Back from Business Trip, Bee Swarm and Progress in the Garden

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The second bee swarm this year.

I got back from another business trip to the east coast Wednesday and have been trying to get caught up around the house since then.  On Thursday evening, I discovered a swarm of bees clinging to a dead juniper tree.  This is actually the second swarm this year.  I found the first on the ground under the apple tree while it was nearly freezing outside, and I suspect that swarm died from exposure.  For this hive, I put out a hive body to try to entice the bees to move there without me having to do much work.  All yesterday, there were bees over at the hive body checking things out.  This afternoon I found the bees have left the tree and I suspect they have moved into the hive body, but I don’t want to disturb the hive for a few days.  There is some minor traffic at the hive’s entrance, but not enough to be definitive.

The garden is starting to grow well.

The garden is starting to grow well.  The irises are blooming in just about every possible color.

While I was gone, the garden has started to take off. The lettuce and radishes I planted before I left have sprouted and are starting to grow.  unfortunately, so have the weeds.  I have spent most of the time since I have returned home pulling weeds from the garden.  The most annoying is certainly Bermuda grass.  It is very prolific and also difficult to remove.  I have more than half the garden still to weed.

Since returning home, I have planted Jericho lettuce, some potatoes that were no longer edible on the counter, mammoth sunflowers, and okra.  I also put flower seeds in the front beds along with chives as a border.  I want the front beds to be a bit more colorful than the green and brown, but mostly brown, color they were last year.

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Completed Bee Box

Completed deep with ten frames.

I have finally completed building a deep hive body out of scrap 2x4s.  It ended up taking me a lot longer to get things put together than I would have liked, but that is mainly because the tools I have available for use are an hour and a half drive from where I live.

Because I wanted to be able to make the box entirely out of 2×4, that made it a bit difficult to make the sides of the box.  I ended up slicing the board into slats 3/16″ thick and then nailing several together along a nailer to close up the sides. I used these Hive Body plans I drew up to build the box.  As this is a prototype, I ended up making changes while building it. I ended up adding an extra strip on the along the ends because there was not enough room for the bees to move arround on top of the frames.

The first homemade frame I got put together.

The frames were as easy to put together as the frames I have ordered from Dadant previously. Building them was quite a bit more work. In particular, getting the slots on the top and bottom of the two side pieces took a while to find the right tools. I tried using a chisel at first, but that just destroyed the wood. Using a razor blade and carving the slot out works, but took a massive amount of time. I ended up using a reciprocating scroll saw of my mother’s to get all the slots done in a reasonable amount of time.

Checking In On Things

Burns look and feel a lot better than yesterday.  I ended up going to an urgent care clinic to have things checked on.  I’m a computer programmer when I am not working in the garden, so making sure my hands are working properly is fairly important my livelihood.

The newly dubbed “White Hive”. This is the second and stronger swarm I caught this year.

Before I was burned myself yesterday, I did an inspection of all four hives.  The green hive continues to fill out the super on it and the blue hive continues to ignore its super.  I can’t really blame the blue hive as it swarmed this year. The second of the two swarms, in one white hive body and two supers, has filled the majority of the deep and the top supper with honey, with only a few cells capped in any of it.  I would not be surprised to get a super of honey from this hive.  The other swarm is still  in two supers.  I have a bit of time before that hive needs to be expanded.

Pinto bean pods on the largest bean plant.

Today, I was pleasantly surprised to find that my pinto beans have bean pods growing on them.  The larger of the plants started flowering a week or two ago.  I will need to start putting poles next to the larger plants as they are getting rather large and are starting to topple over.  Altogether, I have about fifteen pods so far on four plants.

The tomatoes are still green, but growing larger every day.

The tomatoes are starting to come faster.  At last count, there are thirteen tomatoes growing.  There are more than fifty small yellow tomato flowers on the plants right now.  Before much longer, I won’t be counting tomatoes because there will be too many.  I’m going to be up to my ears in tomatoes, with a grand total of twenty-seven plants in various stages of development.  Only about a third of those have flowers on them so far.

Very small pecans. I won’t have any pecans ready until sometime this fall.

My wife and my mother noticed that the pecan trees are starting to produce nuts.  Judging from the sizes of the four pecan trees I have on the property, I am going to have a lot of pecans this fall.  I rather like pecans and I’ve lived in a house that had a pecan tree before.  The tree was much larger than any of the pecan trees on my property, but there was only one tree and that one produced enough pecans to fill half a deep chest freezer.  I am probably going to end up giving lots to my family and I may be able to sell some at the farmers market in town.  I don’t know yet what needs to be done for that.

Lots of green grapes.

The grape vines are making some nice bunches of grapes.  I’m not sure how to preserve these yet.  If they were concord grapes, I would be making a lot of the grapes into jelly and canning it.  I will probably try making some raisins from them to see how they are.  I’ve never been a big fan of raisins, so I’m a bit hesitant to make the whole harvest into raisins.  I would also like to try making grape juice from it.

New Hive Parts Assembled

All setup to add the new hive parts.

I got the new hive parts from Dadant yesterday.  I managed to get them completely assembled and painted yesterday night.  It took about two and a half hours all told, but it was worth it because of what I was able to do today.

Today, I put the new parts onto the larger of the two swarm hives I caught this year.  All told, it was a bit more work that I thought it would be.  As I had feared, the bees built comb onto the bottom of the super frames when they finished filling out the supers entirely.

A bad picture of the extra comb the bees built. It is a bit hard to take pictures and work the hive when daylight is fading fast.

I removed all of the extra comb from the bottom of the frames and did my best to encourage the bees to move into the new deep hive body.  There was a little honey, pollen and capped brood in the comb I removed.  All told, it took up almost a 5 gallon bucket without compressing anything down.

I don’t like working with bees after dark as they have a tendency to crawl up my legs and sting me.  This hive also stung me on the legs when I captured it. and it happened to be dark then as well.  This time, two managed to sting me through my socks.