Hot stuff and bees

The week has warmed a bit more each day with intermittent thunder storms, not producing much rain, just a lot of noise and light. Today it broke 90 f. We got our walk in when is was 6 degrees cooler than that, but on a section of the trail with little shade.

A few days ago when we walked our hay guy down to see the bee installation so he and his helpers were aware, three of the feeders were still half full. Last night they were empty. This morning while it is still below 80 f, the heavy bee jacket and veil were donned and the hike down the hill to fill the feeders and flip the inner covers to give them more ventilation. My local mentor suggested cutting a notch in the inner cover, my brother said to use shims, the internet suggested craft sticks diagonally across the two back corners to slightly lift the outer lid and provide additional cooling when it is going to be brutal. I like my brother’s idea, but lack the acrylic to cut the shims. My “craft sticks” are coffee stirrers and not thick enough to provide space if laid on the inner cover and not sturdy enough to put diagonally. The syrup I had wasn’t sufficient to fill all the jars, so syrup is being dissolved now and I will look for another shim solution today. I don’t have a battery operated jig saw, but do have a battery powered drill and some hole saws that fit it, so maybe a semi circular hole in the back of the inner cover with the screen material provided by my mentor is the solution. After the syrup is fully dissolved and the bees are quieter in the dusk, a solution will be devised. All 4 hives are filling brood and making honey.

A few weeks ago, Mountain Mint was ordered from a Tennessee nursery, three plants, $20+ dollars. They arrived yesterday, 3 dried out bare root segments in a couple tablespoons of potting soil in a plastic bag. I’m quite irritated by this. My bee mentor has Mountain Mint that she recently divided and she said she would give me a start. The bare roots were planted and watered, but without much hope of success. The Baptisia nearby is blooming gloriously.

It is such a pretty plant and the dark seed pods that form, dry and make interesting addition to dried flower arrangements.

The Wren eggs in the spider plant have hatched, but the babies don’t raise up with open mouths yet, so the count hasn’t been made yet.

Once they fledge, the baby spider plants in the starters around the mother plant need to be set it soil. They aren’t sufficiently set in and the one below the nest in this picture is totally uprooted.

The electric around the fruit was a waste of time. The single strand wasn’t slowing the deer down at all. After our walk today, since we were close to Lowe’s, a second bird net was purchased. In the afternoon heat, the grass within that area was weed whacked down, cardboard put down around the plum and a fence erected around it. Several long coated steel posts were angled over the grapevine, a long cord tying them to the end posts and lashing them together and the net was draped over the line and covering the grapes. There are many clusters starting and the deer can’t have them this year.

a bag of mulch needs to be spread around the little tree.

Hopefully, they are protected now. The electric is just around the top of the garden again, though there has been no evidence of deer in there. The pintos, bush beans, second planting of peas, and some of the sunflowers are sprouted. Not much of the corn is up and no sign of the cucumbers yet. On a cooler day, some work with the hoe is needed out there though. For now, a bottle of water and a rest under the ceiling fan is in order. I like spring, not summer heat. It will be cooler after today for a while.

Bees, so many, many bees

The hives owner (Son 2) purchased screen bottoms with slide out boards for the hives. He thought that is what he had purchased initially, but the hives came with a solid bottom base piece. Yesterday, my spinning friend/bee mentor came over to help me examine the hives and install the new screen bottoms with out the slide out boards for the warmer weather. We had the smoker but never lit it. The spring bees are so mellow, but busy. Lots of pollen pants on the girls as they flew into the hives. They are making honey in brooder frames so excluders and honey supers will soon be added. All the hives were active, we found 3 of the queens and evidence that all 4 have active queens. Every hive has a Queen cup or two that require watching. The hives look healthy, a few hive beetles that we smushed, no mites (knock on wood). She again gave me so many suggestions to make life easier for the bees and for maintenance. The bottom slide out boards need a rim to pull them from the slots as they will get stuck in otherwise so that will be done before they are installed late fall. She suggested a small vent slot in back end of the spacer to aid with ventilation. When the supers are added and the spacers are removed to place them, those slots will be cut. It would be nice if I had a battery powered jig saw, but mine has to be plugged in. Also she discussed a syrup feeder style that slips into the brood box like a frame that holds a gallon of syrup so it doesn’t have to be made quite as often. I don’t know what you do when it isn’t needed, I guess replace it with another frame. I am still using quart jars that sit outside the front of the hive.

Just before she came over, one of their hives swarmed, high up into the trees. While she was here, a second swarmed and her husband said it settled on their electric box so he set up to capture and move them as soon as she arrived home.

Before she arrived, one of the overstuffed 2 gallon bags of frozen tomatoes from last year was dumped in a sink of warm water, the skins slipped off and dropped in a big pot to simmer with herbs and seasonings while we worked. Two and a half hours later, there was a nice pot of pasta sauce awaiting. We had spaghetti and salad, a pint was frozen and 4 more pints were canned after dinner and put on the shelf to begin resupplying our canned goods. I have plenty of lids this year and need to begin to gather jars as the honey is going to need jars as well, and my supply is just about what I use to can sauces, salsas, and jams in each year.

The hens are producing about 8 or 9 eggs a day. One of the Marans thinks she is an ostrich and lays super jumbos that don’t fit in a carton and one of the Easter eggers often produces “oopsies” a tiny egg that is only an egg white.

And it is definitely asparagus season, cutting many spears each day to enjoy and share.

This week has brought news of the loss of two of our acquaintances, one was a neighbor who has been in very poor health for a number of years. He was my age. The other from my childhood. He was a son of the director at Shrine Mont when I was a child visiting there in the summer, about 11 years my senior, he was a teen and young adult then, later he became the director that replacing his Dad, and the father of the current director. I was told that he also had been in poor health for a while.

And the news this week included the deaths of two young college athletes, both good students, who took their own lives. Suicide is a topic that demands more discussion. As a retired school counselor, experiencing the suicide of a few students over the years, it is difficult to discuss, but it must to save the lives of people in distress.

The Pin Cushion

With the onset of Covid and advancing age, there have been many vaccines administered in the past months for protection. With 4 Covid vaccines and boosters, a pneumonia vaccine, and the two vaccine series of shingles shots, I feel like a pin cushion. Most of them didn’t bother me except for a sore arm, but the second Covid shot and the second booster, both made me feel yucky. Today I got the second shingles vaccine and first off, that injection burns and often causes the recipient to feel poorly. We will see. Another reaction I get with every vaccine, also the three times I have had imaging dye is a metallic taste that lingers for several hours. But hopefully, protection levels are higher at this point.

We have been experiencing very warm weather and the lilac has blossomed with it’s delightful scent in the front of the house. Behind the house, the first Bearded Iris have bloomed and they are the grape iris that are not only light purple, but smell like grapes. Soon the other iris colors will bloom, then later the Dutch Iris and then the day lilies. Some of the deck pots and the small annual garden have been seeded with Cosmos and Coreopsis, a half barrel awaits the herbs that were removed from the hydroponic garden, but more potting soil needs to be obtained first.

It amazes me that those two iris that couldn’t be dug out have come up between the stones being set for the patio. Most of them are not bound in by stones.

Tomorrow will be about 20 degrees cooler than today and will remain in the 60’s during the day for the next 10 days or so. Fortunately, there are no freezing nights in the forecast, hopefully no more for the spring season. Mother’s day is the target date for planting out the tomato and pepper transplants and seeding out the rest of the garden.

Water has been set up for the bees so they can drink without drowning. With the boggy bottom of the sink hole, they may discover that as well.