Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Celebrating diversity and making lemonade...

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A Bucket of Bees!


I knew it was going to happen...my bees swarmed!  I had seen the swarm cells.  Swarm cells are used to make a new queen.  A beehive makes swarm cells when the hive is too crowded.  The "old" queen takes off with worker bees to find a new place to build a hive.  Most of the bees will leave in the prime (or first) swarm.  Sometimes, there will be smaller afterswarms.  

This is how it all went down...I was out mowing and I noticed this swarm hanging onto a branch.  It was hanging very low, only about 4-5 feet off the ground.  As I had said previously, I knew this was going to happen because I had noticed the swarm cells in the hive. 
I should have split the hive but I have been so busy this spring with getting the garden ready, that I have not had time to stop and get a hive all put together.  Also, I was getting ready to go out of town and I figured if they swarmed while I was away, I wouldn't have a chance to get them anyway.  But, as luck would have it, I did see the swarm and I actually had a little free time that afternoon.  I called my friend, Alison, with the Moscow Bee Company.

Alison brought a nuc box and was able to capture the swarm.
Then, Mark's worker that I had brought out to see the swarm noticed another smaller swarm (afterswarm) up higher in the tree.  Alison had this fancy bucket that she used to capture that swarm...
Alison kept that swarm and I headed to Spence to get a langstroth hive for the swarm that she put into the nuc box.  I took out some of the frames and tried to "dump" out as many of the bees that I could.  Then, I just turned it upside down and left it for a little bit to allow the last of the bees to crawl down into their new home.
So, here it is...the new hive.  I went in to check in on it the next evening and I saw the queen in there.  I wasn't too worried but it was nice to see her.  
I will be keeping an eye on my top bar hive.  There are still lots of bees in there but I am also excited to try a new type of beekeeping in the langstroth hive.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Pallet gardening

In the Garden

My friend, Joe, sent me a pic of a pallet garden a couple of months ago.  I thought it was such a neat idea!  Eventually, I want to make more raised beds for the garden but buying all that wood and hardware cloth gets expensive.  

Side note, the reason I am looking to make the raised beds is mostly to keep the voles from eating my garden.  However, voles have not been a problem in the garden that I thought they would be.  Last fall, I put down cardboard and then mounded up lots of hay on top of it.  The idea was to kill the grass.  This was left all winter and this spring with the melted snow and rain, it was really wet under the cardboard.  I think this kept the voles away.  It was too wet under there for them to want to tunnel anywhere.  This was a pleasant surprise!

Okay, back to the pallet garden.  This seemed like a great way to make a little garden area for lettuce.  Since the pallets are not really deep, you need to plant mostly shallow rooted crops.  I am trying lettuce, spinach, cabbage, kale, celery, and green beans this year.  Overall, I figured out that it costed me $8 per pallet to put the hardware cloth on the bottom.

I got some free pallets (make sure they are heat treated and not chemical treated).  Then, I did buy hardware cloth and put that on the bottom.  Overall, I figured out that it costed me $8 per pallet to put the hardware cloth on the bottom.  In a couple of articles that I saw, they put landscape fabric on the bottom but I didn't care if the roots went down into the ground (I just wanted to keep the voles from tunneling in).  

This shows the bottom of the pallet with the hardware cloth on it.
Pallet garden when it was first planted...lettuce, spinach, lettuce, celery, lettuce, and 2 cabbage.

Same pallet as above a little later...
Then, one day it snowed!  Okay, it wasn't really snow.  It was cottonwood seeds.  Another side note, I thought they were birch trees and I tried to tap them this spring...no wonder I did not have much luck...

These are the pallets for the green beans.  I will only plant where the drip hose is laid out (rows 1, 3 and 5 of the pallets) and mulch it with hay once the plants get up...

Since we are talking about pallets, I thought I would share a pic of the pallet compost bin I made last fall.  I have been putting all my grass clippings in it.
New pile just built on the far left.  More finished compost on the right...but still cooking...
It seems to be working really well and gets super hot (see below).  The biggest limiting factor with the open compost bin is keeping it wet enough.  When I first build a pile, I layer the grass and then add some coffee grounds and wood shavings mixed with rabbit poop.  I use the hose and water between each layer.  Then, I turn it once a week.  After the week is over and I am turning it, I notice that there are lots of areas in the middle that are dry.  I was really surprised so I add more water.  The microbes cannot break it down if there is not enough moisture for them to work.