Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Bounty

Summer in Iowa has fully arrived, and with it lots of things blooming and growing.  It's a busy time, with many fruits and vegetables coming on and needing picking.
First for the bees, though.  We had quite a blow come through last night with a strong cold front bringing 70 mile per hour winds and heavy rain.  Needless to say, I was quite happy to see the hives still standing erect after the storm. Bees early this morning were not very active, but at least one hardy worker was busy gathering pollen from the spiderwort.

Other prairie plants are blooming as well.  We did not do a burn of the prairie segments this year, and with the late arrival of spring it has taken awhile for the new plants to break through the dead growth but now they are looking lush.  The butterfly milkweed is certainly doing its job.

Blueberries are now ripening, about two weeks later than normal for the early varieties.  Winter damage has taken its toll and we will probably only see about half our normal crop.  Red raspberries are beginning to ripen, helped along by the honeybees which really enjoyed the blooms.  Black raspberries are ripe and we will be picking about every other day for a week or so.


Kathy's vegetable garden is looking great.  We have enjoyed some very good early lettuce, onions, radishes, cabbage and peas among other things.  She's disappointed we won't have ripe tomatoes for the fourth of July, but we will eventually have a great crop. 
The vineyard likewise is doing well.  With all the rain, some are completely splitting open.  Otherwise, we should have a fairly decent harvest.  It's a fun time of year, with changes in the yard taking place every day.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Honey Flow

The honey flow is definitely on.  I wondered today if I will ever have a season where all the hives come through winter with a queen and each fills out honey supers.  What a harvest that would be.  This year, I'll likely have to settle for honey from one strong hive, which we are probably fortunate to have.
Bees are clearly all over the red raspberries.  They love it.  Unfortunately, this first part of the raspberry season is almost finished as far as blooms are concerned.  Another week and all will be forming fruit.  So far, bees are not on the clover in the grass much, nor are they on the volunteer buckwheat which has grown in the area we planted last year.  Hopefully the flow will continue and last well into July, which should bring us at least one full super if not two.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Three Times

Hive #1 is packed with bees
I went through the entire box of hive #3, frame by frame, three times and found no queen and no sign of a queen.  This was two weeks after installing the queen. Last week, though , lo and behold, I found a frame full of eggs.  Just one frame.  I wondered if these were dead eggs, ones I had put in from another hive, perhaps one that had died.  A few days later, I looked again and there were numerous frames with eggs, all centered in the cells and a good, full pattern.  Now the early larva is being capped, workers are bringing in pollen and it looks like all is well.  I still haven't seen the queen, but she may be just very shy of the light and quickly hides.  Regardless, I think we now have two verified queenright hives.  It just goes to show that it can take awhile for a newly bred queen to begin laying, even two weeks or more after the fact.

Hive #3 is the one with the blue top.


I added a second super to hive #1, the tall hive in the photo above.  The super I put on last week is probably 75% drawn out and already quite heavy.  Clover in the grass is just starting to come on, and I haven't seen honey bees on it yet so they are getting their nectar from other sources right now.  I always question those who are so sure of the source of their honey, unless they live in an area where there truly is one dominant source.  Here, there are so many possibilities that I can't ever say with any certainty what kind of honey the bees are making.
Not a good photo but you can see plenty of new, white comb.



Even when doing a quick entry into a hive, I always fire up the smoker these days.  Invariably, if I try to do anything without the smoke, I pay for it.  I do try to use natural fuel, wood I have chipped up with our chipper/shredder, mostly from dead pine trees.