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SWARM

June 8th, 2013

Yesterday morning Mr Chiots went out to catch a swarm of bees with our next door neighbor. Here are some photos Mr Chiots took during the adventure.
catching a swarm 7
catching a swarm 6
catching a swarm 5
catching a swarm 4
catching a swarm 3
catching a swarm 1
catching a swarm 2
Now we have a hive of bees sitting up on our hill. Should be interesting to see how these guys do this summer.

Have you ever seen a swarm of bees?

Another Reason for Alliums

June 26th, 2012

As if you need another reason to grow a wide variety of alliums in the garden beside the deliciousness that they bring to your plate. I plant extra leeks and onions so I can leave some in place to produce blooms. Leeks are the best for this because they’re overwintered. I never harvest all of my leeks because otherwise I’d miss these beautiful flowers and so would the bees.


Onions are biennial so they will bloom the second year. These are leeks that I planted last summer, harvested in fall/winter/spring and left a few for the honeybees.


They’re not quite as showy, as big, or as colorful as globe alliums that you buy as flowering bulbs, but they do offer food for our tables and beauty for our gardens. I certainly appreciate plants that do double duty like this!

Do you ever leave any of your leeks or onions to bloom for beauty and for the bees?

Peppermint for Beneficials

September 17th, 2010

The peppermint is blooming in my garden right now and the bees, butterflies and other pollinators are loving it. I’m so happy that it’s blooming at this time of the year when nectar and pollen are quite scarce. I love watching the peppermint patch as it’s abuzz with all types, sizes, and colors of pollinators.





I must divide these plants and add more clumps around the gardens. I know they can be invasive, but in my woodland gardens invasive things barely hold one against the saplings and wild flowers. I find myself trying to incorporate more and more plants that bloom and provide nectar or pollen throughout the season just to provide sources of food for these lovely little insects.

Do you have any plants blooming for the pollinators? Do you plant with them in mind?

Checking our Beehives after a Long Winter

March 16th, 2010

Every couple weeks throughout the winter, we put our ears up the side of our beehives and listening for that humming sounds that bees make keeping warm. There are a few steps you can take to help them survive the winter; you make sure you don’t take too much honey from the hive so they have enough to eat throughout the winter and you try to keep them dry. We didn’t take any honey from our hives last fall, trying to give them the best chance for survival.

If you were reading the blog last summer, you’ll remember that we split our hive. We were worried that the new hive, which was the smaller of the two, might not make it through the winter because of their lower population and less honey stored. Oddly enough all winter long they were the strongest hive, buzzing away quite loudly. When the weather warmed up they were the first bees to leave the hive.

Last week on a warm day (it was almost 70) we decided to check on the old hive, which we were worried hadn’t survived. We found a small cluster of bees and spotted the queen so they seem to have survived the winter, although they appear to be weak (although since this is the first time we’ve overwintered bees, we’re not sure). They still have a ton of honey left, so we’re hoping they make it through any more cold spells we have.

It’s good to see activity at the hives again and see bees flying around the garden on warm days. We noticed that they’re already bringing in pollen, most likely from the crocuses that are blooming and the pussywillows. We’re considering moving our hives to a different location where they’ll get more winter sun. That’s something we’ll be doing soon before they get too big this spring. We also found a great new resource with tips on overwintering bees and beekeeping in general, for those of you interested here’s the link. We’ll be ventilating our hives better this year and wrapping them in tar paper next winter.

Hopefully we’ll have a nice harvest of honey this summer from our hives. We may end up splitting one of our hives again if they’re both strong by early summer. It wasn’t much later than this last year that we got our first package of bees. If you’re interested in getting a hive now is the time to buy. Make sure you ask around to find a good reputable source.

Have you ever thought about getting bees for your gardens?

Snug as Bugs

January 29th, 2010

We’ve been keeping an ear to our ladies this winter. Mr Chiots heads out after each snow fall and makes sure the doors are clear of snow and he scrapes away and dead bees from the entrance. He puts his ear up the hives and listens for that buzzing of bees beating their wings to keep warm. Both of our hives are still buzzing away, one’s louder than the other.

During winter, the worker bees cluster around the queen and brood in the hive. They try to keep the temperature at about 90 degrees. The bees from the outer parts of the cluster will move to the inside as the bees from the inside move out. This way all the bees stay warm throughout the cold winter. On warmer days they’ll take cleansing flights, basically to go to the bathroom. We haven’t had any days warm enough for such flights yet, but we may have one in the next few weeks. We’ll be watching the hives to see what happens come spring.

We’re hoping to have a good honey harvest this coming summer if both of our hives survive. Learning how bees work really makes me appreciate the honey I put in my tea, it’s amazing what they go through to make it!

What kind of foods do you appreciate that take such intricacy to produce?

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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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