Saturday, May 23, 2015


I have a stack of medium supers waiting behind my hives to use as tall shims for when the flow abates and I need to feed the bees.   Eric built these for me.  He built a great jig for the handles.  Handles are good. 

I put a jar of 1:1 sugar syrup upside down over the screened opening in the center of my inner covers and then one of these supers around it.   It protects the jar, the bees can't build comb in it and when the bees are ready to start making me lots of honey, I can put frames in them and use them for honey supers.     I can put extra frames in them for storage if I need to - the jars are about 3 frames width, so I can still store 6-7 frames in each box if I needed to. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Potato Bed

The potatoes are thrilled with the weather - they've really taken off in the past couple of weeks.

We even found a couple of potatoes we missed in the bed that had been covered by the hoop house all winter.   They were sprouting nicely.   I transplanted them here.

There's a bit of space left in this bed.  I'll put some sweet potatoes in as soon as they sprout - they've been lollygagging around, waiting for it to really warm up and stay that way.   Soon....

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bees in a Row

I got all four hives settled with their bees.  The flow has been good so far this year and I'm hoping that each colony will fill 2 boxes with brood.

We're going with solid bottom boards this year and that seems to have made an immediate difference in how well the bees build up.   Who knew??

We decided to put the long hive in the row with the others.   Our strongest nuc happened to go in there and I'm glad of it because that colony might just be strong enough to make it through the winter in that box.   We'll see....

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Row Covers

We have never been able to grow anything in the cabbage family here.   We have a multitude of cabbage moths just waiting to pounce and as soon as things are planted, they are covered with cabbage worms.

Early this spring, Eric got me this handy dandy quick hoop row cover to see if we could actually grow brassicas without also growing a million cabbage worms, too.  

It totally worked.    Kept all the cabbage moths away and I now have cauliflower, broccoli, chard and cabbages growing like gangbusters under that protective cover.

Eric got this one at Menard's.   It's the 12-18" high version, 10' long - just long enough for one of my raised beds. [I'm hoping to find a taller version next year so the broccoli isn't so crowded.]  It was easy for me to set out all by myself.   The black net is reasonably strong and I expect it will last for several years. 

That is a real live cauliflower in there - almost ready to eat.   I'm so excited!

I'm definitely going to try to get at least one more for next year.  Then I can separate the short stuff and the tall stuff. 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

White Violets

This was a good year for violets.   They bloom at slightly different times.  The weather was perfect for the white ones in the woods down the way this year.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Sycamore Bark

If you've been reading the blog for any length of time, you'll know that I fangirl over trees a lot. 

I am in love with sycamore trees.   They give our southern Indiana woods a very different character from the darker northern oak-filled woods. 

These are the shaggy trunks of younger sycamores. They are maturing, but no longer saplings.   I love that texture.  And those colors.   And the white peeking through. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015


With all the spring rain came a lot of large puddles.   The spring peepers love these temporary roadside pools and lay long strings of eggs.

This year things stayed wet enough that the tadpoles hatched [and plenty of algae bloomed].

Friday, May 8, 2015

Lean On Me

I caught this pic a few weeks ago before the leaves came on.   One tree has fallen squarely on another - the roots pulled out of the ground.   The smaller, lower tree has been bent over, but not killed.   Its branches have embraced the other tree and are growing around it.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Crabapple Blooms

Our crabapple tree is blooming.  It's glorious.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Slippery Elm Seeds

Every spring I notice something different in the woods.   Probably because things come on differently every spring.   The weather is fickle and a properly timed cool stretch slows things down so that even I can't miss certain things.

These are slippery elm [Ulmus rubra] seeds.   The bark of this tree is often used medicinally, to aid in the healing of digestive troubles.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dogwood and Redbud Together

I was lucky enough to find a place last week where the dogwoods and redbuds were blooming together in the woods.    This is my favorite spring combination - it means winter is seriously over.

The weather was cool enough that we had more than a week of them blooming together.   Such a nice way to wake up every day.

Friday, May 1, 2015

New Bees

Time for the new bee season to start.   Since all my bees died during the winter, we're starting new again this year.   I installed two packages on April 27.    We got them from Kelley Bee.  [Note:  When they give you a date, that's the ship date, not the arrival date, contrary to what they say in the literature they send.]

Eric suited up, but I didn't.   Package bees aren't defending anything, so they're really docile.   It's great to have one person suited up just in case, but I really like working the bees with minimal protection, so I just wore what I had on. 

Here I am dumping the bees in the first hive.    Lots of bees flying around.   One landed on my ear and another on my nose, then wandered over to my eye.   Neither stung,  though I admit I was thinking, 'Dang.  That's really gonna hurt.'   [I did get pinged once later on the thumb.  No biggie.]

I had a good plan going in and had drawn a pic of the stacks and had a list of what we needed to do.    Lily took the pictures, kept notes and read off the directions.  Eric lifted stuff, handed me tools and brushed that one bee off my face.

We had a lot of frames with comb from the deadouts, so I used all of those frames for these packages.   I put an empty frame in the center and hung the queen cage there.   [There just wasn't enough room to stick her between two drawn frames.  We tried.]

When I checked the queens three days later, both hives had drawn quite a bit of new comb in that frame.   I'll definitely do that again.  

I made a couple of changes in the setups this year.   I changed over to solid bottom boards.   We'll add slatted racks just above those when the weather gets hot.  Then I put the deep for the brood, then a 2" shim [the green one] that I use to give me a bit of extra space for dry sugar.    I had saved all of the sugar/candy board from the deadouts, put it in the freezer for the rest of the winter, and fed it to the packages [after defrosting].  I had a gallon of sugar and honey that I split between the new hives.

Then I put on the inner cover [entrance up] with a medium above that so I can feed syrup from jars later.   I put the telescoping cover over that. 

You can see how the hives look in this shot.   The new hives have the empty packages in front of them.  

The remaining hives will get nucs in a couple of weeks.  We'll put one nuc in the long box on the table, and the other nuc in the center deep hive.  

I have one more space for a hive in the row and I think I'll save that for extra supers.   If I keep a bottom board and top cover on the stack, that'll keep moths and vermin out and the supers will be handy for later. 

The bees seem happy with their new homes and are bringing in the pollen.   I checked the queens after three days.   I released one, but the other was so close to being released by the bees, I decided to let them finish.   I'll check them on Sunday to make sure the queens are laying. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Tulip Poplar Leaf Bud

One of the best nectar plants in this area for bees is the very common tulip poplar [Indiana's state tree].   I noticed the leaf buds coming on fast last weekend. 

These are not dainty buds.  Each one is at least the size of your thumb.   The flowers, when opened, are the size of large teacups.   The squirrels around here love them.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Beech Leaf Buds

The beech leaves will be coming on soon.  The old coppery leaves of younger beech trees stay on long into the winter.  Then one day in early spring, the leaves turn ghostly white and start to fall.   Within a few short weeks, coppery needles form at the end of every twig.   Those are this year's new leaves.  
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