Monday, May 30, 2016

What Bee Happening in the Garden?

Wow, the bees that we purchased locally just a week ago
are sure more active than the package bees we brought home.
This was not a good situation but they worked so hard
in just a week that they started running out of room in the
hive box.  When this happens they start building what is
called Burr Comb which is comb built outside of what 
is efficient- on top of our frames in this situation.

It's not tragic, we just had to remove it and put in 
additional frames so they can build as they are supposed 
to.  If there are gaps, they will fill it themselves.
To be efficient, they need their frames so nothing is wasted.

Yeah, my suit is huge.  My veil and helmet is not really zipped 
closed in this photo.  We started unzipping since the 
suits were hot and we were outside the bee area.
Not that my hat fits well, in fact it does not; however,
it normally sits well on my head.  Of course I also 
would have my gloves on too.

This is the burr comb we found.  
We smoked the bees to get them down into the frames,
removed the burr comb (two larger pieces and a small third) and brushed
the bees off before quickly placing the frames and
the hive top.  We made sure to remove the burr comb
to a place that would not attract robber bees or predators.
Now we know how fast this new group is we will keep up.

Our side garden, mostly salad items, is doing very well.
There are two raised beds, one with a variety of lettuce
and spinach plus we started cucumbers since the lettuce
days will soon be over as the heat ramps up.  So far
we have had rain, rain and more rain.
We have some volunteer beans and tomatoes coming up too.
The tomatoes will need to be moved but the beans will
be OK growing with the cucumbers.

The large garden is not doing as well due to this,
the peppers are slow but the tomatillos seem to be 
doing a bit of growing.  I just added squash as well.

The other side garden has radish, kale, collards,
cabbage, cilantro and swiss chard.  Not shown
are the other two beds:  horseradish and potatoes.
We are adding another bed next to this and yet another
to plant the asparagus in.  

I've also added to the flowers:  
a mountain mint that is well behaved and grows in a clump,
blanket flower, milkweed, black eyed Susan and other 
Grow Native perennials.  All for the bees and butterflies of course.

We had some family and friends over yesterday so today, Monday,
was a yard work day for us.  I weed whipped, watered, pulled
weeds, worked bees and did an entire day of laundry!
I also had to cut back brush and unwind the honeysuckle 
that insists on twisting around anything it can.

I also had to empty out the old turtle sand box
(Taylor is now 11 and probably can't remember the last
time she played with it).  It filled with water and leaves
when the top blew off so I bailed out water until I 
could tip it up.  I am certain it is a breeding ground for
mosquitos, as is our poor broken garden wall pond which
we need to pull out and replace- before the frogs get 
in it next year.  I love the tadpoles and won't hurt them.
I'll get some of those discs that are OK for amphibians bu
sill the mosquito larve.

My husband was busy cutting our yard and the lot
next door plus tilling up some of the ground for
the new bed.  It's a big job and we had a great break
before the next round of rains this week.

Well, enough for today.
Maybe it will be good to go back to work so I can rest!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Honey, What's all That Buzzing?

My husband brought home two more nucs (colonies) of bees
over the weekend to replace the hive we initially lost.  We
ordered two before we found some of the second hive; however,
that hive is not as strong so this should help.

They were pretty agitated after riding in the truck so we used
some smoke to calm them down and transfer them into the hives. 

There are still some in the nuc box, and many in the 
void created by the box ends.  We had to pry them
open and shake them into the hive.  There were a few
stragglers that I shook out and quickly put the lid back on.

We inspected our existing hives and found either the queen
or evidence of the queen (babies).  Hopefully they will build
up their population sufficiently before winter and make 
enough honey to eat until Spring.  We can help them out
with food but it would be good if they made enough themselves.

We are not experienced enough to know everything we need
to know; however, the person my husband obtained the bees 
from turns out to have been in the same industry and they have
mutual acquaintances.  He spent five hours walking my husband 
through his set up (which is extensive) and how the process
should work.  He's been raising bees since he was 16, now in 
this 60s, and offered to help any time- and he is only about 
20 minutes from our house!  

We have about 20-30,000 bees now.  Most of them will not leave the hive; 
however, there are plenty that will. As I was watering flowers yesterday
I noticed that there were several bees circling me, trying to get water.  They
were not aggressive and didn't have any intention of hurting me.  They 
also buzzed me on the porch and wanted to land on me constantly.
Then I realized I must look like a giant flower with my light pink
T-shirt on.  I quickly changed to muddy brown and the buzzing stopped.

The property two lots up is for sale. I sure hope they like bees. 
And chickens, chicken tractors and coops! Up on the ridge top most
of the neighbors, regardless of "subdivision rules," do what they want
and no one complains as long as you don't bother anyone else.  We have
 a pretty good mix here too from carpenters, two nurses, engineer, and 
those that garden and like to build things.   

 More and more people from higher end communities are moving out this way.  
It has gone from pickups to BMWs, probably those that want a more quiet area and definitely the horse crowd.  We have a couple of horse farms, 
one very high tech, on the county road plus people with their own 
horses.   There are three or four $1 million plus properties within 
three or four miles from us.

I am still struggling with some health issues, more on that later but
I start insulin on Thursday.  It may be a temporary situation since
I have done everything right with meals- no cheating and eating donuts
which I dearly miss!  I have found some sugar free cookies that work into
my carb count plus fat free-sugar free pudding in case I have a sweet
craving.  I've lost almost 55 lbs but will need to start exercising every
day once I start insulin so it won't store in fat cells.  I won't have far
to travel since we have almost a complete gym in the basement.
(You'd think I'd use it more since it is only a trip downstairs!)

It should rain most of the week so a good time to get started!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Arden Usher

My mother-in-law, Arden Usher, was laid to rest on Tuesday, May 10, at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. We had a visitation at Nieburg-Vitt Thiebes funeral home in Pacific, MO with Mass at St James Catholic church in Catawissa.

We received a beautiful rose from Pauline and Bob Masson, friends from our Pacific, MO PCAC volunteer work and my husband's ham radio club. 

They selected it so our bees would enjoy it for years to come. 

 My son, Sean, flew in from Seattle and it was very nice to see him after a couple of years away. 

Sean Usher, Tom Usher, Dan Usher, Gina Usher,
Kathy Usher, Taylor Usher, Becky Usher and
Becky's boyfriend, John, behind her.

After the funeral the family, Fr. Mark and my daughter's boyfriend, John, had lunch at Joe Boccardi's which has just reopened after a complete removel due to the floods in December. We then gathered with family and friends at Dan's place which is next door to us.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Big Changes

What can you see as you look to the left of our fountain?
It's a wonderful thing, well, maybe our neighbors won't think so
but it will only be there for a few weeks.

I am sure a few of them are wondering.
You see, it's the only flat spot we have.
What is it?
A Chicken Tractor!!!
(you might hear a band playing or imagine confetti floating in the sky)

The awful smell is gone.
The twice daily litter cleaning, gone.
All out in the tractor.

They will stay locked up in the coop area for a few days
to get them used to the new food and water location and
then we'll let them out to peck around in the grass and 
run around looking for bugs and the like. You can raise and lower 
the wheels so it is elevated or flat on the ground.
The entire thing is a cage so nothing can get in or out.

My husband's boss loaned it to us so we don't have to make
a coop addition yet. 

We also have a compost barrel now.  The compost
pile is pretty far from the house, up by the garden
and wasn't easy to access to throw away the daily egg
shells and vegetable scraps.  This one will sit closer to the house.

We had to bit the bullet and get a new tiller.
The old one isn't working and since we didn't have
a garden last year due to the rains, it has 
completely covered itself in grasses.
We found this one on sale.

The roses are doing well so far

as are the iris.

Hopefully the bees will discover the bee balm

and the blackberry blossoms that are starting to open.

The peony plants are smaller this year, maybe 
due to the cooler spring with all the rains we have had.

The bees seem to be OK.  We think we have saved at least
one Queen and maybe another.  One hive is coming along better
than the other.  My husband will check today to see if he sees
progress.  We are expecting new bees towards the end of the month.

More details later but we have had a couple of setbacks.

My mother in law passed away on Tuesday night.
We were able to sit most of the day at the nursing home with her.
She has been there several years and was pretty non-responsive
for quite a long time.  My son is flying in for the funeral which 
is scheduled next week at Jefferson Barracks national cemetery.

Secondly, I was diagnosed with diabetes, probably from the 
prednisone I had been taking for a few months.  They say if you
genetically lean towards diabetes, it can flip you over.  My sugar
was very high and they sent me home with medicine; however, 
no guidance whatsoever!  I get classes today but it's been a week
and I have no idea what to eat or if I am high or low.  It's not a good
thing.  A one page diet example would have been nice.  I looked on
line and found lots of diets but I need one that will also work with 
the colitis since they seem to want me to eat different things.
I'll work it all out today.