Showing posts with label bees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bees. Show all posts

Thursday, August 15, 2013

honey bee homes

Keeping bees is an expensive habit. The frames, bases, lids, wax boards and bees themselves quickly run to $600-$700 dollars for each hive. 

Even to DIY, to buy the wood, assemble, paint, buy more wood and build inside frames and attach wax backer boards costs. A queen and about 3,000 bees, enough to get a new hive going, is over $100. 

The amount of honey taken from a hive each year can vary. There are honey bees (and many, many other types of bees) everywhere we walk on the farm. It has been wet and cool much of the summer, and honeybees prefer the weather to be above 72 degrees, sunny and no rain. Summer time they build honey stores, enough to last the winter. Enough honey must remain in the hive to support the queen and enough bees to keep her alive and healthy enough to make more bees next spring, when it is warm enough for blooms and pollen gathering. What is removed is for the beekeeper to offer as honey. 

Our existing hives have bees in them. We do not medicate our bees. Most beekeepers do: the assault on such a tiny animal has become untenable for most to survive. The integration of pesticides into a plant have an adverse effect, so do mites, parasites and the general use of weed killers, strong fertilizers and the like on lawns. 

Today we assembled more pieces to build empty hives. Put them out on the property, in separate spots. Some purchased parts, some homemade parts. No bees in them. We have learned that if we put empty hives out, bees will find it, explore it, maybe sometimes make a new queen and move her and a whole bunch of friends into it. 

After that, the honeybees fill the thing with wax and honey. It gets extraordinarily heavy, as the honey and all those bees weigh a lot. Placed on bricks or cinder blocks, these light weight structures, designed to mimic what a honey bee made hive is like in the wild, will become a new home. We hope. Come on over and visit us, stay awhile. We promise to provide lots of pollen loaded vegetables, fruits, berries, trees, shrubs and vines. No pesticides, organic or synthetic. No synthetic fertilizers. 

And at the same time we will leave plenty of bare ground so the native, single bees have spots to live and lay eggs. We all know that while the honeybee waits for warmth and sun, many native bees are jumping out of the ground and getting their pollen on. 

All welcome here!

The lids and bases were painted to protect them from falling apart. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

no robo bees here

There is talk and writings about development of tiny drones that will be programmed to do the jobs of bees. 

There appears to be a link between the insecticides, herbicides, fungicides and more that are designed to match the genetically modified commodity crops and the death of bees. And Monarch butterflies, bats, fireflies, frogs and other lovely things that used to populate farms. 

Many growers are noticing a lack of these beauties. Silent Spring, predicted long ago by Rachel Carson, is happening in gardens all over this country. 

The drones in development might not be programmed to hit my garden. More important things, like the almond crop, are likely to get the drones after fees are paid. 

This morning we have bees in the squash. We still have honey bees, as well as bumble, squash, carpenter, swear and others I can't identify. On this hot and dry day they will all be out working, helping to make certain we have food on the farm. 

We will keep growing in our messy way. And planting native. Nonhybrid seeds so the bees have work to do, pollen to gather that supports them and us nutritionally, that produces honey that can keep them alive all winter. 

They are all over the tomatoes too. And the beans. And the clover, aster, goldenrod and more. Be careful where you step because the bees are truly everywhere on this farm. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

rain much?

How can we tell it has been raining more than usual?

The garden beds are lush. The only flower bed we have planted, a perennial bed full of natives, is way overcrowded for the first time. Every plant is jammed up and huge, in years past they have just not been large. Even after the cattle ate the oak leaf hydrangea down it has sprung back to life, full of buds that are ready to bloom!

The vegetables have been thick and full. We know the heat will be here in full force in the next couple of weeks, and will be with us for about 8 weeks until things cool down a bit. There is usually scant rain during this time, and if a drought happens it is usually inside these 2 months. 

For now, the clover is in bloom all over the farm. Since this is pollinator week, I'm looking and observing the number of pollinators flying around and working our blooms. All I know is this: there are tons of them here. Every few feet in the clover, all over the buds on the flower beds, hanging out near tomato plants covered in blooms. The hive for the honey bees is buzzing and active, while the ground dwelling and more solitary bees are working every flower too. 

And then this! Mushrooms popping all over. Believe it or not: scientists know there is an underground system of something that is not roots of plants but roots of something else, and that when mushrooms sprout, all over, all at once, it is an indicator of healthy, life supporting soil. 

We have it here, no question. Each spring this one or two day phenomenon is larger than the year before, covers more ground with more varieties of mushrooms. They are here and gone quickly, and are sure signs that our soil is supporting many forms of life. 

I'm betting that this soil health helps all of the native ground dwelling bees. That somehow this flush of fungi signal those tiny, sensitive creatures that the soil here is good for them, and they make more and pollinate more. Earth systems fascinate me, as do the interconnections of healthy, fertile soil and the tiny creatures that fertilize so much. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

in high grass

The growth of the grass has been rapid. It grows in clumps that still allow bare patches, which are good for the native bees. Those bees have homes in individual holes in the dirt, and where the ground is covered with clover there is no room for the bees to move in. We still offer many spots for them and see them all the time, everywhere. 

As the herd of cattle move through, they devour the greens. Little poison ivy grows anymore, which never ceases to amaze me. 

Still everywhere are the milkweeds. There are several different kinds, all supporting the Monarch butterfly population. We have seen lots of other butterflies and scuppers, but no Monarchs. We think it is awesome that the cattle cleared the tall stuff from around the milkweeds so the butterflies can spot them when they return from their travels to Mexico. 

While up close the herd of cattle are clearly not babies, from a distance all that can be seen are their backbones, or sometimes a set of small horns. 

The front yard, just a few weeks ago eaten down to nothing, is waist high on me. Homer met a neighbor who asked if we are the ones in the messy house. 

Yup. That's us. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

rain and sun

Last fall we had rain that caused the bees to eat their winter stores by the end of October. It rained so frequently and so hard the honeybees could not leave the hive for gathering fall pollen. Honeybees need sunshine and blue skies to be able to work: other varieties of bees are up earlier, in bad weather and in cooler temperatures than the honeybee.

Lots of things are blooming now. I'm a fall allergy sufferer, so I know for certain there is something out there producing plenty of pollen!

The best weather for the farmer, the garden and the bees in fall is when it rains a bit everyday and the sun shines every day. A bit of each causes seeds to germinate, flowers to bloom, pollen to be collected, vegetables to be made, honey to be formed in the hives.

As the daylight changes and the temperatures change the honeybee colony changes. There are few bees to go out and forage in the dead of winter instead the bees are focused on keeping the queen alive through the winter.

Many things (squash, marigolds and cosmos among them) continue to bloom on the farm. Soon asters will replace the goldenrod and ragweed. And with a mix of sun and rain the honeybees can save more honey for the winter hive and not have to consume it early. The next 6-8 weeks will tell.

Monday, April 16, 2012


The bees are out again. So are the gnats. This bee seems a tad confused..not much pollen on a battery charger.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

honeycrisp for the bees

Honeybees take a beating. It used to be that anyone could easily keep bees with little work or maintenance. That is no longer true for anyone, even on the type of farm (chemical free, fields of flowers) we operate.

Veroa mites, bee beetles and probably stuff we don't know about take out some hive members. Outside the hive there are all sorts of genetically modified crops growing, and those have been proven to have an awful effect on bees.

Experienced bee keepers advise giving sugar water to bees. A mix called simple syrup in the kitchen, it offers bees food as they wind down and prepare for winter. This fall, with about 3 weeks of rain and then snow before bees slow down for winter means the bees were forced to eat their honey stores. Early. Too early to have honey to eat through the winter.

We have a huge bag of honey and dispensers. But for right now the bees are sucking up natures sugar, from the truckload of semirotting apples Homer picked up to feed the pigs. The bees love it and are out on them every day, the entire time the sun shines, feeding and carrying back to the hives.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

late blooms

Even this late in the growing season we still have things blooming! We have about 3 weeks until our first hard frost, and still the flowers are setting on a bunch of squash. It is a thin line between putting row covers on them to protect from night time temperatures and breezes that strip moisture from the plant and allowing the flowers to be pollinated by the bees so we get squash to eat. Yesterday was the day these plants were covered, after we witnessed a lot of this for a couple of weeks:

Monday, September 19, 2011

spraying Dibrom

Yesterday, via email, we received word that the state of PA will begin spraying flood areas for mosquitoes. In an effort to combat West Nile Virus. Of course, what kills a mosquito also kills honey bees, Mason bees, and a variety of other good bugs. Dibrom is a carcinogen..known to cause cancer. This information was sent to us because we are registered beekeepers with the state, and they want to warn us to cover or shield our hives. We are surprised that parents were not informed. My bees might be out, and we might lose some. But children will be out at dusk and into the evening as the planes fly overhead. With farming, we never know from one day to the next what work will suddenly pop up..beyond what we normally do every day. Which is a lot. Covering our hives is not something we thought would need doing. On our farm the ducks eat our mosquitoes. At dusk the bats empty from our trees to catch bugs all night. Yesterday I got in touch with people at PASA, the organization based in PA that is in favor of sustainable agriculture. I wonder 2 things.. 1. Are the nighttime temperatures too cold for mosquitoes to breed and grow? 2. When and under what circumstances does West Nile get transmitted? I had a long list of things to get done today..mundane things that will happen later in the day. Right now I'm going to find mosquito experts and pose these questions to them. I'd prefer this spraying not happen this evening..there is no evidence of mosquitoes here these nights not at markets I've attended this past has been too darn cold! Off to ask a few questions.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

bees, vanishing?

We went to a movie last night. Not often that the farmers leave together to enjoy an activity off farm at this time of year! Sponsored by Sonnewald Foods and York County Beekeepers Association, we watched the movie "The Vanishing of the Bees". The commercial growers first experienced entire bee hives disappearing, just vanishing, in the middle of the last decade.

As they examined the change in pesticide use and manufacturing, it became clear tha the newest type of herbicide/pesticide/fungicide were the causes. If the bees were moved to a spot where a recent application of these powerful poisons had occurred they lost their in the bees just did not return to the hives.

Beekeepers in France noticed the same thing, and the director of the department of agriculture there banned the use of the new, systemic and very powerful agricultural chemicals. And the bees went back to right. Beekeepers in the U.S. have testified before congress to have these chemicals, so vastly affecting the nervous system of the honeybee, restricted. But no avail. These chemicals continue to be used on the subsidized by the federal government, big ag producers of corn, soy, wheat, sorghum fields. The beekeepers have learned to keep their bees away from these fields.

We grow animals on grass for these reasons. It just seems like a good idea to raise them on what they were put on this earth to do: forage. Our grass fed beef is delicious, tender and smells wonderful. Our pasture raised pork is great, our chickens, turkeys and eggs are wonderful too. We feed the poultry a small ration of GMO free feed..gone in less than 10 minutes in the morning, the rest of the day is spent scratching in the dirt, chomping on grass, eating worms and bugs.

The majority of the genetically modified, able to withstand the application of powerful chemicals because the genes have been spliced/altered to do so corn, wheat, soy and sorghum goes to animal feed. Or to the production of food that is processed and that the doctors say is not so good for you.

We have opted out of this big ag supported food system. Consider a pasture raised, rotational graized source for your meats. Look for a local farmer, learn one recipe that puts your meat and vegetables into one pot, all day, and then eat for several days. Get a different cut or type of meat and try another. It is amazing what these small things can do to make a big difference for all of us, including the tiny, sensitive bees.

The toughest thing for us to watch was the comparison of bees visiting sunflowers. We grow about 15 varieties here on the farm, and love them. We do only grow the older, closer to native type and never the hybrid, and certainly never any treated seed. In the movie, they had footage of bees on treated sunflowers losing their way, unable to systematically cross the face of the sunflower to gather nectar and pollen, eventually falling to the ground dead. What?! Sunflowers are the easiest thing to grow, why would they need to be treated?! The damage to the bess was just heartbreaking to fledgling beekeepers like us, who every day see how organized and thoughtfull bees are as they work the flowers on all the plants growing here. It does make me wonder what the compound effect of these chemicals is having on our is currently unknown, but scientists and doctors have suspisions that these powerful chemicals are linked to a variety of new disorders in children. We will continue to grow as we do here, hand picking bugs off our vegetables and fruits, rotational grazing our livestock, enjoying the bees and honey, and providing food as clean as we can grow it for families in this area.

and here are our bees, this morning, along with our sunflowers:


Sunday, July 17, 2011

get growing: another reason why we farm the way we do

A recent study from Claire Kremen (UC Berkeley)  points out the impact of native bees on California crops. Her study shows that at least 1/3 of the crops in CA are pollinated by native bees and not the trucked around honeybees. Fiscal impact? Almost $12 billion per year. Yes, BILLION!

Kremen points out that honeybees are very important to the almond crop, and the almond growers bring them in to pollinate the trees.

And when she examined productivity and output of all other types of foodstuff grown in CA it turned out that orchards/growing fields/vineyards near open range cattle ranches had the greatest output. She makes the connection that the wide variety of things growing in the pastureland provides habitat for some of the 4,000 or so native bees of North America..and that these and other pollinators, sheltered in grasses, undisturbed ground nests, holes in fallen trees, brush piles, etc. share their love with all the plants in their area.

Kremen asks about the connection with eating beef from free range or pasture beef and how it helps the environment. She makes the link between the ability of all sorts of pollinators to thrive in fields and then visit vegetable and fruit plants and have a significant impact on productivity.

At Sunnyside Farm we grow lots of things: beef is our foundation, as the cattle move through our 40 paddocks they never eat everything down to the dirt. In early December they have trimmed every inch of the property nicely, including every tree in our little woods. But during the time the pollinators are active the cattle are in constant motion, as Homer moves them to a new paddock every single day, leaving pollinators plenty of time to reproduce and build their colonies. Our honeybees grow like mad as well in these conditions. We have fruit trees planted: apple, pear, peach, cherry, plum and now blueberry. all our vegetable varieties are open pollinated..meaning they need bees and such..unlike the F1 hybrids that most time eliminate the need for bees..or worse, provide with pollen from sterile plants unable to reproduce..what does that do to a tiny bee? With no pesticides, insecticides, herbicides or fungicides (organic or synthetic) used here we see and hear constant pollinator activity. Right now with cucumbers, tomatoes, melons, squash and the like inside the hoophouse it is buzzing. Literally vibrating. Scares some people, because if you are afraid of bugs it is quite freaky. But good for productivity. Homer reports hundreds of get ready, varieties of things you never heard of are on their way, thanks to the cattle eating a grass based diet.

Friday, July 8, 2011

shoulder high

At market we have seen corn for sale..and the vendors tell us they grow it local on their own farms. We are suspect, as we criss cross this area, driving past many farms with lots of corn one around here has corn ready! We all have corn planted, but I've not seen one farm that can pick anything yet.
We are growing a few different varieties of corn, including the only hybrid we have..Silver Queen Corn..not genetically modified but hybridized beginning 30+ years ago to produce sweet white corn, but not roundup ready! Corn hates the cold and loves the heat, most take between 2-3 months to grow and produce corn, hence my suspicions about "local" was mighty cold here 9 weeks ago, we had to start later than that! We do grow beans and squash in with them, and all are looking quite full with flowers all over.

We will have beans soon! The bees have been all over them, all different sorts of bees.

Plums full on too, we don;t spray so there are small creatures in some..
and the aisle/walkway between the beans and one of the corn patches. Now that drip tape is installed Homer has the time to plant all over the farm, and has done so. The bees are going crazy..

We keep adding supers and they keep filling them up! Adding more tomorrow afternoon..

Thursday, June 30, 2011

feeding babies not your own

Experts tell us that a cow will reject calves not born to them. That the mother cow can distinguish the smell and sight of her calf from any other, and will kick away an unrelated calf if it tries to nurse. We read an article about tricking a cow into believing that successive calves were hers, a way to keep milk production high even if the farmer goes on vacation and cannot milk the cow. The method required cover of night, penning of cow and calves, clandestine feedings until she was tricked into feeding 2 calves of different ages. Then periodically taking milk from her for our consumption.

With 700 chickens, 200 turkeys, 180 laying hens, 7 pigs, a whole herd of calves, an acre of vegetables, fruit trees, blueberries, geese, ducks, bees and a little dog too..we don't have time or energy to monitor and influence Sybil and the calves. But when Homer went to milk her the other day he came up dry. Her teats had no milk in them and we wondered how this had happened so quickly. Then we saw the reason why.

Our farming methods continue to be the same. We listen to the experts at lectures and conferences. We think about what people did for centuries. I reread Heidi..whose solution to regaining health was to go outside and climb around, collect flowers, be in the loving care of her grandfather, drink milk from grass fed cows..and contemplate how much of our intervention is really necessary. Part of why we have so many different things growing here is that we love it all: bees and honey, flowers and pollen, cows and milk/cheese/yogurt and meat, pigs and their easy recycling of everything extra or funky that we have on the farm, chickens and their fertilizing and meat, or their eggs, turkeys and the massive consumption of thistle, vegetables and their delicious taste, herbs and the wonderful addition to everything and all of these things keep us busy. Too busy to worry about any one thing, because as the focus on cows might require more time than we have, they are working it out themselves.

 Homer is seeing opportunity everywhere for multiple uses of the land. We have succession plantings everywhere with lots growing. Last fall, just before our pig roast, the hoop house was cleared of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, watermelon and cantalope plants. This year on their own all those plants have sprung up in that same area where the pigs consumed them. We grow open pollinated varieties, not hybrids, so these will grow back identical to the parent plants. A little extra bonus of growth, in an area we had not intentionally planted.

This year as the pigs have been digging up the back fence line Homer has been adding pockets of compost and putting seeds in them. There is not water that far from the house and hoophouse, but he has discovered that the line of trees and the hill above this area are providing a watering system of its own. Every morning it is as wet out there as if sprinklers had been running all night. Now buckwheat and melons are growing there.

The honeybees are happy with this arrangement. The hives are growing and we are adding supers every other week. Feels like prosperity.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

landing strip and chickory

We use the pigs for clearing land. Since we do not own a tractor this seems like a great way to get the work done, and we get the best pork ever out of it! The growth of weeds, shrubs, grass, clover, and small trees is about waist high. Homer rolls the pen over and they munch through all the growth and down to bare ground in one day. Soon this pen of 5 pigs will need to be split, and we will have groups of 2 keeping the fence line and key lines clear all over the farm. right now it looks like they are building a landing strip out there:

Meanwhile, the turkeys have uncovered a cornerstone of an old structure. Based on the fieldstone fence that is in our woods, there have been people on this property for many years..PA and these parts were settled in the 1700's..we do not know the long time history of this parcel of land, only that our house was built in the 1940's..but who knows what was going on here prior to that? We will ask our neighbors, and check courthouse records in the winter time.

Chickory is not, I believe, a native to the U.S. but we certainly get a bumper crop of it. And the bees are on it every day too. When people ask about the flavor of our honey..well, it is everything growing out there!

We are back in the swing with chicken, and will have good sized birds at market this week. In mid-April when Homer injured his back I had a mis-hap with a shipment of that Homer is fully the farmer again, I pick bugs off the potato and squash and cucumber plants, he tends the livestock. That works out better for all.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Australia changed my eating habits

My sister, Jenny Peters, took me on a 3 week trip to Austalia a couple of years ago. Sydney, the Whitsundays, Great Barrier Reef, oldest plant varieties in the world, beach houses, great was an amazing trip.

One of the items served at hotel breakfast buffets was a thing they called muselix. I've seen it here..packaged, registered trademark, dry, chalk like. Not in Australia.  Mixed in with a delicious yogurt, nuts, dried fruit and some sort of grain made for a delicious and hearty combination..not too much and I was filled up. Returned home, nothing but the chalky stuff again.

Found a couple of places with better granola, a cousin to this mix. But still not what I was looking for. And then I got Mark Bittman's books: How to Cook Everything and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. He has a start with this basic thing and then change it up approach..a simple, use what is fresh and/or in your cabinet style of cooking. A substitute anything and everything, end up with a delicious finish approach to cooking. Right up our alley, as we eat lots of what we grow and the closest, not great grocery store is 7 miles away and the real, have all you could want grocery store is 15 miles away..each way.

Last year at the Farmers on the Square market in Carlisle, I met Melanie from Keswick Creamery. And their rendition of yogurt, which tastes much like what I ate in Australia. The other day she had a long list of things not in her yogurt..thickeners and stabilizers and a bunch of others. I've known it was delicious and sure do not miss all those additives I can't pronounce.

We started making a granola or muselix mix here, and adding it to the sort of yogurt Keswick makes. It is delicious, filling, satisfying, yum. Here is how we do it. O, and even Homer, the breakfast in a box dude, eats this!

We combine the oats, raw cashews and raw slivered almonds on top of the stove (not the egg, that snuck in the photo) in a roasting pan, to just toast a little while the oven heats. Stir the oats and nuts so they don't burn while on stovetop.

It will look like this! Once the oven is at 325 degrees, pop the pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove, put the pan on a rack to cool. Add the bag of cranberries and stir it up. Side of pan hot! Don't touch!

Then add honey..ours is raw and full flavored..add maple syrup if you prefer..

Put the granola/muselix into an airtight container..we use a clear glass jar so we can see it, and when hungry put a little of your mix along with some frischkase (or yogurt) in a bowl and eat up! Yum!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

bee stings and diamond rings

Sunday evening as the sun was going down we added supers to the hives. The bees are clearly loving their life here, as they are filling up the comb like crazy. So we keep adding supers to the hive and letting the bees make more honey. Some day we will have to get honey out of there, but that is another time..

The hive was really crowded. It looked like they might be getting ready to swarm, as there was really not enough room for all the bees. They were hanging out on the front and all up the sides. There are no pictures, as we knew we needed to get the work done, quick. Claire ran the smoker and I had the hive tool that breaks the seal the bees have built. I ended up with a total of 5 stings, Claire had 2. Homer and Ryan were a little further away and did not get any.

Supers on, we admired the fireflies filling the night. Just a beautiful early summer night. Woke up the next morning and my ring finger on my right hand felt a little tight. I knew I had a bee sting at the tip. And as the morning progressed so did the swelling in my finger. And it really started to hurt.

Claire made me a boo-boo bunny like I used to have for her, and I iced it down all day. Took an antihistamine. And still it was swollen and painful.  The 2 rings I had on were 2 different sizes, so Homer cut the smaller one off. It helped for a bit, but then the diamond ring had to be cut off too.
Of the 5 bee stings, 2 are barely even noticeable. One is a little swollen but no pain at all. And then there is the one at the tip of my finger and the forearm just below..still hot, itchy, swollen, hurt! Not much done at all yesterday. Guessing the ones that hurt came from brand new bees, while the 3 that are not noticeable came from older bees.  Claire has requested a bee mask and gloves, says she really enjoyed it. We might need a larger smoker a wood stove sized one..

Sunday, June 19, 2011

knee high

When I was a girl I received a calendar as a gift. It was a calendar designed for children in the 10-12 year old range..lots of stickers, plenty of facts on most dates, room to commemorate all the important things happening. It probably set in place my love for had a most orderly flow to it, was colorful and I thought it was super cool. One of the summer time illustrations I remember was a fact about corn: "should be knee high by the 4th of July". We are growing the type of corn that grows like this..corn that is used for eating, corn that is for popping and corn that is for grinding into corn meal. right up next to the corn are planted squash or melons, and not far away are beans. And then sunflowers too..

It is unlikely that the honeybees will get in there and pollinate these. All are native to the United States, and developed using other techniques for fertilization. Corn is usually pollinated via the wind: the tassels and the corn silk get mixed up via summer breezes. The squash has a specific bee that moves their pollen around..early in the morning while the honeybee is still snoozing. And beans have a variety of little bees on them, bot usually honeybees.

Here is what is planted. We could hardly resist these old, non-hybrids..such great names..
Stowells Evergreen Corn
Blue Coco Bean
Lazy Wife Greasy Bean
Hopi Dye Sunflower

Silver Queen Corn (the one hybrid we grow..too delicious not to!)
Cherokee Cornfield Bean
Grey Tender Zucchini
Mammoth Russian Confectionary Sunflower

there are squash and melons in there too..

Banana Melon
Charentais Melon
noir de Carmes Melon
Honeydew Orangeflesh Melon
Queen Acorn Squash
Sugar Baby Watermelon
Northstar Watermelon
Small Sugar Pumpkin
Green Striped Cushaw Winter Squash
Delicata Zeppelin Winter Squash

so now we must be vigilant and pick the bugs off, so the plants can produce a harvest!

in the ground, with drip tape..

Saturday, June 18, 2011

maters, bees, chicks and stone fruit

The tomatoes are coming in..we have little green ones. The bee hive is full and needs more room, Homer got the foundations attached, tonight we will add these 2 onto the hive. Chickens are cleaning out from under the apple trees, and the plums look fantastic. Busy days at Sunnyside Farm!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

creepy crawlies

warning, don't read if spiders, snakes and bees upset you!
It has been beautiful weather here. Cool nights, comfortable days, no humidity, little rain. A great opportunity to overwork and end up with sore muscles and screaming head aches from not drinking enough water. Claire and I spent a few hours picking potato beetles and their larva off of 8 rows of potato beds. We discovered the beetles really love the Austrian Crescent, as the smaller, tighter, slightly curled leaves make it easier for the bugs to hide. Then to market, and back home and realization that not enough water had been consumed. The massage therapist at Farmers on the Square informed us that dehydration has the same effect as a hangover from drinking alcohol..and it sure felt like it. Drink yer H2O!

Found on the door of the truck:
and today's project, building more boxes for the overcrowded bees:
Warning!! Don't open the video if you do not like snakes!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Bee Barracks update

Earlier this year we posted a picture of this bee block. There are many variations to this all over the farm..small, not really noticeable, but have a big impact.

Honeybees like warm, sunny, puffy cloud, low wind kind of days. In the spring we have few of those around here, but we have lots of blustery, rainy, chilly..then scorching, parching days in the spring. Homer installed lots of bee blocks all over, the boy scouts added additional drilled tree trunks, and now the holes are filled. There must be at least a thousand of these holes drilled into chunks of wood installed all over the farm, and every hole is filled.

The Mason Bee is native to North America. Up early, even in nasty weather, they get out and get moving on to early spring blooms: for us, those are all sorts of stone fruit trees. Mason bees don't build a hive, but they do build their eggs little nests in predrilled holes. First a little nest that contains food, then the egg, then a bit of mud to seal it in, then another bit of food, an egg, a bit more mud. The males are closest to the world, the females are protected in the back. Eggs laid this year will not emerge until sometime next early spring, with the males exiting the hole first, then the females. The females gather pollen, lay the eggs, and a little less than a year later the cycle begins again.

Our fruit trees look very full of fruit this year,  Mason Bees sure help. Here are our Ozark Plums:

Yesterdays post (with the picture of the geese) showed a portion of a log that has been converted to a Mason Bee House. It is upright with a little roof to keep the rain out. Scouts made those! And those are peas climbing up all around the bee block on the inside of the hoop house in todays top photo.


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