The weekend before the drought ended, I turned the soil in the remaining compacted section of the timber company’s loading deck and we sowed a mixture of annual rye, fescue, and White Dutch Clover. The rains came, and we have lush green grass with an under-story of clover over a few acres of recently cleared land as well as on the deck. More importantly, we have eliminated the erosion problem that has plagued us for almost 5 years now. Oh – and by cleared land, I mean Hubby pushed back some more of the undergrowth between trees so that we could have more room for clover and fewer thorny plants.
We lost one of the magnolia trees planted by the gate in the drought, so when I’ve finished my coffee and this blog, we’re going to plant some camellias and gardenias on that side of the gate so that we have evergreen plants of a manageable size that are beautiful in spring and summer. I was able to bring some gardenia cuttings from South Carolina, but was unable to get any cuttings from the camellia plants to take root. By the time we finish that, it will be warm enough to continue getting the bees ready for next week’s cold snap.
We constantly had problems with leaky lids (mainly when I put the lids on) when we used bucket feeders, so we’re trying open feeding with our internal feeders right now. The hives I checked yesterday have a good deal of nectar, but very little bee bread. We put the pollen feeder back out a few days ago and the bees are hitting it almost as hard as the syrup feeders. The pollen feeder was a great success during the summer dearth and it was easy to clean up once the fall blooms started.
I went out to refill the syrup while it was still cold enough for the bees to be indoors this morning, but it was not cold enough to intimidate the yellow jackets, so we had to add yellow jacket traps around the feeders. Those guys irritated me non-stop last weekend while I was applying a non-skid paint to our ice-rink of a deck!
Hubby was at work yesterday, and the small syrup tank was empty, so I rustled up some bravery and started the gas-operated pump to cycle the syrup in the large tank and then fill the small tank. Well, it didn’t look like anything was happening once I got the motor started, so I pulled the exit hose out to take a look. It’s a pretty powerful motor, so once the hose was out (and, yes, the syrup was moving), it wouldn’t go back in. One sugary shower and a change of clothes later, I got syrup transferred over and had to evacuate the area because every yellow jacket and bee from a 5-mile radius appeared to show up for a free lunch! I suspect I still have syrup in my hair.
A couple of week ago, I read a blog by Ron Misha about winterizing hives. He mentioned that his father used to hang a piece of burlap out of the hive lid to wick moisture out of the hives in winter. We have a roll of burlap, so I am trying that. We’re going from a record-breaking warm October to lows in the 20s this week, and the hives have more nectar than honey in them. We’ll add candy boards going into December, but this weekend is all about getting the bees through the coming week. I combined the weakest hives I came across yesterday and shook bees into others that will struggle to stay warm. I’m still rebuilding strength in my arms and hands after this summer’s neck problems, so I did not get as far yesterday as I would have liked. However, the good news is that I stopped when I noticed that I was getting clumsy because my hands were tired. Sometimes it’s good to be stubborn and push through, and other times it’s better to apply common sense.
I was going to write about some great changes to our landscape and our renewed indecision regarding where to place the house, but I think that needs to wait for another time. It’s way to pretty outside to sit at a computer for hours, especially when bad weather is going to keep us inside for the next few days. Stay happy. Stay warm. And remember that life is good on the farm!