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I Love It!

September 28th, 2009

I love it when I catch a bee mid-flight. I have a few of these photos and each time I capture one it just makes me smile, I don’t know why. I think it’s perhaps because their little legs are dangling or perhaps because these bumble bees look as though they shouldn’t be able to fly.
bee_mid_flight
When I downloaded my photos yesterday this one brought a smile to my face, I thought I’d share a smile with you today!

What brings a smile to your face?

Free Pollinator Plant Guide

July 30th, 2009

While reading through my current Organic Gardening magazine I came across a small article about pollinators. The Pollinator Partnership is offering a free guide: Selecting Plants for Pollinators.
Bees_on_milkweed
If you’re interesting in downloading this free guide, just type in your zip code when you follow this link and they’ll give you the guide that’s specific for your region. I happen to be in the Eastern Broadleaf Forest Oceanic Province and NAPPC Including the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island and parts of: Delaware, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee.
Honeybee_on_Nicotiana
Pollinators also include butterflies and hummingbirds, along with beetles, flies and bats. Who wouldn’t want to attract more of these to their gardens?
Hummingbird_at_feederMonarch_Butterfly
Bee_on_Echinacea
I downloaded the guide yesterday and have been looking through it. I’m always looking for new plants to introduce to my gardens that will be beneficial for pollinators and other insects.
Butterfly_on_Echinacea
I love that this buide includes a chart of flowers and their bloom time so you can stagger the blooms so that somethings always providing pollen and nectar for the beneficial birds and insects in your gardens.

Have you incorporated any new plants this year specifically for pollinators?

Sleeping Bees

July 18th, 2009

Yesterday afternoon we had a thunderstorm roll through. I was out on the porch watching the rain when I noticed this little guy (or gal) sleeping on my hanging basket. I suppose since he can’t be out flying around he figured a catnap would be nice.
Sleeping_Bee
He slept here through the entire rain storm and a few minutes after it ended he took off to go about his business gathering nectar & pollen.

Have you ever noticed sleeping bees in your gardens?

Checking on the Our Hive Split

July 16th, 2009

Yesterday we went out and checked our two hives. We wanted to make sure the old hive was still doing well and thriving, and they are (time to put on a new box for them).
Checking_on_the_Beehive
We also wanted to make sure the new queen had been accepted and was going to work laying eggs and building the new hive, and she was. We were able to spot eggs, larvae and new capped brood in the new hive. That means our queen is hard at work and she’s no longer living in a tiny box, she’s got a whole hive to rule over.
Empty_Queen_Cage
Because we split our hive we won’t be able to harvest any honey this year. It’s the honey harvesting season right now, so we’ll be searching out a local beekeeper to buy some all-natural local honey from!

Do you buy local honey?

Crazy New Beekeepers

July 7th, 2009

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know we’re new beekeepers. We got our first hive back in April. We’ve been checking on the bees regularly and they’re doing quite well.
Bees_going_in_hive
The week before last Mr Chiots checked on the bees one day while I was gone and he got stung. He looked inside the hive and didn’t see any eggs so he got worried that our queen was MIA. He called Dave, the guy we got our bees off of, for some advice and Dave suggested requeening the hive. So we ordered up a new queen. We were hoping to get an Ohio Queen Project Queen, but the guy we wanted to buy from was out of queens for the year. So we ordered up another lovely Italian lady.
New_Queen_Bee
We got the queen. We decided to do one more hive check to see what was going on inside. Low and behold the hive was bustling with activity and the queen was in there doing her job laying eggs and everything looked just like it should. We called Dave and he suggested requeening anyways, which would involve catching and killing our old queen. We didn’t really want to do that because she’s been such a great queen so far, so we decided to do what any crazy beekeepers would do, we decided to split our hive.
New_beehive
We ran out and bought the few things we needed and went about splitting our hive. Basically when you split a hive you take some of the bees from the orginal hive and put them in a new hive with the new queen. You leave her in her cage for a few days so the bees accept her as theirs and then you release her and you’ve got yourself another hive of bees.
Beekeeper_in_Suit_behind_hive
Now of course, nothing is as simple or as easy and it sounds on paper or in our heads. There are a lot of steps involved in splitting the hive, the most tedious task being finding the old queen to make sure she’s not in the frames you move over to the new hive.
Bees_in_a_hive
After searching and searching we finally found her (she is unmarked). She was of course not in the same spot she’s been every other time we’ve checked our hive, which made us a little nervous at first. But we finally found her and put her safe and sound back into her old hive.
Frame_of_bees
The smoker comes in quite handy during these times since it keeps the bees occupied while you’re trying to work. Since we were in the hive for so long looking for the queen we were glad we had it around.
Bee_smoker
Smoking_the_beehive
We then moved some frames over to the new hive and put the new queen cage in. Dave suggested we wait 4 days to release her, so today’s the day we plan on doing that. If they accept her, which they should, we’ll how have hive #2 at Chiot’s Run. The one thing we have to worry about is that both of our hives can build up enough reserves of honey and pollen for the winter. We plan on feeding them some sugar syrup through the dry nectar flow in July-Aug so give them the best chance of survival.
two_beehives
So we now have 2 hives at Chiot’s Run. We hope they both are strong going in to winter, if not we may combine them again for better winter survival chances. We haven’t even named the first one and now we have another.

Have you ever done anything crazy where you had no idea what you were doing but went ahead and jumped in with both feet?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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