Our strategy of combining weak hives, even if that meant sacrificing queens, in late fall has paid off and we are going into February with 25 strong hives. We did lose one NUC that we were on the fence about. They hung in there until the below freezing temperatures last weekend, but sadly didn’t make it past the last 23 degree morning because the cluster just wasn’t quite big enough to keep warm. We were so close, and, if I could go back, I would probably grab the NUC and put it in the greenhouse for that last week of January! Ian Steppler stacks hives to retain warmth, and that is a strategy we thought about trying but simply didn’t get around to. Once again, we are reminding ourselves that we are closer than ever before to spending all of our time at the farm: we just need to get our city house on the market and sold and stop making that 600 round-trip drive to get it market ready!
I checked candy boards last weekend and was happy to see hundreds of little eyes starting up at me from sugar piles and bees bringing pollen in through the main entrances. Today, bees are removing spilled sugar from the hives. Does that mean they don’t need it any more, or is it just in the wrong place? I didn’t see much pollen coming in, but there are more bees than usual gathering water. I love the sound of contented bees, although I wish there were fewer of them sucking water out of the door mat on the front deck!
There are also signs of spring in the garden. I was frustrated over the absence of crocus last weekend as I thought they should be blooming by now. After all, that’s why I plant them! Crocus are usually the first dashes of color, but the daffodils are leading the way this year. I was happy to finally see crocus shoots this morning. Clover seeded over the last three years is also returning, and one of the fig trees is about to produce its first leaf of the year. I hope to see a good crop of clover flowers for the bees this year as most of our clover should be well established by now. All-in-all, it’s pretty amazing to look back at pictures from three years ago and the progress we’ve been able to make in a relatively short time.
Talking of time, it’s flown by while I’ve been fighting my computer to edit and upload pictures. It must be downloading another Windows update, because it’s apparently been busy doing things other than what I’ve wanted it to do! I had planned to do some gardening this afternoon, but now I think I just need to close the greenhouse and let it start storing some warmth for the evening. The cattle panel greenhouse has been a great success. We are only using three light bulbs to heat it, and up until last week, even the elephant ears were still growing. Our more traditional greenhouse did not protect plants this well. We’re trying to see what we can do without running a heater, and so far, so good. I am going to try heating mats under seedling trays this spring. I’ll let you’all know how that goes. Either way, we plan to add more cattle panel greenhouses before next winter as well as adding raised beds to the garden this spring.
Life is good, and getting better every day!