Experience is a brutal teacher. But you learn, my God, do you learn.

-C.S. Lewis

Stream In January

Stream In January

Monday, March 23, 2009

Garden Journal and Things Smart Beekeepers Don't Do

I wanted to open Walter Bee today to inspect, reverse the inner cover and remove the grease patty. The weather had been mild this morning and I felt early afternoon would be a good time to go in, but after I had been in the garden for a while the sky started to cloud and the wind to blow. The bees were still out flying and bringing in pollen so I decided to open the top and quickly reverse the inner cover and grab the patty. I got as far as the inner cover. There were bees all over the top of the super and the grease patty, so I very hurredly closed the hive. First mistake. When I reversed the inner cover and put it back over the grease patty there was a gap of about an 1/8 of an inch between the top of the hive and the inner cover and the outer cover was sitting at a bad angle. Bees were pouring out of the top. Not wanting to leave the hive so open and vulernable, I decided to go ahead and smoke and finish the job of removing the grease patty. I went to the garage to light my smoker since the wind had picked up. A smoker does what it says it does - it smokes. Which would have been okay except for the fact that while the smoker was smoking away in the garage, I was looking for my hive tool. I've been very organized with my equipment, but could not find it anywhere. I decided a screwdriver would have to do. (Still haven't found my hive tool.) When I got back to the hive, I quickly smoked and calmed the bees, opened the cover and inner cover and removed the grease patty. Since I was in and the bees were calm I wanted to continue with a brief inspection. Screw drivers don't really work like a hive tool and I was trying my best to pry the frames apart in the super. This is about the time my smoker quit. Not good. Bees are beginning to get angry. Thankfully I had on my veil. I managed to get 2 frames loose in the shallow super and was pleased to see some capped honey and also was able to peer down in the brood box and see lots of bees. I've been stung only twice in the year I've been keeping bees and both times because I did something stupid. I was very lucky today. I didn't get stung. Lessons learned -smoke the bees, don't light smoker in the garage, locate all equipment before lighting the smoker, make sure smoker is going to stay lit, take your time, make sure the skies are bright and sunny, no wind, screwdrivers don't really work like a hive tool, the list could go on. Thankfully, I'm a better gardener that I am a beekeeper.
Daffodils in Bloom!

Red Maple Budding Out

I planted some lettuce seed in the garden today. I dug this small bed, spread some seed and covered with a bucketful of compost. There are feral cats in the neighborhood and they like nothing better than to dig in freshly dug earth, so on top of the compost I sprinkled some blood meal. It is usually effective as a deterrent to critters. I'll see if it works for cats.

This is my potato bed. I'm going to plant on top of the soil and cover with mulch, leaves and staw, but I did dig two trenches about 4 inches deep and filled them with compost. I'll probably plant the tubers this weekend. I want to add some bone meal to the soil before I plant and did not have any. Sometimes I put out potatos too early. They come up, but there is always a chance a late freeze will kill the leaves that have sprouted. They recover, but black foliage is not pretty in the garden.

Rhubarb Smiling At Me!


Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

I'm jealous to see your daffodils in bloom. It's still too cold in Canada, but I should check under the leaves to see if my crocuses are in bloom.

Lynn said...

Spring takes it's time coming to my Western NC home. Daffodils and pansies in bloom are always a delight.

vicree said...

Thanks for the tip regarding blood meal as a deterrent to critters. I plan on getting a supply tomorrow and placing some in my garden in what I hope are strategic locations. A large family of squirrels are digging holes every night (or early morning) throughout my garden. I'm sure that in the overall scheme of things that the varmints serve a useful purpose, but I wish that pupose could be served elsewhere. I have been told that they can be trapped easily in a trap baited with peanut butter. Hasn't worked for me!

Sounds like you had a close call while working with Walter Bee - glad you did not get stung.

MissJenny said...

I'm glad you didn't get stung. I got a little stressed out reading your entry!!

Love the garden photos, especially the lovely rhubarb peeking out.

I'm hoping to work on my garden on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, since I have the time off work.

When do I get to plant stuff???

Anonymous said...

Lynn: I had to crack up at your story! :) And to be honest, it made me feel a lot better knowing that I'm not the only one who has "goofed" when handing the girls. I'm told the three-day rule is in effect now. After three days, they'll calm down and forget about "that nasty man in the while overalls" who distubed their house!