Olio 7/22/2022

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things

There hasn’t been an olio post in a while, but events and photos have been gathering so let’s throw them together here.

I don’t use family names in my blog, but those of you who actually know me will identify this one. Son 1 has been working very hard to complete his PhD, and yesterday he successfully defended his dissertation. His defense was able to be watched via Zoom and hubby did watch it and shouted out when the congratulatory announcement was made. We are so very proud of his achievement that he has worked so hard to earn while also teaching and being the Director of Communications of the Honors’ College at the University where he works.

The very hot weather and intermittent evening thunderstorms have produced some delightful sunsets lately. Because the hens need to be secured each night, many of these sunsets have been appreciated and a few photographed by me. Here are two of the better ones.

The peach tree and berry canes have been providing delicious fresh fruit this week. Most of the berries go into the freezer for breakfast smoothies, but always some enjoyed as they are being picked. The peaches are just coming into their period of ripeness and several have been enjoyed fresh. A batch of some sort of peach jam will soon be made, though most jam making is going to be skipped this year. Last year’s jams were not a consistency that I liked and most of them ended up in the compost this spring so the jars could be washed for reuse as they sat unopened all winter. Very little jam gets eaten here and with not doing many craft shows, it isn’t getting sold either. I do make a couple of jams that are used as meat sauces, so they will be made in smaller quantities. Perhaps, canned peach halves or slices will join the shelves this year. They aren’t freestone peaches, so getting clean halves or slices is more difficult, but doable. Next up will be the apples and Asian pears. The deer have eaten all the lower apples and leaves and there seem to be fewer Asian pears this year, but enough for some fresh eating and some Pear Marmalade. And the deer have denuded the grape vine leaves that aren’t netted, the chickens having eaten all the grapes except one cluster they can’t reach. Before next year, a means to keep them out from under the vines needs to be formed. If it was downhill from the garden, the fencing could be expanded to protect it, but it is uphill and the chicken coop is in the way. Perhaps training the vines up a taller trellis so the hens can’t reach the hanging fruit. The deer are so bold they come right up to the house, into the walled garden and graze the flowering plants in pots and half barrels down. Just as I thought there would be flowers on some seed sown late spring, the plants are nipped off. Netted tomato cages can prevent that but it is so unsightly.

The bees need tending. They have been neglected for the past couple of weeks while I healed from the Bald Faced Hornet attack that hubby and I suffered on the back deck. That giant nest is now dead and removed and the deck is again useable, the swelling in my hand and arm and the itching have subsided from the 5 stings I received, so the bees need tending. It is just too hot to go out midday when they are foraging, wearing the bee protective clothing and they are all in the hives late in the day and early in the morning, but with two weeks of extreme temperatures ahead, it will have to be done anyway, one hive at a time so outside exposure is limited.

Some of the fall planted seed is up in the garden, though I still don’t see pumpkin seedling. More careful tending of the weeds is in order so it doesn’t require so much effort later.

The mower still sits without diagnosing whether the belt broke or jumped the pulley’s. With it so hot, the grass won’t sprout up as fast, so there may be a couple weeks before it becomes an issue, but it should be addressed and remedied before it is needed.

The spindle group scavenger hunt this month has been a fun diversion and has kept my spindles busy and the knitted tribute hat is coming along nicely too, a few rows at a time, which is all the arthritis in my hands allows. Spinning doesn’t bother them, but knitting does. Maybe I should return to crochet and see if that is painful. My fiber arts began with crochet, about 60 years ago. Crochet was lost to smocking, to counted cross stitch and crewel, to knitting, then spinning and a little weaving. Weaving doesn’t bother the arthritis, but warping the loom is stressful, so not as much weaving is done as it should be.

The randomness of the Olio posts is fun at times. I hope you enjoy them as well.

Busy Holiday Weekend and More Bee Lessons

Son 1 returned to spend the holiday weekend with us. The plan had been for both sons to come replace the roof on Son 2’s RV that lives on our farm between trips. On their most recent vacation, the roof had some failure and a “patch” repair, but the roof, vents, and hopefully skylight are to be replaced. The replacement had to be postponed as not all the components arrived here in time, so Son 2 rescheduled. Our garage currently has the new roof material spread out on the floor to relax it. This gave us a weekend with Son 1 without a laundry list of jobs to do, or that was the plan.

He arrived Saturday night and I had purchased a second copper ground rod and clamps so we could run a series of 4 rods 4 feet long each on the apiary electric fence. The original one we could only get about 3 feet into the hard, rocky soil, and we currently have a large, maybe 350-400 pound black bear residing in our area. It was seen 7 times in 3 days last week, including in our lower hay field while the guys were baling the hay down there. Though the electric fence with the 12 volt charger on it was charging, we read that you should have 8 feet of ground rod buried or a series of shorter rods. The rods were cut in half to 4 feet and pounded in with just enough exposed to fasten the clamps and wires. That was the only task for the weekend, or so I thought. While working down there, I spotted this:

Lots of bees and comb being formed below the screen bottom of one hive. A panic text to my beekeeper friend and a reply of “Yikes.” She and her husband came over to see what was going on and help me remove the wax, relocate the bees inside. Thinking it might be honey, or just wax, we discovered eggs and larvae in the cells, so the virgin queen must have missed the opening to the hive on her return and ended up under the hive instead. The brood comb was wired into a frame and placed into the top super without the queen excluder with hopes that she will move down into the brood box below and continue producing brood in a hive that was struggling. She must have come from one of the queen cups we placed in the have about 5 weeks ago. We did a quick inspection of the last hive I hadn’t gotten to during the week, another that we had given a queen cup to and found eggs and larva there also, so it looks like all 4 hives are currently queenright for now. That is a relief to me. I will reinspect the hive we hope we moved her into this weekend to see if more brood has been made, so we know we successfully transferred her. So another new beekeeping skill introduced, how to wire in comb to an empty frame.

During the weekend, Son 2 said he caught a small swarm at one of his employee’s homes, so he now has free bees at his place to give him 3 hives, though the caught swarm is in a nuk as there are too few bees to place in a hive yet.

We did get our walks in both days that son was here with him, cooked out at daughter’s house on the 4th and watched the fireworks from her front yard, and returned home to get a couple hours of sleep before I returned son to the 5 a.m. bus back to the train to get him back to his job. Both sons will be here in 2 weeks to tackle the RV roof.

This is one of the does with twins that frequent our property. These fawns are very tiny, the others we see are much larger. There are too many deer this year, they look very thin and are eating things they normally avoid. This is a recipe for disease unless more hunting reduction is permitted for a couple years. The deer don’t have any natural predators in Virginia anymore as all the wolves and big cats have been eradicated. This is a lesson that has been hard taught to those that removed them because of occasional stock loss. Some red wolves have been reintroduced in an adjacent state, but aren’t seen here yet and the coyotes/coydogs/coywolves tend to go after smaller prey like groundhogs, squirrels, rabbits, and the occasional barn cat.

Though I love seeing the fawns, the destruction and the potential for disease to them and us from the infected deer ticks is a problem.

This week is very hot again, with frequent thunder storms. Before they began yesterday, I did get the couple of acres we call yard mowed on the riding mower. Grandson that will mow for me is away visiting his other grandparents. I do appreciate when he is here to do the job for me.

Not a good Bee Mama, I guess

On June 1, my friend and I did a hive inspection. One hive had a virgin queen, one was queenless, 1 had a queen that died of shock while she was being marked, and 1 was truly Queenright. We hoped the virgin queen would make her mating flight and return to provide brood, shifted a couple of frames of brood around to queenless hives with queen cells on them, and waited to see results. Yesterday, I went to inspect them alone. Three hives have no eggs, no larvae, two with good population, the third not so good, the 4th hive thriving with a marked queen. A message was sent to Son2, the bee owner, but didn’t hear back from him. Messaged my friend and posted on the local bee keeper’s forum and it was suggested to shift frames again, look for queen cells, wait and hope they make new queens.

Another inspection with intervention will occur this week, maybe tomorrow before the heat dome returns to cook us. I feel bad that this has happened, but am at a loss as to a solution. We may have to reintroduce new queens to the three hives and hope for success. Three of the hives are or have been making honey and the honey supers on those hives are heavy.

I fear that the weakest hive has a worker layer as there are lots of drone cells in that hive and that is not sustainable.

Unfortunately, the beginner beekeeper class occurred before I knew there would be hives here, so I missed it this year. A couple of the keepers offered to come put another set of eyes on the situation, but today is Father’s Day and other plans had already been put in place.

Son2 is due here this week at the end of their vacation, I hope he has time to inspect while he is here and can offer guidance.