This is the time of year at the farm when we just don’t know how we will get everything done given that there are only 24 hours in a day and some of that needs to be restful. We are working in between the rain drops these days as we have continued to have our share of wet weather which makes it challenging to do everything we need to do in the fields.
In addition to all the leafy plants that are starting to thrive in the cool season plot, Dave has a nice assortment of peppers as well as eggplants planted. Despite the wet, the cuke seeds have germinated in their mounds to nearly 100% and their surrounding wire trellises are installed as well after a few repairs on the ones we stored in the barn from last year. The potatoes are ready to bloom which the bees will enjoy. Best of all, the orchard trees seem to have done ‘okay’ despite that late winter cold snap. Plums are evident here…in various stages of coloration as some are still green and others are starting show their purple color.
Not a whole lot of peaches to brag about but one tree in particular has quite a few. Even more fun than that is to see the pears. Many people might be surprised that pears actually grow in an upside down fashion until their weight makes the branch bend downwards. Here is one that is farther along and has already started to color and is weighted down. The apple trees are struggling with the weight of their fruit in this wet and windy environment and we continue to struggle as well to keep them all in an upright position! Besides staking, we will also cull apples from these trees to help them along.The bees have cause for continued excitement as we decided we needed to add another hive stand to the apiary for the ease of a future expansion. The reason for this was that early last week I discovered, upon inspection, that one of our nucs had created 10-12 re-queening supercedure cells in its nest. Yikes! This means that it was not planning to swarm away but rather wanted to replace its queen with a new one and in doing so was covering its bets with multiple cells. The realization of this sent me into a bit of a panic since I could actually try to take advantage of the extra queen cells and do a split if I had all the equipment ready. With no space for additional hive boxes, I called upon farmer Dave to help me out. We devised a list of necessary hardware and he went off to procure the goods and that evening we made another 8 foot long hive stand to add to the apiary. After unloading the truck, we went about building the stand together…something every husband and wife should experience together as a project! 😉 Our plan for early the next morning was to temporarily seal off the second swarm colony in order to get it moved to the new stand without too much of a distraction. Once we had the new stand in place, (not an easy task given that it needed to be leveled in all directions!) I was ready to open up the nuc that was about to re-queen itself and add a secondary new nuc box to the new stand. Here I am getting ready to do this… But wouldn’t you know, in less than 24 hours time, the bees had already liberated their queen cells and had started the process of deciding which one would prevail. It would not have been a good time to reorganize them at this point so I quickly closed them up and let nature take its course without my intervention. This colony will now need 3 weeks time before my next inspection to see if all is well and the new queen is producing as expected.
This was not the end of the day tho since with the new hive stand, my intention was to alleviate the crowding on the first stand. Moving colonies has to be done with great care though…the thought is that you can move them no more than two feet or else you must move them 2 miles. Our new stand was a bit more than two feet away so I moved one hive to a temporary location between the two stands (about an 18″ move) where it will remain for two weeks until I move it again, another 18″ to the new stand. In order to help the bees reorient with this slight adjustment (their brains are acutely mapped to their location) I put a branch in front of their opening so they would make note that something was different when they left the colony and could re-map for their return. Oh, my, how intriguing the bees can be! Here are the results of the move. I continue to build new bee equipment as fast as I can and am so glad I have the new workshop in the barn to help me with all the assembly and painting. I’m pleased to have a new jig to help with the frame assembly and the tools to make that all go smoother. This is the wiring jig after I’ve built the frame. Next is the crimper which is a clever tool that takes the straight wire and crimps it to cause tension, therefore tightening the slack. After the frame is built and wired, I add the wax foundation and embed the wire with a special tool called a star embedder. I find great satisfaction in building the bee equipment. It is a good thing though that we are getting so much help from Coulter as he as taken up the mantle at the farm. He loves digging so much that when we take him to the park he just wants to DIG! He also helped out on storm clean up with his own broom. Of course he loves nothing better than blowing the dandelion seed heads! As adorable as he is, Coulter can’t compete with his mom making the news today…She was quoted in this New York Times article that was written about one of her students. The back story to this was the student, when approached by the NYTimes for a story was told he could chose two of his teachers to be interviewed as part of the story…and he chose Kate as one of them! Such a cool young man…he chose wisely! The article made quite a splash as I found it in my print copy this morning! Much to do in the coming weeks as we are picking strawberries from the young plants and eyeing the blueberries which are starting to blush with some color already. We also celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary this weekend with breakfast on the screened porch. Ahh, a quiet moment together to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments…on to the next year!
Great post – good news after good news!!!
Love the NYT article – the ONLY thing that would have made it better…a photo of Mrs. Ward!!!
Let me add…Happy 38th Anniversary!!!! (We celebrated our 36th on Tue – I do believe that you are my only friend who has been married longer than i!) May my favorite farmers have many more happy and healthy years together. love!
I love following your blog (and have finally figured out how to post a reply)! some thoughts-
1. i continue to be terrified of bees and although i am fascinated by your activities with the hives, i am no less terrified!
2. coulter is so ADORABLE!!
3. go mrs. ward!! (i would love to find this NYT article to read online- do you have a link?)
4. i was so sorry to hear the news about buttercup…
5. happy anniversary to you and dave! 🙂
Fran, I loved your list of thoughts here! You and I are somewhat in the same boat since I’m not sure how my replies in this section get sent to you. I may cc you via regular email as an assurance that you get this! haha!
1. I will not try to convince you that you should want to explore the bees at a closer rate than my photos. I’m just pleased if you might be interested in seeing them from afar via my story and photos…some really cool pix to come soon!
2. Beyond crazy about this kid! Coulter is amazing!
3. Mrs. Ward is the bomb…if that is still something to say and mean it in a positive way! The link to this story is in the blog in a way that requires you to click on a spot that has the word “this” highlighted. If you are reading in dim light, it may not appear to you so I will send link to your e-mail. This student is worthy of following his blog….I just signed up myself and when I did, it asked how I found out about it and I replied: “I’m Mrs. Ward’s mother, ;-)” hahaha!
4. I know, poor Buttercup. We miss her but love the Princess Bride reference so always think of her foundly!
5. We had a fun anniversary…maybe we will celebrate 40 with a party and will hope that you and Kris will find STL a destination again at that point! But, know that you are welcome to come see us any time!
Hope this note finds it’s way to you! Just in case, I’m gonna copy and send via e-mail! XOXO