Monday, March 24, 2008

State of the hives (Easter), and other matters

The bees are flying, anxious for the blooms to open. My friend Jim Brown and I opened the hives yesterday (Sunday, March 23) and found some problems and some good news.

The problems were in the small hive where there were almost no brood cells. That means there is no queen or that she has stopped laying, and that means she has to be replaced. The good news is that there are still a fair number of bees in the hive, and if I can get a new queen in soon, the hive has a chance of being productive this year. I called Coley O'Dell, a premier Blount County beekeeper, and ordered a queen last night. He said he hoped the queens he was ordering would be available April 5.

The good news is that the other hive is strong and ready to go. We found plenty of brood cells in the bottom three boxes of that hive, and the bees were feisty and full of life. They are ready to get to work. With any luck at all, they should be fairly productive this year. The only thing that will slow them down is that they will have to draw out some comb in order to store the honey, which takes extra time and energy away from their honey production. Beekeepers refer to drawn comb as "pure gold," and this is why. Still, there are plenty of bees in the hive, so we should be getting some honey by midsummer.

The farm. Easter cam extraordinarily early this year (the earliest in nearly 100 years, I'm told), and the farm is not yet in full bloom. The day yesterday was a bit chilly and windy, but by noon the air was crisp and the sky clear. All in all, a beautiful day, as the pictures above will validate.

I had the tiller out yesterday, and after we had finished with the bees, I couldn't resist breaking the group. I had marked off a 10 x 25-foot plot just east of the hives where Sally and I will put some day lilies. Those flowers thrive on full sun and neglect, and in that spot they are likely to get both. We bought some lilies during our visit to the Biltmore in Asheville last week, and I picked up some more at a local shop this weekend. We'll see what happens.

Our friend Sam Love promised to show up this week with his plow to give the garden a going over. I have plotted out a space more than twice the size of what we did last year, so the plans are ambitious. But spring is here, and all things are possible.

Opening day. And speaking of spring and all things possible -- life begins again this Sunday, less than one week and counting. My calendar and body clock tell me that the official start of the baseball season is upon us. The beloved Cardinals made changes during the off-season that are exciting and unsettling, and that will be fun to watch. The Yankees have a new manager, and the Red Sox have essentially the same strong team. The Mets are everybody's favorites, as they usually are this time of year, and it will be fun to watch them fail, or not.

My friend George Rable is a Reds fan and as such refuses to speculate or get his hopes up. He is rational and wise.

No comments: