My little garden angel has been watching over my gardens for fifteen years now. Once again, she has come full circle. October has been rainy and the past few days have been cold. I imagine by the end of the weekend she will be wearing her first winter blanket of the season since snow is forecast for the next couple days. I'm ready for it, but won't be here to enjoy as I'm headed out of town to visit good friends. My garden was beautiful this season thanks to the honeybees. The flowers bloomed more fully and the vegetables produced more abundantly. I had more birds and bees, of every kind, than I've ever seen. I'm not plagued with many bugs, but the snails that love my moist garden soil, were at a minimum. In a word, there was balance. Or maybe synergy is a better word.
I've been reading a lot about Russian honeybees and hope to have 2 new hives in the spring. Russians are showing good resistance to varroa and tracheal mites, and from what I'm reading, are, are better suited to my mountain weather. The following is a great article by Dr. Tarpy of NC State.
I've also just gotten a copy of Phil Chandler's book, The Barefoot Beekeeper, and am very interested in Top Bar Hives. I'm such a natural, organic gardener and beekeeper and everything he says makes sense to me in keeping bees in a more natural state. I'll be posting a lot on his ideas in the next few months. Check out http://www.biobees.com/.
I let the dogs out late Tuesday and they let me know in a hurry that there was a problem. I ran out and caught the big backside of a black bear headed down the yard. I could hear it crashing down the stream and through the woods. I had also seen a bear up the road about 3 weeks ago. The bear fence stays on all the time now. Bears know what's coming and are stocking up for the winter. The following photo was taken about 12 miles up the road from us. It's one of the funnier ones I've seen.
At our last bee meeting, a couple of local beekeepers had sad news that some hives had starved. It would seem funny that bees would starve in the fall instead of spring, but most are attributing it to the rainy weather . The bees are having to stay confined to the hives and are eating honey stores. These are experienced beekeepers so I'm listening to what they say and will be checking as often as I can. The weight of both my hives is still good. We'll see after this cold weekend.