Monday, April 16, 2012

The Country Garden Showcase- Week 16

This is a picture of some of my peach blooms yesterday afternoon...
 Can you see them underneath the snow? 
My main garden looks pretty sad too, though everything is doing well.

I have had lots of time to get caught up on my reading this week.  We've had snow, rain, and cold winds.  I didn't have an opportunity to get much done outside for my garden, but I did manage to get my second hive installed today and I re-queened my first hive with a Carniolan queen.  From what I have read, the Carniolans are much more winter hearty than the Italians I already have. Given the snowfall we keep getting... it can't hurt.
 That small plastic "cage" contains the queen.  It hangs inside the hive suspended for several days to protect this new queen.  She is new to the package bees.  It will take her some time to influence them via pheromones to accept her as their queen.  At the bottom of the small cage is a sugar candy insert that I uncapped.  Within a few days (hopefully not too soon) the attendant bees will eat through this candy plug and release her into the hive to get to work.  If all goes well, I will soon have an established Carniolan hive.
 My Carniolan package of bees.  This is a three pound package.  It is estimated to hold about 10,000 bees.  They all look very healthy.  Some got out before we took this picture as I removed the first of two queens from the box.
 I know it looks silly to have my jeans tucked into my socks, but it works better than rubber bands or duct taped ankles.  Behind me, the triangle yard that will soon be my hens playground when they're not free-ranging it in the yard by my side.  I may eventually need to move my bees though, we'll see...  I hope they can co-exist there.
 My new hive sits under the filtered light of a willow tree in the center of our property.  My hubby made me a ventilation super as an experiment.  I have been reading about folks eliminating most bacteria and fungus issues inside hives by improving ventilation and came across a picture of a hive with a homemade super that featured holes that can be kept open for increased ventilation or plugged by corks when needed.  Some are even insulated inside with strips of wool that may wick moisture from below.  We are going to try it.  I have also read that these passive ventilation boxes increase honey too.  It could be a win, win.  It's tough to see, but there are two corks in the front of this one for now.
 I am a new and overzealous beekeeper.  I failed to find my original queen during two thorough inspections, so I ordered the replacement.

Less than a week ago, there were no queen cells in my hive, and no new brood.  Everything flying around was young and new, but nothing cooking inside those cells... Today, to my surprise, three frames were FULL of new brood and there were five new Italian queen cells, so either my eyes are REALLY bad or she's there...

In desperation, I looked for her again to no avail then I decided that instead of adding the new queen, I would split the hive.  I gave half of the bees and new frames to the new Carniolan queen and half to the queen cells.  Maybe I'll get lucky and get three hives in the end... It's worth a shot.

I have been trying to detox the Italians because the home they came from was full of IPM chemical controls for mites.  They came to me from almond orchards in the valley.  I am pretty sure that they've been exposed to lots of toxins in those almond fields.

I am happy to report that one of my experiments seems to be working.  Not wanting to treat with chemicals if at all possible, I have been dusting them with powdered sugar every seven days to encourage them to groom and remove varroa mites.  The first time I did this, there were lots of dead mites under my screened pest management board.  I have been doing this for three weeks now and today I looked hard at the bees and could only see 3 mites among thousands of bees.   The numbers have dropped dramatically in the IPM board capture too, and I'll dust one more time before summer.  The Carniolans are my second IPM strategy.  They are very hygienic and groom themselves regularly.  That appears to be a great start for varroa control, so far. Fingers crossed.

What have you been up to in your garden this week???

3 comments:

  1. Wow. Good luck with that! :o)

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  2. Good luck with all the bees . Hope you get a big batch of honey ! Nice photos ! Have a good day !

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  3. Where do you live? Obviously much farther north than Mississippi!

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