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Mysterious times

As spring arrived – after the late March refreeze that killed my pear blossoms, fig leaves, orange stems and fooled the usually infallible pecan trees – these strange stalks pushed up. I must have planted SOMETHING in this bed. I have irises, crinum lilies, gloriosa lilies, stokesias and agapanthas in this bed. And now I have these odd, unidentified bulbs. They appear to be a walking variety. I like them very much. They are strange, unique and uncommon.

My bee hive has gone from a feeble, anemic cluster of bees occupying a brood box but lacking brood cells, larvae, pollen stores and honey. As last summer closed, I was uncertain if the hive would survive. But, I relocated them to a smaller box – and I fed them. A lot. And they rebounded. The colony is quite robust and active. I added a second super for honey storage and a green drone frame to try and mitigate varroa mite reproduction. And today, it is possible that the hive split and part of the colony swarmed away.

They didn’t go far. As I walked out to check on the newer, feral, cut-out colony I installed Saturday, I kept hearing bees zinging past me is all directions. I looked down and found a puddle of bees on the ground.

I was determined to catch this swarm and relocate them into a new box. I had just bought a Nuk. It’s not yet painted . I swabbed the inside with lemongrass extract and swept the bees into the hive. They marched right in.

I found the queen in a ball of attendants still in the grass and dropped her in the top of the box. Now I have three hives. And the honey is starting to flow. Time to upgrade to deep brood boxes. Dadant is going to get all my extra money this month.

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I am in no way expert but I am an enthusiastic backyard beekeeper. I know I am supposed to rob the hive. The whole point is to collect honey but I often think of them like a pasture of cows or goats. I just want them to have a happy home and range to make a healthy hive. I worry that robbing the hive stresses them and causes them to be at risk of pests and disease. Maybe that is why, in some Freudian way, I am ill prepared to rob the hive. I do not have any standard frames in my freezer to replace the honey packed frames I found in the hive this morning.

 

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My enthusiasm gets ahead of me sometimes. Sometimes as easily as my pessimism can knock my feet out from under me. I went out this morning to check on the bees and to replace the sugar water. I’ve been less that diligent about the sugar welfare, as I think there is plenty of pollen and nectar in the wild blackberries, flowers and grasses in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, my second hive has collapsed…or swarmed. I can’t tell. But the hive box is abandoned and the next door neighbor bees have hacked the hive like a bunch of squatters and crackheads. The comb is also occupied by some moths and some kind of webweaver insect that I could not find. Only their webs served as proof of their existence. I have been overly hopeful that bees, given a hive and a place to roam and gather pollen will capitalize on the free housing. In exchange, they’d give me some honey and pollinate my flowers and fruit trees. I am sent back to the drawing boards, chat boards and text books to figure out what I am missing.

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Mr. McGillacuddy

Today, our gopher turtle returned. We had to make special accommodations for Mr. Gopher (Tortoise) last summer during construction because the gopher tortoise is endangered. His burrow has looked active but he is a stealthy little critter. Today he came marching across the back yard as if he had a mission. We’ve assumed the turtle is a “he” for some reason. We debated picking him up but he hissed at us. We figured that the minute we picked him up the Florida wildlife ranger would drive by and it would look as if we were planning cooter stew. Eventually he set off south towards the beehive and an underbrush exit into the blackberry brambles in the adjacent lot.

Say hello to our little friend, Quilligan McGillacuddy.Gopher tortoise