Hive Inspection in the Middle of January

Lots of bees coming in and out of one hive.

Lots of bees coming in and out of one hive.

The temperatures were warm enough on Saturday that I was able to do a bee inspection with David here.  Looking inside the green hive, the bottom hive body was completely empty and the bees were all in the top half.  This hive also had the most activity of the three hives.  All three hives are still alive and well.

While we had the hives open, we added emergency feed to the top.  This is basically five pounds of sugar with just enough water in it to make it into a paste-like consistancy.  The feed was directly on top of newspaper layed over the top hive body with holes punched in the paper. This way, the bees can get to the feed without the feed falling down into the hive and making a giant mess of things.

The Start of Spring Cleanup

Today was warmer than it has been in the past few weeks and I was able to take advantage of that so start my spring garden cleanup.  I still have some grass invading my garden plot that is going to take a large amount of work to get out.  I managed to get a bit out today, but I really need to get ahold of a good garden rake to separate the plant matter from the dirt.  Otherwise, as soon as it gets warm again, the grass will come out of dormancy and just pick up invading my garden, which I don’t want.

Nice, rich compost.

Nice, rich compost.

I also have started turning over the large compost pile I started on my property last year just after I moved in.  I started at the back of the pile so that I can start putting the leaves on my property in that place to start the next year’s compost and have this years available in a month or two.  With the exception of the top weeds and some pockets of leaves, the compost was like a dark, rich soil.  I still have a bit of learning to do to get the small clumps of leaves decomposed with the rest, but I can’t complain.  Overall, it turned out much better than I was expecting.

The forecast for tomorrow is looking a bit warmer than it was today and as it is a weekend, it will be available for me to do work outside.  Also, David, my brother-in-law is planning on coming down to help out with things, but most likely to take a peek at the hives.

This is also the time of year to start looking at seed catalogs in preparation for the next planting.  I’ve had my nose in online catalogs for a couple of weeks now trying to figure out what I want to try growing this year.  I am planning on trying to grow some variety of corn this year and I have my eye on either the Painted Mountain or the Bloody Bucher variety of corn.  Both are different shades of red and look to be good for making corn flour in addition to being eye-catching.  I’m planning on planting buckwheat for as a nectar source, as a grain source and to evaluate it as a smother crop for killing more parts of my lawn to turn into garden.

Aluminium Melt Failure

Things rarely go well the first time something is done.  This is no exception.  I have been wanting to start melting aluminium soda cans and learn the skills I need to do metal casting in my back yard.  I have a basically continuous supply of aluminium from soda cans.

Coffee can crucible filled with aluminium cans in fire.

Coffee can crucible filled with aluminium cans in fire.

This attempt failed, but just barely.  I used a steel/iron coffee can crucible to hold the aluminium cans as they melt.  I built up a good coal base from wood logs and forced air into the fire with a stand fan.  This got the can a nice glowing orange and the cans did start melting, but it didn’t get quite hot enough.  I never got a good molten pool of aluminium.

Aluminium stuck in the coffee can.

Aluminium stuck in the coffee can.

In the end, I took a hammer to the can to try to extract the aluminium from the coffee can crucible, but this failed and just crushed the can.  I think that next time, I will use some of the charcoal that I have made to get things going hotter than this time.