Seedtime & Harvest Newsletter This week’s produce is bright, beautiful and delicious!
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June 27, 2014
We have been to Sioux Falls to deliver stores and CSAs. Sarsih is visiting for the week and we hauled her along. Woke her up after loading, helped her dress, tucked her into the back seat with pillow and blanket, and on the road by 3:15. Home again by 6, Sarsih and I crawled back into bed, Grandpa went into the bath tub.Sam and Ryan will arrive at 8:00. Ryan’s project will be to Glazer hoe through as many rows as the Glazer will fit. We have an eight inch and a five inch blade so he should be able to cover most of the gardens.Sam will the asked to week four rows of carrots. The girls finished one set of four carrot rows but there is another set of four waiting for weeding.
Alissa will arrive whenever Noah wakes up. He is probably tired as he has played all week with Sarsih. He has a blast whenever Willem and Sarsih visit.
The rest of the crew? While waiting for the hail ravaged crops to start recovering, Maria accepted an invitation to go camping. She has a wedding to photograph this afternoon. Dolan’s parents are on vacation this week so their farm is his responsibility. Miranda’s dad owns New Tec and could fill her days with painting and cleaning projects. Brad’s car is leaking oil so he is limping home to the family mechanic in Harley.
What do I plan to do? Till some smallish areas in gardens and plant poppies, hairy vetch, cosmos, and zinnias for the honey bees. Also put in another planting of green beans (they should be ready just before frost and the absolutely best beans are those ready just before frost.) More carrots and beets would be great, too.
My ultimate goal for the day is to have time to visit our honey bees. One strong hive decided to rob two smaller hives. The queen is probably dead, the worker bees absconded and joined their foes, and each cell in the honey comb has been opened and the honey hauled back to the strong hive. The two small hives are totally empty.
A third small hive is also struggling. This hive has bees and larvae but no honey. I ram out of time searching for their queen. Hopefully, she is still alive. I tried to equalize their survival rate a bit by taking two frames of honey from the strong hive and gifting it to the small hive. A strip of tape was placed over the entrance, reducing the area the defenders must defend from the robbers.
I’m hoping to use the strong hive to make a few smaller hives. (Purchasing bees is expensive. I spent $500 for 5 nucleus hives. Now two are gone and the third is at risk.) First the queen must be found. She goes with the new hive. Also, there must be a few queen cells remaining in the original hive for the worker bees to feed royal jelly and coddle until a queen hatches. Total survival rests on the hive having a queen.
I spent several hours searching for the queen last week. No luck. I even asked the worker bees very nicely if they would reveal her to me. Still no luck. This hive is four boxes tall, nine frames in each box, two sides to each frame, with 90 cells across and 50 cells down (4500 cells) on each side.
A good queen can lay 1,000 to 2,000 eggs a day.
With a pair of reading glasses, a strong back, a full bee suit and leather gloves, a little patience, and a little luck, I should be able to find that queen. She will be moved with several frames of honey, pollen, eggs, brood (baby bees still in larvae stage), and nurse bees to another hive somewhere on this property. Bees seem to have GPS so forage bees would simply fly back to the strong hive. Nurse bees will not abandon the eggs and brood, nor their queen.
Since I am a new beekeeper, this project is challenging. At my age, I will probably be a new beekeeper for the rest of my life. There is SO much to learn. So many books to read. So much information on the web. With all the surrounding chemicals, stray electricity, and radiation, it is a difficult era to be learning about honey bees and then on top of it all, hoping to be successful. The national average for hive loss in 2013 was 30% while the average loss in Iowa was 50%. We lost one out of three, 30%, over winter. But I’ve lost two out of seven (maybe three of seven) already this summer. These summer losses cannot be blamed on chemicals, etc., but on management. Maybe I have them too close together. Or maybe I should have broken the strong hive down sooner. Always learning! But totally fascinating. I love it!
PS. The day did not go as planned. It rained.
Sam trellised tomatoes. Ryan replanted tomatoes. Alissa seeded. Me? I’m not sure but I am wet, bedraggled, tired.
Let’s see … Tilled until it rained. Unhooked the truck and trailer while it was pouring rain.
Showed Sam exactly how to pinch and trellis. Showed Ryan how to clip and trellis. Taught Ryan how to pick cucumbers; picked with him. Wiped and boxed cukes. Pull off damaged fruit and pulled out dying plants, placed new plants for Ryan to plant. Made lunch. Spent an hour pondering and planning how to beef up the fertility regime to stimulate recovery and re-growth. Interviewed two brothers for crew members. Fixed leaky t-tape. Got nutrients running to the skinny house.
5:36 pm. Finish writing newsletter.
Please come to Market tomorrow regardless of rain or sunshine. We work all week providing veggies and flowers for your body and soul.