Sunday, April 20, 2014

Weekend Happenings..

While it wasn’t a balmy 70 or 80 out this weekend (thankfully!) we did spend it working on two of our current projects.

Randy worked himself sore hammering in sleeves, hauling gravel and concrete and setting the post for the deer fence in place.

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What you don’t see very well is that the top and bottom monofilament lines are in place as well.  We are getting there, it’s a slow process but it’s coming together.  While meandering around helping with little things I discovered a few wildflowers coming up on their own in the woods, lucky for me they are on the right side of the fence!

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While he worked on things I couldn’t help with (even though I did try my hand at pounding in the sleeves with the sledge hammer!) I worked on finishing up some mulching in the bee area and the transplanting of some Spring flowers to their new home under the maple tree.

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I also finished cleaning out the rest of the garden beds, spent some time cutting down briars, honeysuckle and dog rose. 

I told Randy that we needed to spend some time working on one of ‘his’ projects so we started the stoning process of the grill island.

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It took a few rows to get the pattern and process down but when he did,

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Wow!  I think it’s going to be awesome and I love the look of the stone, it just fits with our home.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Deery Me…

We did not get as far as I wanted, but in all honesty I want it all installed in a day.  So Randy getting as far as he did is a blessing and a start!

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This is a gate opening, it’s not set yet, just standing in the holes Randy dug, by hand, by the way.  That gate will give us access to the woods for whatever reason we may need it. 

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Randy put the sleeves down every 12’ they will be driven into the ground and a post will go in them.  It doesn’t look like a lot but this is the longest span of fencing.  He also wanted to start with this section so we could get the hang of installation.

While he was doing that I was cleaning up around various plants.

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I removed the leaves from the struggling yellow bush (struggling because the deer keep eating it!). 

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I pulled all the honeysuckle and weeds off the berm for years I’ve admired the ferns on it, I want to give them a chance to really shine and since this will be in the fenced area I also see some potential for using it!

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I found some native ferns buried under the leaves close to the fence line, native is also a great find!

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I did a major rake and rip out all along this edge.  All the suckers from the Carolina Allspice, the dog rose and wine berries were removed.

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The reason is that from here to the bee area is going to become part of my planting area.  I hope!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Bee-gining again…

My first package of girls arrived on Wednesday.  I’m doing things a little differently this year, I’ve ordered from different places and they are being shipped at different times.  My thought process was to see if some did better than others based on time of arrival and who they were from.

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I also decided to try a different install method this time.  I know that the time worn tradition of slamming the box down on something and ‘pouring’ the bees into the hive is the way most beekeepers do it.  I know from life experience that just because something has ‘always’ been done a certain way, doesn’t mean it’s the only way or even the best.  So in lieu of the ‘Slam & Pour”, I did the ‘Open & Leave’.  That involves a lot less stress on me I removed the sugar can, took out the queen cage and set the wood lid back over it.  I pooped the cork on the queen cage and poked a hole in the candy.  I attached the cage to a frame with a thumb tack and then I sat the entire package down in the hive box with 4 frames, took the wood off, put the top on, put the feeder on, put another box on and closed it up.  That was it and I’ll do it again too!  No angry bees buzzing my head because they were tossed around in a cage, no dead bees dumped out into the hive either.  I went down the next morning and took the now empty package out and put the hive back together.  I’ll go down again and make sure the queen is out and take the cage out. 

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It’s really nice to have bees back in the yard.  I love having them fly about when I’m outside working.

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It’s also nice to have activity in a hive again.  That hum from busy bees is a very soothing sound!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Bee…ready….

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The first two packages are due this week so we had to get on the ball and get the stands on their new moat feet.  While Randy worked on that and a few odds and ends, I worked on picking out the best combs to add to the boxes.  I want to give these girls every chance to succeed so reusing that comb is important.  I also took three pieces off of Lang frames and attached them to top bars, in hopes that this will give those girls a boost too.  Randy made me a special holder for the pail feeder in the top bar so that I don’t have to disturb the girls in the hive when I refill.  He also made a couple of special bars to allow them to get up into the supers (if I ever get that far!) 

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Here’s a better shot of the moat feet.  We used PVC caps, epoxy and bolts to make these.  I’m going to add a little water and oil to the caps and PRAY that this will stop the blasted ants from over running my hives.  I’m really wondering if they haven’t been adding to the troubles the girls have had.  In any event, these will be put on all the hives.

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This is the newest addition to the family. This is not a hive stand we built, it use to be the stand for the old hot tub filter but it’s going to work in a pinch.  I debated on getting a metal stand with built in moats, seemed like a nice idea but I didn’t want to spend more money.  So instead of getting Randy to pour concrete and build another stand we are using shorty here.  Maybe that will be the hives name..Shorty.

I will do my best to get good pictures of the installs this time!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April First…

I went out to let Cooper gallivant for a while in the sun.  It was so pretty out I came back in and got my camera to take a few pictures of some of my Spring flowers in bloom.

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Of course I had to get a couple of pictures of Cooper!

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I was walking around the yard when I noticed something interesting, a lot of activity at the beehives. In case anyone ever wanted to know, this is what it looks like when an empty hive is being robbed out.

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Not too much different from what a happy hive looks like right?  Well here let me show you something else;

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See those specks all over the front, that the stolen goods being brought out.  It’s my own fault for not having closed it off before now.  The last time I checked it was when I realized my colony was gone and I haven’t been back since.  Now that it’s warm, these bees that are looking for food wherever they can find it, found basically fast food and are tearing the comb apart to get to it.  So tonight I’ll be closing that up for sure! 

Happy April 1st…no fooling!

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Big Green Island…

It was cold outside but Randy was determined to work on his BGE Island!

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It’s actually starting to look like something now!  I know he’s excited to get the backer board finished.  We still haven’t decided what’s going to go on the outside though!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Trees, Bees, Birds and Cooper…

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Despite the fact that winter keeps making a come back, Spring is pushing forward!  It’s cloudy and grey today, maybe it’s 40 out, after a beautiful 70 and sunny day yesterday.  I saw crocus in bloom and they were being pollinated by honey bees!  Not my bees, but I’m getting ready for their arrival!
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I did some minor cleaning up and cutting down fluffed the leaves up a little.  I was going to take them up all together, but since plants are coming up and they are calling for cold and snow I decided to wait till I had some more time to spread some form of mulch, either leaf or pine fines.  There in the front you can see the new makeshift hive stand.  It’s shorter than the others but it’s going to work for now.  You can also see that the top bar hive with it’s custom made supers is finally outside, I can hardly wait to fill up these hives with bees.  It’s going to be a great year I just know it!
I’ve been after Randy to move my bird feeders for awhile now.  Even though I love being able to see them from the living room, I loathe the mess the sunflower seed hulls make.  So we spent some time setting up the new bird feeding area and I really like it!
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It’s located just between the pond and the bee garden.  I can see it from the windows in the sunroom which is nice because I tend to sit and read or just relax out there more so than in the living room. It also gives them more places to perch and fly off to when the hawks come.  I’m going to add some evergreens to this area for them as well.  I don’t think you can ever have enough evergreens!
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That is extra especially true now that we’ve had a few trees taken down in order to get a little more sun into the yard.  It was bad enough when our neighbor cut down all her pines, now it’s really bad!  We’ve contacted a landscape company and they are drawing up a plan to plant wildlife friendly and as deer resistant as possible evergreens to create a screen along the property edge.  I really miss those pines…
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There was a tree here too, this is out in front of the living room.  I have a few remaining plants to move and this area is going to become grass.  This winter has been wonderful when it was snowy and white, but when it was just cold and grey, that brown leaf mess made me long for grass to look at.  So there are so big changes coming down the road for the yard and my flower garden.  I’ve reached my breaking point with the deer too.  I can’t imagine how much money I’ve spent in plants and repellents of every type trying to stop them.  I probably could have fenced in the entire yard, maybe twice!
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Sadly the plum and the redwood are no more.  The plum had developed some sort of blight that was killing it off.  Randy was nice enough to cut this off high so that I can dig up my clematis before he rips the stump out.  The redwood was just planted in the wrong place and that’s our own fault.  The one on the other side of the yard is growing happily though!  Randy saved the trunk of the redwood, he wants to make something from it. Hmmm???
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With all those trees coming down we have a small pile of woodchips to deal with.  I’ve plans for some but not all of them.  They will make wonderful material for paths around the pond and beehives!
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Cooper continues to grow, he’s 9 months old now and is still the sweetest dog I’ve ever had.  He started his advanced puppy class as well as a basics class last week.  We want to take him to as much schooling as possible, lots of socialization that will help him be a fantastic canine!   Having him around as many dogs, people and places as possible we think is really important. Having him listen and be polite doubly so, when he’s a full grown Great Dane!
Happy Sunday!