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

-C.S. Lewis

Stream In January

Stream In January

Monday, November 30, 2009

November Bees and Garden

November is almost gone and the garden and beeyard are both very quiet. Temps were mild yesterday and there were a good many bees out enjoying the sun, but a cold rain is falling today and there is a possibility of snow by mid-week. We enjoyed a dusting on Thanksgiving day. I have raised the hives so I can clean debris from beneath the screened bottom boards. I can also pack with insulation if the winter temperatures are extreme. Entrance reducers are also in place for the cold even though the bees didn't like them at first. Being the adaptable little creatures they are, it didn't take them long to feel comfortable with the reduced space. I have also reversed the inner cover providing an airspace over the frames in the shallow super. I'll monitor the entrance reducers when we have snow to keep the entrance from becoming entirely closed and affecting circulation in the hives. Both hives are heavy with capped honey, but I'll keep a check on weight and feed if I feel is necessary.

The garden is still productive with turnip greens, onions and herbs. Other than rosemary, my herbs overwinter very nicely. It was good to be able to have fresh sage, parsley and onions to season the Thanksgiving bird. I took advantage of the warm weather yesterday and dug out a bed of phlox that was growing next to the fence. I'm going to plant cucumbers there next spring as it's a great place for the cukes to climb. I shoveled on about 4 inches of compost and organic matter in the space. Last week I ordered 3 ligonberry plants from Stark's Nursery and they should arrive today. Ligonberries are also known as Mountain Cranberries and should do very well in my mountain garden since they like the same growing conditions as blueberries - acidic soil. They can tolerate cold winters and also like some shade in the afternoons. I hope the blooms will be another good source of nectar and pollen for my bees.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More Bears

Wednesday mornings I usually spend at the library and then onto The Village Green for lunch. There was a phone message waiting for me when I returned home this week. Gary, my husband, had called and very calmly told me he was standing 10 feet from a bear. He was helping an older friend close his house for the winter and was inside doing some work. Our friends had thrown some bread in the yard before leaving to return to Florida and the bear was having his lunch! G. was able to watch the bear for about 15 minutes as s/he wandered around the yard. There is a small pond and he was amused to see the bear drink some water and then blow bubbles! Do bears play? :) I'm beginning to get jealous because my daughter and husband have seen probably a dozen bears this summer and I've only seen 4. Of course, 2 of them I didn't really want to see because they were headed towards the beehives. Which brings me to a sad story...

I learned this week that 2 of my fellow beekeepers had, between them, lost 5 hives to bears. I feel bad for them but what I feel even worse about is that in both instances the bears were shot and killed. I realize I live in an area where bears have been hunted for a long time, but I still have a hard time accepting the fact than any animal has to be destroyed.

Enjoy these pictures my father-in-law took last summer. This big fellow came up on the deck and tore down a birdfeeder during the middle of the afternoon. This is a big guy. Maybe 200 pounds. This one is not nearly so big. He spent some time nosing around at the front of the house before using the driveway to leave.