While temperatures remain above average, we only have to look at the spectacular fall colors (and occasionally grab a jacket in the morning) to know that winter is just around the corner. Of course, everything in nature knows it too — including yellow jackets.
Beekeepers across southern Georgia have been reporting record numbers of yellow jackets this year, and we are no exception. The infestation around our hives made it impossible to do any hive checks this weekend. However, the screen entrance reducers that we added to the wooden reducers have made it possible for even the weaker hives to defend against the horrific number of pests vying for the resources our bees have worked so hard to store. Hubby bent strips of screen into steps in a way that the bees enter from the sides through a square opening and then make their way to the wooden entrance in the middle. I don’t feel like I’m explaining it well, but I’ll get a picture once the yellow jackets die back. We did very quickly check the candy board on one of the hives and the bees have eaten about half the sugar we put on two weeks ago — or is it three? We know that next time we make candy boards we will put wax paper on top of the screen so that the sugar has time to harden. The sugar that fell through has assuredly attracted some of the invaders!
As neither checking the weak hive nor doing any work close to the apiary was an option, I weeded the lavender garden and threw out a little more buckwheat seed. It’s probably too late for the seed to do much, but who knows when these warm temperatures will end? Bees are foraging on the buckwheat planted in front of the RV, so the possibility of blocking new weeds, adding nitrogen into the soil, and providing bee food is too tempting to resist.
I let my lavender plants in the city grow until they became very straggly and woody. Then, when I pruned them back, two of them didn’t survive. I don’t want to make that mistake again, so I, somewhat reluctantly, trimmed lavender and rosemary plants today and now have a good harvest to hang in the well house to dry. To say that my last attempt to make lavender oil was unsuccessful would be an understatement — baby oil with coconut oil makes an awful base — so I’m looking forward to a second attempt. However, I did successfully use mineral oil to make a batch of lemon grass oil, which I then used to make beeswax furniture polish, so that’s what I’ll try with at least some of this lavender. Hmmmm – maybe I should re-read the book I have about making products with lavender before I decide….
So, as we are rapidly approaching the time to make the commute back to city life, I am happy to report that I have blisters instead of eye strain and a relaxed mind and body that find it impossible to feel any stress. We got to spend a wonderful evening with family yesterday. We got to hear about our neighbors’ road trip. Maggie got to spend time with all of her doggy friends. The lavender garden looks like a garden again. There are a whole lot of things that didn’t go as planned this weekend, but somehow when we’re here, plans feel less important. Life is good and getting better all the time!