we call it mr. pointy
May 31, 2010, 10:01 am
Filed under: bubbles, chickens | Tags: ,

bubbles' latest production


we ate the honey and it was good
May 30, 2010, 1:28 pm
Filed under: bees

We brought the burr comb inside and there was some honey inside. The four of us used little teeny spoons and scooped it out. It was really good! Ok, so maybe i’d like to have some honey after all. Hope they are getting to work!

beginner bee luck!
May 30, 2010, 10:29 am
Filed under: bees | Tags: , , , ,

Ok at long last we opened up the hives to take a look. We knew we needed to do it– as one of the hives was making some crazy burr comb up above the frames– but we hadn’t tried the smoker and hadn’t inspected the bees. But they’d filled up their first storey and we needed to add another level. SO…this morning, we fired up the smoker and took a look!

doode adding wood shavings to the smoker

and it makes smoke!

the burr comb

While we had the hives open, I wanted to lift some frames to see what was going on. We had never checked to see the queen, we just removed the empty queen cages and assumed everything was ok. I pulled one outside frame to try it. Cool. Then I pulled the second frame in–it had more activity. And voilà there she was!

queen has blue dot near my thumb

Can we go for double stroke of good luck? Here I am pulling from the second hive–Louis–the one with the burr comb.


i look like michelin man!

there she is! see the blue dot?

Somehow we managed to pull the frames with the queen. Must be beginner bee luck.

This frame shows a bunch of different bee activities. I’m not quite sure if it looks good or what. This frame is from the least developed part of the hive, so i think it’s ok. Looks like capped brood on the right side there. Some other stuff elsewhere. Good news is–the hives seem to be progressing well! It was easy to do, quick too. We put a second storey on, replaced their feeders and closed them up. There were a few ants in Louis but not too many. And none present in Stelle. So that’s good.

How do you like our nifty inspector jackets?!

what does a chicken do when it’s hot outside?
May 30, 2010, 10:08 am
Filed under: chickens, edwina | Tags: , ,

edwina's armpits

She airs her pits of course! Of all the chickens, Edwina has the lowest tolerance to heat, and she can usually be seen walking around with her pits like this–catching the slightest breeze! She’s the only chicken who seems to use this particular technique. The others just walk around with their mouths open, panting.

In other Edwina news, she may be molting at long last. She hasn’t been producing eggs lately and the ones she’s been making are kind of strange–sometime they look tie-dyed with graduating shades of white and brown.

where are you japanese beetle?
May 28, 2010, 12:34 pm
Filed under: gardening | Tags: ,

Every year since we’ve been here (4 summers as of memorial day weekend), we have been plagued by the japanese beetle. Well maybe not so bad in year one, but every year since. And they attack the rose bush first. This summer–nada. No yucky things on my rose bush. Check it out.

no yuckies just pretties!

Woo hoo! I’m not complaining, just saying. Guess they could come back later in the summer. They love dahlias, and alas, unfortunately, the chickens do not eat them. It’s nice to not be toting that jar full of stinky soapy water trapping them left and right all the time.

Ants in the beehive
May 27, 2010, 5:11 pm
Filed under: bees | Tags: , , , ,

Ok, now i’ve had a few minutes to google the problem, and here’s what I found out.

People suggest putting the hive up on legs and then rest each leg in a tuna can filled with motor oil. Ugh–no i don’t think so.

People suggest using terro ant baits–Ugh, nope not that one either.

People suggest putting cinnamon around the base of the hive. You need to re-apply after a rain. Maybe we’ll try that.

Or you could put a mint leave or two under the lid. Will try that one first.

Others say an old timers trick was to put a black walnut leaf in the hive. We don’t have those so won’t try that one.

The nice thing is that people say the ants don’t really bother the bees too much, they’re more of a nuisance for the beekeeper because they like to nest under the lid.

So, I’ll have to check and see if they’re back and then I’ll be testing the solutions here and will get back to you.

Attack! pests and predators in the garden
May 27, 2010, 10:56 am
Filed under: bees, farm, gardening | Tags: , , ,

Trying to do the garden farming thing and you often realize just what an epic struggle you’re engaged in. It’s life and death out there. Last year’s blight was a good reminder of how tough it is, and how strong mother nature is.

So, this morning I go out to my early morning watering and am struck by the pests and predators we’re currently battling.

First of all, I’ve been waiting for a year now to have some strawberries. Patiently waiting, hoping for a nice strawberry. Sigh. We’re nearly there. Plants are big and loaded with berries.

strawberries and leeks

oh boy oh boy!

And then…


Apparently we’re not the only ones waiting for a treat. Sheesh. Damn chippies. We’ve also lost some to botrytis (moldy berries), and some ends have been eaten by some kind of insect. ARGH. There go my dreams of at least having enough to make one dessert!

And then I decided to check in on the bees. I opened up Louis and ACK!! SCARY!!!

Ants everywhere!!!

Sigh. Guess we’ll have to look up ant control for beehives.

I took the lid away and hosed it down, but i’m sure there are many many others lurking!