Saturday, April 12, 2008

A new queen for Hive 1

Hive 1 got a new queen yesterday. Jim Brown and I opened the hive a couple of weeks ago and decided that the evidence was there was either no queen or that she was slowing down so much, she simply wasn't producing. I called Coley O'Dell, master beekeeper, and ordered one. He suggested that when she showed up and we were able to install her, we should take a frame of brood cells from Hive 2 and put it in Hive 1 to give it a bit of a boost.

The new queens that Coley had ordered showed up this week, and Jim and I did what Coley suggested last night. We looked through Hive 1 and could not find the queen or any evidence that she was around -- no brood cell. When we were confident she wasn't there, we opened Hive 2 and found a frame that had a lot of brood. We took a frame from Hive 1 and exchanged it. Then we put a spacer between the first box and second box of the hive and placed the queen -- still in her protective box, of course -- in between the two boxes.

All this was done during the late afternoon and some fairly stiff winds. Bees dislike wind and tend to get very ill if exposed to it too much. I must say, however, that the bees did very well last night and were generally cooperative with what we had to do.

Jim and I will take a look inside the hive in a few days to make sure the queen is out of her box and has been accepted by the hive.

Meanwhile, after some rain and a bit of wind, today (Saturday, April 12) was spectacular on the farm. The sky was blue with lots of high clouds, the temperatures stayed in the 60s, and the wind whipped around all day. Sally and I did a lot of yard work -- mowing, cleaning, trimming, raking, etc. I also did some tilling and evened out the garden to some extent.

The forecast for early next week is cold, nearly freezing weather, so that precluded putting much stuff in the garden. Still, I couldn't resist stopping by the farmer's coop this morning and getting another variety of potatoes -- Kennebec red. Here's what the Washington State University web site has to say about Kenebecs:

- Tubers are "elliptical to oblong, medium thick; smooth creamy buff skin; shallow eyes; white flesh.... High yielding fast growing variety, widely adapted. Requires close planting (15 to 20 cm between plants) and vine killing to avoid producing oversized and rough tubers. Excellent storage quality. Long dormancy period. High total solids." Primary uses: boiling, baking, chipping, and frying.

I bought a couple of pounds, which took up only about a third of Row 4. So this is how the garden lines up to date:
• Row 1: potatoes -- bananas, Red Russet, French fingerling (March 31)
• Row 2: peas (March 31); potatoes -- Yukon gold (April 7)
• Row 3: lettuce; red onions (April 7)
• Row 4: potatoes -- Kenebec (April 12)(eastern third)
These rows are pictured to the left (looking east), and it's apparent that not much is happening above ground right now. I hope the right things are going on below the surface.

Now that it is mid-April, some of the more beautiful blooms are appearing. The dogwoods are out and about to peak. We have a lilac bush in the back yard, and that is blooming now for the third year in a row after years of being dormant. I have seen the first bachelor buttons and buttercups in the pasture. It's a wonderful, colorful time of the year, and a clear day like today makes you appreciate it even more.

And to add to the joy, baseball season is in full swing, and the Cardinals, surprisingly, are winning.

Later in the afternoon, after I had finished with the work, I walked around some with the camera. There is always something to take a picture of, so I tried to include a lot of what I had just talked around. Everything is in the slideshow below.


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