4.9.2013 The Spokesbee and the Swarm Traps

Finally, winter is flown.  Our last frost came Sunday morning right around dawn, (April 7), and nipped the banana tree I’d evicted from the house on account of spider mites.  The tomatoes in the uncovered cold frame laughed at the cold.  They are really, really needing a  proper hole in the ground.

The plums are nearly done with their bloom.  The peaches are considering a bloom cycle.  The pears have taken the issue under advisement and the apples have pressed the snooze button. The cole crops are in the ground (most of them) and once again, I have three times more tomato plants than I have room for.  Keeping it all watered is taking up more and more time each day.  The garden’s irrigation system did not winter well and upon start up this morning, it leaked profusely in many places.  I am still conducting repairs.

The bees are still angry about my last visit 10 days ago.  Well, one bee  is.  Every time I go to the garden, SHE (the designated spokesbee) is there buzzing angrily about my head, cussing like a sailor.  I tried to tell her, “It wasn’t me.  It was that crazy person in the white suit.”   But she’s angry and suspicious.  I think she knows.

Each year, the bees appoint a spokeswoman to come and tell me news like, “We are thirsty, wench.  Bring us a pint!” Or “Winter is here.  I’m going to go off and die now.  Just thought you might want to know so you’ll feel awful and sad and stuff.”  They find me, wherever I am on the farm and tell me their tales.  So far, I don’t much like this year’s representative.  She’s pushy and rude.

I set out swarm traps on Saturday, mainly because I have all this equipment and only two active hives.  I took two supers, filled them with drawn comb and sprinkled on a few drops of lemon grass oil.  After adding bottom boards and covers, I set them in places I thought bees might like.  One hive I set in the old red maple down by the dry creek in the bottoms.  It’s about six feet off the ground and fastened to the branch with a ratchet strap.

Ratchet straps are just so handy, once you figure out how to work them.  One to hold the hive together at this awkward angle and one to hold the hive at this awkward angle.  The nice thing about this location is I can just peek underneath the hive to see if anything has moved in.  And, more importantly, no ladder required!

Ratchet straps are just so handy, once you figure out how to work them. One to hold the hive together at this awkward angle and one to hold the hive at this awkward angle. The nice thing about this location is I can just peek underneath the hive to see if anything has moved in. And, more importantly, no ladder required!

The other is up on the hill at the cemetery, sitting about three feet off the ground on one of the stones in the ruins there.

A tumble of stones.  We have no idea what sort of building once stood at the top of the hill.  Was it a house or a mausoleum?  Was it a tobacco shed or smokehouse?  There's a decent sized hold beneath one of the larger rocks and I suspect it is the door to fairy land.

A tumble of stones. We have no idea what sort of building once stood at the top of the hill, just outside the cemetery. Was it a house or a mausoleum? Was it a tobacco shed or smokehouse? There’s a decent sized hole beneath the large stone on which the hive rests. I suspect it is the door to fairy land.  If you’ve ever seen Darby O’Gill and the Little People, you’ll understand.

So far, no takers, but by all accounts, swarm season has begun.  Maybe I’ll get lucky.

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http://www.backyardfarmingconnection.com/2013/04/the-backyard-farming-connection-hop-27.html

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

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