Sunday, March 22, 2009

Garden, Bees, etc

I got the boys out in the garden this afternoon to show them how to use a garden rake and to plant carrots, onions, and peas. My oldest son Wade planted several rows of carrots while my youngest Jake planted peas and onion sets in his area. My hope is to foster a love of gardening in them. I turned over the dirt for them but had them use the garden rake to break up the clumps and rake things smooth. Each worm was a real 'find' for them. I encouraged them to cover the worms back up so they don't dry out. Each of them made a sign for their area of the garden with their names on it. After planting I had them each water their gardens. So far we've planted onions, garlic, peas, asparagus (planted an additional 50 plants last year), carrots, and lettuce. I have starts going in the greenhouse for peppers, tomatoes, onions, eggplant, and cukes. Hope it's a good year for the garden!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Brooding Turkeys

Last year my wife and I took the plunge and ordered some heritage breed turkey poults from Murray McMurray. We lost about half of them during an unexpected cold snap last spring but managed to raise two hens and a tom for the table. The tom was our Thanksgiving Day centerpiece. Delicious! Out of that original order we kept two hens and a tom with the intention of trying to get them to breed. It looks like our chocolate hen is sitting on 5 eggs at the moment. She rarely comes out and hisses like a mother chicken hen when you get too close. We'll see how she does.

Friday, March 13, 2009

More Bee Photos

Photos showing honeybee eggs in worker cells, worker larvae in cells, capped drone larvae, and a queen cell from a newly emerged queen. Notice the 'hinged' flap at the bottom of the cell that's still hanging on. In the photo showing the eggs in the cells you can also see two drones. These are male bees with their characteristically huge eyes.

Beekeeping Photos

Over the years I've taken what I consider to be some decent photos in the bee yard. Every year when I teach the beginners class I wish I had some of those photos to show the students an example of some of the things I'm talking about that aren't part of the presentation. Guess I need to update the presentation for next year. Anyway enjoy the photos.

Check out the nice mouse nest I found in a hive that died over the winter. This is what awaits you if you don't get your mouse guards on in time.

The frame covered with bees shows the nice 'pie crust color' of healthy capped worker brood.

Getting Started

The beekeeping year has started. I'm well along into teaching this year's beginning beekeeper class at the Virginia State Arboretum. Today I spent about 6 hours total scraping very old comb off of very old frames and melting the wax down over a wood fire in the front yard. I also cut down all of my old deep boxes into mediums which left me with a bunch of very useful 'shims' that are very handy to have. I think the wood fire method is a loser when it comes to melting comb. It's hard to beat the solar wax melter for getting really nice-looking purified wax. Unfortunately solar melters don't work too well when it's snowing outside.

While our main sideline, hobby, money-losing business is beekeeping we also dabble with turkeys, chickens, gardening, our orchard, and a myriad of other projects. More on those later. I'll see if I can find a photo of our very fine looking Tom turkey who spends his waking hours wooing the hens. He's quite a sight strutting his stuff.