Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cool weather, cool garden

With the shorter days and cooler weather, things have slowed down outdoors.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Ridge Trail Service Day.

I didn't realize there was something that could get me out of bed on a Saturday morning at 5:30am until yesterday:  The Bay Area Ridge Trail - REI Service Day

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fall garden, fall bees


 I took a sample of each of our harvests for comparison.  If this was good science, they'd be in identical jars and identical volumes.  But instead, we have this!

Applied the second of three powdered sugar treatments to the hive, a hike in the east bay, the garden is growing strong, and will these raccoons please leave? 

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Growing Challenge: tiny seedlings for a big garden


"Lettuce" show off the seedlings!  :-D


October Honey Harvest


An overcast Sunday was the perfect time to do what we think is the final harvest of the summer on Urania, as well as start the fall preparations. 

My impression of the work today - we're getting the hang of this!  


Sunday, October 11, 2009

growing challenge: Cool garden check in.

It's been one week!  According to the chart, we should see lettuce, cabbage, bush beans, spinach, sugar snap peas, and turnips.  And what do we have?

Four out of six!!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

drones v. workers, cool weather garden, and kitty-be-gone


The cool weather garden was planted today! 

Most of us *erhm* got out of bed after going through the bowl of seeds (a bowl that holds all of the envelopes and seed packets).  The garden dirt was turned once more, and the planting started.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

because Amanda said she missed my updates. ;)

We're in a bit of a holding pattern.  Wine is aging, the garden is having a short rest before the winter planting, and the bees are abuzz.  Last Saturday a group of us went up to hike Sibley Park to celebrate the last weekend of Summer.  It was amazing to see the views - last trip it was so fogged in! 


Last Friday I took a case of honey to work.  Fridays are the quietest day on the campus.   I sent out an email to all users and said "$10 per jar, stop by" and went about my work, no where near the computer.  Within a few minutes I had my first customer (that wasn't in my department!) asking for three jars.  I was floored.  I wasn't sure I'd sell any in my remote and locked room, and suddenly I wondered if I had enough! 


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fall Garden

Compost tea, worm castings, a sturdy shovel, hand spade, hand rake, and good clippers.  
Getting the garden cleaned up from summer and ready for fall.  
All of the plants were fed compost tea.  The vegetable garden soil was turned with fresh worm castings.  Everything was left to rest and combine before planting.  
We picked up seeds at OSH for the fall garden, going by the advice of a fall and winter garden article sent out by Park Seed.
A full day of beehive inspection and garden work called for some cool drinks! 
It's tiring work! 

September 6 hive inspection.

Last weekend there was a hive inspection of Urania and garden clean up.  Part of this was inspired by the September Bee Guild meeting - It's time to get ready for Fall! 







Sunday, August 30, 2009

Encapsulating August.

Chronological would not really be possible at this point without cross referencing, so - topics!  Compost, garden, bees and honey, wine, and house. 

Sunday, August 23, 2009

August has flown by.

I can't believe the end of August is approaching! Summers tend to fly by as it is - it's the busiest time of year. The long daylight hours support work, volunteering, gardening, wine making, beekeeping, hiking, travel, birthdays, and everything in between. I'm always surprised by how quickly the weekends book up, and by how soon the summer seems to draw to a close. Driving through Highway 9 today I realized how many of the trees have leaves changing color.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

cycling

I. am. dying. with. laughter.

Thanks to the Timbuk2 blog for pointing out this gem: Performance.

(says the person that has a bike with brakes and gears, but it's been pointed out to me on the train that I could get a faster street bike. And I have not one, but two timbuk2 bags.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Yoga

Just reading the Eveything Yoga Blog, and there was a great entry about Summertime Yoga, yoga that compliments our favorite summer activities.

Through the entry I found Yoga for Hikers, Yoga for Cyclists, Yoga for Swimmers, and a sequence of poses for after a day in the garden.

Feeling playful, I google'd "Yoga for Beekeepers" and I found a workshop in 2001 that included a session! too funny!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Sunday Adventure: Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

Some close friends got to talking about labyrinths, and mentioned Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve. (Take a look on google earth if you have the inclination - it's impressive from the air!) The conversation caught my attention, and I decided to cross the bay for a hike. My cousin (who is training to run a half marathon to fight Leukemia) was interested as well. We decided to go early Sunday to avoid the heat on this exposed trail. I met my cousin, we stopped quickly for coffees and egg sandwiches, and then drove up up up the Berkeley Mountains to the trailhead.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

one proud beek.

My cousin Missy came out today to meet the bees. Some other friends of mine are interested in the bees, so I told them to come out as well for a visit to see the hive. I had M's jacket with veil, which my cousin could wear. Melissa opted to stay in the living room with their baby (the observation window!) and Jim wore long sleeves and a hat. I had a mesh bag he could use as a temporary veil, but he decided to skip it.

I got the smoker lit, and explained that while it was good to have going, I doubted that we would need it. Despite the hive being handled a couple of days ago, the bees had been in a pleasant mood as I watered and worked around the garden. We had some heavy racoon activity here last night (including the racoons using one of the bees water dishes for their filthy paws!) but the bees seemed undisturbed. I also walked them through, verbally, what I planned to do, and gave them bee brushing jobs.

Friday, July 31, 2009

psuedo-swarm?

I recently captured a small swarm. We had some debate about taking it on as a third hive, but the expense of a new hive was really the factor that led us to deciding against it. Both M and I had noticed that the Urania bees, normally easy going, were defensive and impatient. They were likely to bump us as we went about our normal business near the hive. I opened the telescoping cover to see how things were and found a gang of bees with their tails up. I closed the cover right away, not wanting to challenge the patience of angry honey bees.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Busy because of bees.

We made a cheap and cheerful solar wax melter from a cooler (about $3 from Orchard Supply and Hardware), some leftover black paint (not enough it seems!), my bread pan, a paper towel, and some saran wrap. We were roughly following this guide.














Growing challenge: Tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries, oh my!


The recent gopher attacks on our strawberries (along the fence) have caused a few of them to get pushed up with the soil. The good thing is they haven't been uprooted, but many of the plants are now a good couple of inches taller. They are still growing strong and producing tons of berries, so my guess is they aren't bothered. I'm hoping the rain in the fall will help settle the dirt again, until then - we make do.











Friday, July 24, 2009

We are the buzz.

I'm loving that people from work, yoga, and other circles are bringing me news clippings relating to gardens, bees, and honey. I'm delighted to be part of such a positive awareness.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Camping and Capturing.

Camping at Memorial Grove was fantastic. After hiking there in May, we decided to camp there. Three of us arrived Friday around 1:30pm, and the other four were there around six. The site was roomy and we lucked out having neighbors only on one side. There were a lot of wasps there! Happily they were only annoying and not overly aggressive, no one was stung. Plenty of Dark-eyed Oregon Juncos were hopping around the site. The brilliantly colored but slightly harassing Stellar's Jay was also in abundance. We were careful about locking up food, but saw that a raccoon had done some tap dancing on one cutting board, and heard them cruise through the site during the night. The mosquitos were thick! Guess I wasn't careful enough about putting on the insect repellent!

I brought some of our new honey and recently bottled Syrah and Elderberry to share. It's heaven to share fruits from the home and heart with good friends.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

bottled!

Our first jar! We gave it to our dear friend Christopher when he arrived to pick me up for yoga. He's very happy with it. :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sun Day.

Woke up early to make two batches of Ginger Ale and get the deck ready for the extraction. (thankfully - the ginger ale was in plastic bottles and in a tub in the shed. One of them built up too much pressure and popped today.) Around 9am I added a small amount of Bee Quick to a cotton pad on the inner cover to encourage the bees to leave the top two supers. It works on the bees the way a stink bomb works on us - doesn't hurt us, but makes us leave the room. They did NOT like this. As I opened up the cover and set it down on the inner cover, the tone of the hive shifted quickly. I closed the outer cover and left them alone.

A busy week.

Where to begin!

Chronologically, I guess. :) Where we last left the hive - two brood supers with three honey supers on top. Oh, and plenty of active bees!

Sunday July 5 - put the mite board in to check. The Guild meeting got me thinking I'm not tracking the mite potential very carefully. Took it out on Wednesday evening (July 8) and after careful inspection we found wax caps, pollen, propylis, and no mites! hooray!

Wednesday M drove to Mann Lake in Woodland and picked up an extracting bundle, yay!




Sunday, July 5, 2009

Holiday weekend.

Last Tuesday afternoon we added a third honey super to the hive. The girls took to it immediately, they were hanging out in the top the next day. I've also noticed they have appeared calmer - they seem to be staying in a bit later in the morning and heading in earlier in the evening.

Thursday night I went to the local bee guild meeting and talked to some members about the hive and honey harvesting.










Monday, June 29, 2009

Hot weekend weather.

Urania was washboarding again over the weekend, this time I was prepared with camera!

video

The bees are in their own space when they are doing this. The fact that I was sitting next to the hive did not faze them at all. They just kept with the behavior. This little bee got me giggling a bit - the rhythmical pattern made me think of vacuuming.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

and if nothing else, Eddie Izzard explains beekeeping.



it's hot this weekend! Not sure if garden work is going to happen today.

Wikibee!

meep!

It's come to my attention that I have done my usual thing and gone straight to technical and specific jargon that is not easily understood.

My quick bee wiki guide!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

"don't expect honey your first year"

If by "year" you mean "month", then yes! do not expect honey your first month.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The White House bees!

(I'm puzzled by the caption of collecting the first batch of honey - maybe this is the comb going back into the hive? where's the cappings?)

Last night I made my own ginger ale. Left the bottle in the shed next to where my bike gets hung up. In case of explosion, most of the shed can be hosed down with no problem. This is not really the case for the kitchen. The other advantage is I'll be sure to check it at least twice today. When I left this morning the bottle was already feeling more full. My guess is it will be ready tonight, yum!

Also got a whole wheat bread soaker and biga started to make bread tonight. Was going to make some granola bars as well, but the kitchen got commandeered for dinner instead. Hopefully can make those tonight if I get home early enough. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bearding or Washboarding

excellent!!!

Asking around paid off- what my bees were doing is either bearding or washboarding. I was directed to this blog first, and the blogger used the term bearding. I googled this, and found another blog site that talked about bearding. I noticed in the comments it had an update - that this was not bearding, but washboarding. The idea is that washboarding may be related to bees cleaning the hive. (!!!) More searching and a similar post, and found something about it on Beesource.

Because of the hives location, it's difficult for me to watch the front for very long without getting the bees a bit concerned about the big thing looming nearby. What I did see looked like all of these photos and videos. The photo isn't clear enough to see if their probosci are out. I did notice they were doing the same thing tonight when I got home, about 7:30pm.

Fantastic. :) Clean, happy bees!

Monday, June 22, 2009

carrots and I didn't read about this in the books!

We picked our carrots! They went into a delicious chicken pot pie.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Why Did My Plant Die

Why Did My Plant Die
Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sunday adventure(s)!

On Sunday June 7, we took it light. I was still feeling tender from the bike fall, so we just went down to the Bay Trail and walked along the bay. We walked about two miles total, it was a simple walk down the mixed use path. It was windy! I didn't bring my camera, so no photos. The Bay trail is paved and goes for miles - I know a lot of bike commuters that use it to go between the city and the south bay. I enjoy how close and uncomplicated it is. It's great for walking to clear the mind, as it requires very little concentration.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Growing Challenge: Update!


Things in the garden are great!

The sugar snap peas are on their way out. Over the next week we'll be picking the last of the peas, and then pulling the pea plants to add to the compost pile. I am hoping to plant Scarlet Runner Beans along this same line for late summer / fall picking. May be best to get them started in the greenhouse first, we've found some of the seeds are getting dug up by our persistent bird friends. (that's why none of our sunflowers grew! every seed picked!)



Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bikes and Bees

also known as - still here!

Last weekend (June 6 & 7) we were going to open up the hive, check on the new honey supers, and see if we had a Queen that wasn't interested in laying in them (thus requiring no excluder) or if we did have eggs / larvae in the honey supers, thus requiring the addition of the excluder. It was a great plan, but unfortunately my accident prone self had other plans.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Burrowing Owl Chicks!

My campus has Burrowing Owls. They have been featured in the media before, BBC did a great show about urban wildlife and focused on the campus. (see here, owls at 6:30) The owls were doing great, then disappeared all together, and in the last few years have slowly returned. I hadn't seen one for three years, and then was walking along a campus road after lunch one day, and was shocked to see one sitting just off the road in the dirt. The campus has been hopeful that they would mate this spring.

We are in luck!

Friday, May 29, 2009

3B art

As seen in Make magazine: 3B art!

I'm impressed that my girls did their own piece with no foundation prep! So avant garde!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Urania hive and burr comb

I will admit that I went into today feeling a bit nervous after the sting on last weekend. I took some Rescue Remedy to calm my nerves. Beekeepers have a lot of opinions, but they do agree - if you are in an off mood, the bees will respond in kind.

After seeing the progress the Terpsichore Hive has been making, it was decided the Urania hive should be looked in on, and fast. We settled for this morning. Once the fog burned off we suited up. At first, I wasn't going to bring my camera. We had a single honey super ready just in case. The telescoping cover was removed, and whoops!

We've been of the school of thought to let the bees be bees, and that we shouldn't expect them to grow enough to need honey supers this year. !!! On my bike ride to work I was thinking - coffee grounds in the compost. compost on the garden. garden grows the flowers. are the bees caffeinated?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Growing Challenge: Update!

Photos are all from the weekend, it's taken me this long to catch up. Saturday and Sunday were unusually hot, happily most of the plants have recovered but in the photos a lot were looking a bit thrashed.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

It's beehive hot!

Our normally temperate weather turned much warmer over the weekend, 93F yesterday and about the same today. As much as I was waiting for the cool evening weather to hit, I considered that the inside of the hive is usually kept at 95F. Those girls must have been hot!

I was out all day Saturday, so today was more my day to see how the hive was doing. I noticed that some of the girls were flying in and out of the hive, but it wasn't the usual bee cloud we've been seeing.

Later in the afternoon I pulled the mite drawer out of the hive to check for mites. I admit that I was pretty curious to check on the hive, and thought this may give me a look into the hive without breaking open the supers. It may also provide the girls with extra ventilation. This is also a passive method of pest control as described in Natural Beekeeping.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bike to Work Day, 2009

Yep, it's finally arrived! Bike to Work Day! Or in my case, Take the Caltrain and Bike the Rest of the Way to Work Day!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

bees and garden update

video

Sunday Hike: Memorial Park

Years ago, in elementary school, we went to a camp for a week. One of the events that week was a hike to the summit of Ellen Mountain. I remember feeling a sense of awe and accomplishment: I climbed a mountain! I'd always thought it'd be nice to go back there, I do remember it had great views.

This Sunday: Memorial Park. We took the route suggested on Bay Area Hiker, and set out. This was the first park I've been to in my hike a week project that had a fee. At a mere $5 for the day, I thought it was well worth it. I know every week it's "This is my favorite park!" but really- favorite.

The park is named Memorial in memory of World War Veterans. Near the picnic & parking area, a large sign dominates a quiet memorial grove. Other memorials are there, plaques and benches. It's a quiet and reflective area.

Other points of interest were the nature center. It has many examples of things seen in the park, information on the animals, and some great photos of animals and plant life labeled with names. There are several picnic areas with bbqs, a swimming hole, and a beach. This park also has camping, and a quick drive through the campsites has earned it a spot on the "places to camp!" list. It'd be a joy to spend a weekend in this park.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Bike to Work Day - one week away!

It's come to my attention that many of my fellow bike car riders are less than thrilled about bike to work day. "Bike to work day!" one of my friends said this last weekend. "that's the only day I drive to work!" I over-heard another pair recently mapping out their ride to maximize free swag. "The train will be full of idiots" the woman said knowingly. Her friend nodded. "No bike tags, no clue how to organize the bikes by destination, just idiots."

Ouch.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hard to know how to respond.

A woman committed suicide yesterday via Caltrain. I am sorry for whatever in her personal situation caused her to sit on the train tracks. I am sorry for the loss her family and friends are experiencing. At the same time, selfishly, I was glad that I was already at work.

Monday, May 4, 2009

the local red headed crooner

Our little red-head and his brunette girlfriend? House finch!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Wunderlich Park

The Sunday hike, like my bees, was not to be deterred by the weather! I asked my friend if she'd be interested in joining me for a hike. She selected Wunderlich, and I was absolutely interested after reading the Bay Area hiker review. (And the creators of Bay Area Hiker? LOVE you!)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

ants!

dang it!

Was heading out to the shed to grab my bike and saw something black dotting the back of the hive. Ants!!! I looked all over the bottom boards of the Lang Stand and didn't see them anywhere. I was concerned we'd have to move the hive back to check out what was compromisng in the front, then I realized the ants weren't going up. They were coming down.

The potato bush that sits next to it had a branch just touching the side of the hive. The ants were all to happy to climb over to the hive. I saw them mostly circling the hive, looks like the supers & propolis may be preventing them from entering.

I had to run to catch the train, left the beeman to start pruning the potato bush back.

le sigh. :-/ The more we prune the potato bush, the faster it grows. We tried to dig it up once and ended up breaking the shovel. We may need to figure out a permanat removal strategey here quickly. I do think it's a pretty enough plant, anything green & purple is preferable to plain boring fence. dang, dang, dang.

Monday, April 27, 2009

We did not kill the bees when we worked on the hive.

(always good news!)

The girls were REALLY active on Sunday. I went out (cotton pants and a tank top) and stood with them, taking some videos and photos. They were sweet and calm. One landed on my arm for a bit. Some videos! (all about 10 - 20 seconds in length)

Sweeney Ridge



The Growing Challenge: garden update!


Got some photos of the plants, for the most part all is well!

The lemon geranium was dug up. We took a bunch of cuttings to replant in a pot this time. Cutting or removing a healthy plant always bums me out a bit, especially after I saw a hummingbird taking sips from it in the morning. (And come back later and dart around where the geranium *had* been!)











Saturday, April 25, 2009

short and sweet.

(clicking on the photo will make it huge, and thus read-able)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sun in Taurus

I was amused to realize the Sun is moving into Taurus right about now earlier today. It seems appropriate that the weekend was spent on earthly pursuits. The bees seem delighted with the weather. They are in and out of the hive from about 8am to about 6pm. After 6, the only bees I've really seen are the guard bees. They didn't mind my working in the garden, but after watching the breakneck speeds a few of them were exiting and entering the hive with, I did make an effort to move slowly & pause. With their vision, bees would see me as an obstacle, but may interpret me moving quickly in their path as a threat. As good natured as this hive has been, I don't want to damage our relationship.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Gardens + Bees = <3

Urban Bee Gardens.

They have some good articles, and a list of bee friendly flowers. So how compatible are the bees and the garden?

We've got Borage, Marigold (teeny seedlings anyway!), California Poppy, Lavender, Scented Geranium, Sage, "Hot Lips" Salvia, Mint, Zucchini, Echinacea, Oregano, Rosemary, and Thyme.

If the birds don't eat the seeds, we should have Brush Sunflowers.

I'm surprised Marjoram isn't on the list. Many a summer afternoon I've sat and watched them work over the tiny purple flowers. Strawberries are also not on the list, but I'm pretty sure they are pollinated mostly by bees.

Awesome. :)

It's been bee-utiful weather.

In addition to checking on the vegetable patch, the rest of the garden is absolutely glowing. And that includes the gardeners best friend - our bees!

I snapped this photo sometime in the last week, forgot to date it, and with so many photos taken this month, it's a mystery! The front of the hive faces into the corner of the fence - which is great for the bees in & out, but not so great for observation - and I was wondering if there were guard bees present. After seeing this - yep!

I've also noticed the bees seem to be settling in for the night around 6pm. The sun isn't setting until closer to 8, but hey, everyone has their own bed time. ;) If I go to the hive after they are in for the night, one or two bees will quickly be out and doing lazy loops around my head. I haven't felt threatened, it's more of a "hey, whatcha doing?" feeling.


Growing Challenge: Status on all plants from seeds!

Got home in time to check out the garden. Luckily, the camera cooperated long enough to allow me to take some photos. Good news all around!

Hello there, cucumber sprout! (yes, I keep hearing this seedling saying "heeeyyyyy" in my head. Too many lolcats.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gorgeous weather, perfect timing.

Until this weekend, the bees were causing some anxiety. Were we going to lose everything? Would they stay? How many more dead bees are we going to see here? They were put into the hive on Wednesday, and Thursday and Friday (besides me being at work during the day) were cool and overcast.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Il tempio di Giove e perfettamente conservato*

I slept fitfully, dreaming of bees and Stargazer Lily's growing above the house. I was up early, and went to the front window to watch the hive. Had they made it through the night? Were they liking their house? Were they eating? Was comb being drawn out? Would they fly in the overcast, foggy wet weather?

No photos were taken in the morning, but our findings were detailed here. Before heading to the train we loaded the truck with the second bee package, hive tools, sugar syrup, smoker, etc! I bagged up my gloves & jacket so a friend could observe the install of Terpsichore, and off Beeman went.

As far as I know, "beginners luck" does not refer to beehives.

Wednesday!

While I was at work, the amazing bee man assembled the hive and separated the two-fer of bees. One for Urania, one for Terpsichore. He mentioned that the bees seemed louder and ready to fly. Hm.

Urania hive +14 hours.

Based on the advice of one of the Beekeeping Guild members, we placed a Queen Excluder between the bottom board and the brood super to prevent the Queen from swarming before the workers had a chance to lay down comb and set up a house. The Guild members starting a new hive with drawn comb - but if you are a new beekeeper - where do you get your drawn comb from? So we're starting with new comb, which is the bee equivalent of a fixer-upper.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Long live the Queen! Hail Urania!

About to sit down to dinner. The hiving process took about one hour in all. It was way more intense than I imagined! All the books, websites, videos, demos, etc - nothing really prepares you like the experience itself!

This is one of my favorite pictures from the event - me pouring the bees in. The hive is closed, the Queen is still in her cage in the hive, and the bees are settling down for the night.

Hail Urania!

hiving in one hour!


We'll be hiving the bees between six and seven tonight if all goes well. I'm told during the day they got really loud! I'm keeping my bike on the deck tonight - didn't want to risk going next to angry bees in my black & yellows to hang the bike up in the shed.

The hive is facing the corner of the fence in the least occupied part of my yard. On the other side of the fence is my front yard neighbor's back yard, which he used to collect weeds. My side neighbor has a small walkway on the other side behind a large storage shed and a dog run, so it's not well peopled either. *crossing fingers for safety*

Our Queen Excluders arrived from Mann Lake today, hooray! We're putting them *under* the brood box until some comb is laid out. Once we see that there are cells, we'll take it off to allow the Queen on her Nuptial Flight. The goal here is to keep them in the hive, rather then have the bees do the equivalent of "we're not interested in a fixer-upper, off we fly."

eeee! very excited!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The bees are here! The bees are here!

This picture amuses me on several levels. It's in my storage shed, and unbeknownst to me at the time, it contains my very own basement cat resting on top of the wine buckets. Beneath her is our "wine cellar" (ha ha!) But yeah, there's our bees!!! The shed is fairly protected, so they should be dry and warmer than if out on the deck.

And yeah, bottom right corner is one of the big wheels. That may or may not have an Easter ride. Anyway! Enough about my messy shed!








Nine Muses to rule them!

(sung to the tune of Oscar Meyer)

My hive has a sister, it's Terp-si-chore!

If you feed them, they will come!

With the warmer days, we're throwing seed back into the feeder. Birdseed, we've discovered, is great for organic pest management. It's overly simple, and it's my summary, but it appears it works something like this -
-feed birds
-birds get used to eating here
-birds will find food. They eat the slugs & snails.

I had tons of slugs and snails when I moved in, and after one summer of bird feeding, no more slugs or snails. Awesome!

The bad news - they dug up our sunflower seeds for food. :-/

Monday, April 6, 2009

Getting ready for 30,000 new pets!

Time to get ready for the bees! Most of this happened last week, over my work's Spring Break. It's good to be an adult and still get Spring Break. ;) Anyway - a quick summary (in photos!) of the work thus far. More photos and maybe video to come, the bees arrive tomorrow!

My truck at Mann Lake in Woodland, California. Two hives, frames, a smoker, some hive tools, some jackets with hoods, some gloves, etc etc ... A great road trip!
This tiny bee landed on telescoping cover while painting. Tiny bee approval: Check!


The local Beekeeping Guild did an installation demo. Huge advantage that his frames are all drawn out with brood. We even saw a few new workers emerge - amazing!



Bee cat approves of Bee boxes!
The hive, Urania, painted. In Celestial Blue. (oh, the name was too perfect. Turns out the color was pretty awesome too.) The hive is named for the Muse of Astronomy and Astrology - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urania

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Growing Challenge: First weekend of April, cucumber seeds!

Urania Hive is painted and ready to go. To use the Queen Excluder or to not use the Queen Excluder? On one hand, it sounds good - the workers have a lot of work to do, and there's nowhere for the Queen to start laying. What's to stop them from collectively saying, this blows. Let's go find a better place. On the other hand - all the books & websites & other Guild members thus far haven't mentioned this - just one guy. Hm.