Bees, Bees, Bees

This Spring has been slow on the garden front.  I’ve just been too exhausted and not feeling well enough to stay ahead of things.  I managed to get the greenhouse tomatoes started, and they’re setting fruit, but it will be at least a month before they’re ready to pick.  I’ve got some basics in outdoors, and I planted a lot of flowers to hopefully sell, but I think I’m going to have to migrate more to small fruit and away from produce as I no longer have the stamina to keep up with veggie production.

I planted two of my raised beds into strawberries last month from starts I’m made last summer, and I planted a few dozen gooseberry and currant starts at the edges of one of my garden areas.  Last year’s strawberries are looking good, I harvested about 20 pounds yesterday but of course there’s no farmer’s market today, but it does start up again next week so I hope to start selling them there until the tomatoes come in.

The cane fruit are looking fantastic.  All the stuff that did ok last year, when it was planted, has gathered strength and is exploding with new growth now, I’ll post some pix as soon as I can.  I should have tons of blackberries and raspberries this year, the tayberries are looking good and even the poor boyesenberries are looking good finally.

The last month has been all about bees.  My hive from last year didn’t make it through the winter.  I learned a few things I did wrong that didn’t help, but they were never vigorous to start with.  I bought a 3 pound pack of Italian bees from Glorybee and picked them up a few weeks ago, and they’re looking really good.  I thought I had it covered, then a buddy called.  It turns out he has four hives and he doesn’t worry about them swarming, and I ended up catching four swarms at his place.  Two were good sized and two were huge.  I had a couple of boxes and made some quick bottoms and tops and homed two of them in those, and I had a Kenyan Top Bar hive that I put another swarm in and the last went into a nuc box, which was all I had.

I went down to Eugene and bought some box and frame kits from Glorybee last week and got them together and painted, so today I did bee work (oh, and a better bee jacket!).  The first swarm I got is incredible, it had filled the large super with honey and brood, it was jammed full in just 3 weeks, so I put another super and frames on it.  The Italians were about the same, they are looking great.  Both of them had TONS of brood so they’re really taking off.  The smallest swarm I caught is working away, but is lagging way behind the others.

The hive in the top bar is looking fantastic, they’ve built out six bars worth of great looking comb and are filling it up, on only about 10 days, with some brood mixed in.  They’ve built the straightest, best looking combs of the bunch, I think I’ll be building more of the TBH setups.  The hive in the nuc box I moved into a regular super with a screen bottom I’d made.  They’d store up a couple of frames of honey and pollen in only 10 days but I didn’t see any brood, hopefully the queen will start laying soon, I’ll check on them in a week.

Needless to say, with 5 hives I don’t have to worry about pollination. The Obsidian blackberries are in full flower and it’s simply covered with bees (of all kinds, not just mine).  We have tons of forage and nothing but fields and forest around me for miles so don’t think I have to worry about overcrowding here.

I need to remember to do this on cooler days.  I feel a lot more secure wearing a sweatshirt under my bee jacket and between the work, the heat and the stress, I’m exhausted.  I still need to get my outdoor tomatoes in this afternoon before the rain gets here.

Pix to come.

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