just two months ago was a respectable, feisty and normal looking hive, has been reduced to a anemic little cluster of bees that should really just be combined with my good hive and forgotten about. But I am hesitant, and waiting for warmer days. Sigh. Full report to come.