Monday, April 27, 2009

Late-night delivery of nuc hives; the garden is taking shape

• A "bee-running" expedition on Saturday nets us four new hives.

John said it felt like we were running moonshine.

Saturday night, somewhere in the darkness of Blount County, we picked up four nuc hives of bees from Coley Odell, who had put them together for us. The hives were strapped down in the back of the truck and made it to the farm. We pulled them off the truck and set them up on their hive stands, stuck an extra box on top of each, put some feed on the front, and then waited for them to wake up on their new homes on Sunday morning.

It all went well, and now there are six hives in the fold, four for me and two for John.

We took a look inside the hives on Sunday afternoon. Coley had done his work well, and the nuc hives that John had bought and saw plenty of brood cell and no problems.

We also looked inside the hives of package bees that I installed three weeks ago, and we found much that was comforting -- lots of brood cell and even some nicely capped honey. (See the picture to the right.) I decided to put a queen excluder on top of the third box and a box of drawn comb on top of that. Now that the feeders are off, that hive is ready to make honey.

The situation was essentially the same with the second hive of packaged bees, although for some reason there seem to be fewer bees at work. Still, there were plenty with brood cell, larva, pollen and honey. I slipped a deep box of mostly drawn comb on top of the bottom box to see if the bees would go down and start working it. I also put a queen excluder on top of the third box and made the top box the hive's first honey super.

Both hives give every indication of being productive with no apparent tendencies to swarm, so I will check them this weekend and see what kind of progress they are making.

Meanwhile, the garden is coming under control.

I spent a good bit of time Sunday taking up the string markers where where the rows of plants have become visible and tilling out the weeds where it was safe to do that. To me, that says the garden is beginning to grow much as I had planned it, and the soil, the plants, the water and God's miracles of biology have to take over. I become more of a secondary player in this drama.

John and I are planning a second raised bed -- this one to be filled with herbs -- and we took advantage of my master carpentry skills (ha!) to put together with some old wood from the smokehouse and the barn. As long as you're not finicky about the way the wood looks, the fact that there might be a few 40-year-old rusty nails here and there in it, and the sizes to which the boards need to be cut, that kind of wood is perfect for our project.

This evening after supper, Sally and I trekked back to the garden where we put some okra and cucumber see in the group, dug the holes for the feet of the new raised bed box and put that into the ground.

So, here's how the garden is shaping up (I have renumbered the row, beginning at the top -- north -- end):

Row 1: yellow corn
Row 2: yellow corn
Row 3: yellow corn
Row 4: beans
Row 5: beans
Row 6: horticulture beans (planted Saturday, April 25)
Row 7: white corn (to be planted next week)
Row 8: white corn (to be planted next week)
Row 9: white corn (to be planted next week)
Row 10: tomatoes
Row 11: beans (striped half runners)
Row 12: okra, cucumbers
Row 13: onions, potatoes (planted March 22)
Row 14: potatoes (Red russets, French fingerlings, Yukon gold from Colorado)
Row 15: potatoes (legacy)
Row 16: peas, potatoes (I may put something else in between these two)

And, finally, as usual: pictures, taken Sunday, April 26.


Joanne Peyton said...

I'm really enjoying your little blog! First time beekeeper in Alaska, and I'm picking up little bits of info from you. The photos are amazing!

William Savage Collins said...

So, on the feeding part, is this similar to the mixture for humming birds? I've never quite, made the intentional effort really, figured the mixture for humming birds, keep it fresh, etcetera.

I'd like to come and visit your garden. I'm mowing lawns for $$ and want to supplement my skills with gardening skill but have no experience. My wife keeps wanting me to plant a garden; it will be small and a total experiment if I do. Yours is so neat and organized. I'd like to visit, at your convenience, if you'd allow me to invite myself out.

My sense is this is a growing activity?
Did I just make a pun? Or, did I just make a metaphor? Another 50 minutes on the couch. Oook!