Hi blog. I’m sorry for the long silence. Not to unduly thrash the proverbial expired equine for my excuses, but there’s been a lot of work and not a lot of time for my usual airy-fairy musings the past few weeks.
Lately, the most complex thing on my mind is whether or not I will ever be dry again. Which is an odd thing to wonder, given I don’t wear a wet suit to work, except last week we received 7 inches of rain in less than 24 hours and if it’s not raining I’m usually sweating a few inches myself.
(The bees are probably not thrilled when I drip sweat into the hive, but it doesn’t seem to bother them too much, either.)
The chicks we received in May are growing quickly and have been moved out into the chicken tractor. One of our hens hatched out a surprise clutch of a dozen or so chicks, all of them fuzzy and black or gray with white bellies which make them look like tiny penguins. Every morning and evening now includes feeding and watering three different groups of chickens. Opening and closing tunnels (which protect tomatoes, cucumbers, and seedlings from pests and excessive rain) is the other main morning chore before we move on to harvest, planting, weeding, and other work.
I left my bees alone for a while after my (too hasty) addition of the second deep hive bodies. In my panic over the bees’ swift drawing of comb, I didn’t account for the large number of adult worker bees who reach the end of their lives before new brood hatches and matures. Probably they would have been fine—possibly better off—without the additional space. Live and learn, I suppose.
That was one important lesson from my recent inspection of the hives. I also learned how enjoyable and helpful it is to have a friend along when you’re inspecting hives. Lilly womanned the smoker and patiently listened while I pulled out frames and rambled about how awesome bees are; we were granted an audience with the queen of Hive #1 when we opened her up, and also saw a brand-new baby bee chewing her way out of her cell. Hive #1, I’ve decided, is named Marilla, and she’s doing well, with plenty of capped brood and even some capped honey.
Hive #2 (Adelheid) had an important lesson, too—lots and lots of drone cells and multiple eggs laid in cells, indicating the queen was missing or dead. Not good, but hopefully not the end of Adelheid, either. I opted to combine Adelheid and Marilla using the newspaper method, and hopefully Marilla-Adelheid will help each other grow until they’re ready to be split.
Hive #3 is named Rapunzel. Lilly and I could tell from the buzzing alone as we did the initial smoking that Rapunzel is the most active of the hives. We’ll see how she compares to the Marilla-Adelheid duo in the long run.
I won’t open the hives again for a couple weeks, but the good news is that I have a second veil and jacket for visitors; I’m looking forward to showing the bees off to more friends after enjoying them so much with Lilly.
Right now, zinnias are growing and blooming like mad. I’m really pleased with the ever-popular Benary’s Giant mix; I love the purple blooms best, I think. I’ve had some issues with disease in my sunflowers, so they’re behind, and I’m waiting on amaranth, strawflower, cosmos, and celosia, as well, to make some fun bouquets. I’m doing a real good job of growing weeds, too, mostly crab grass and nut sedge. Anyone needing a butt/hamstring/lowerback workout should join me for some weeding.
That’s enough rambling for the moment. I hope to see a lot of you at our onion-picking party soon!