One of the impressive things this weekend was how much Eric got done with his finger like this:
Just kind of hurts looking at it. But not as much as our excitement on Wednesday, when he accidentally removed the pin holding the tip of his digit in place. Whoo-ee, that was something. Fortunately he had an appointment at the hand surgeon on Thursday, and instead of re-pinning the joint, the good Dr. just had a splint ready for it. Apparently banging the hard plastic splint hurts a lot less than banging a large needle holding your joint still. Go figure.
Eric also finished stapling chicken wire to the tractor, and added a little in-out flap for the top. That should be a lot easier than dropping the box over them!
Another task Eric took on was bringing some order to the storage sheds under the deck. I've asked for this for a while, and I'm pleased with the ingenious kinds of storage. I can think of more hooks and things that would customize it even more -- this is actually going to be a pretty fun project.
Some garlic is definitely doing well so far. The leeks and onions I thought I'd planted next to it are much less robust. Drat it all. They really have to be started indoors, and I'll try to remember to do that next year.
I meant to do this digging over the course of the week, but oddly enough life got in the way, so it wasn't done. Today I got to one of the small fence-side beds, I did the dig a trench, toss it in semi double dig method of mixing in the horse poo and bedding and some blood meal. The bedding is the bulk of this stuff. If I'd done it sooner, I would have kept some more of the goodness in, instead of letting it all evaporate as ammonia, but we do what we can.
I was impressed at how lovely the soil is. Every year, it's showing improvement. And now, after being raked smooth, that part of the bed is ready to go. Into what, I'm not sure. More sunflowers? They sure were happy last year.
Whenever we work outside, at least one member of the family is happy to just hang out. Here, he was chewing an old bone, but generally he'll chew on anything available. A fruit tree, a pepper stem, the edge of a bed, a boot. . . He really enjoys cold, so being outside on the ground is better even than being on the couch inside. Although he'll do that if it's the only option for Being With The People.
So, the update on the bees is as follows. I was quite afraid of what I would find when I went back into the hives. Did I in fact kill my best queen by slopping too much paint on her (talk about feeling terrible, in fact so badly I didn't detail it on my blog), or did the feeding help the hives at all? Did I attract more bothersome ants to my smaller hive? What was going on?
So, today's warm afternoon meant a trip to buy more sugar to mix syrup for them, and I made a new cover, hopefully one that would allow me to cover the hive securely and allow room for a gallon plastic bag of syrup.
The weaker hive was still there -- this time, two frames covered by bees. This was an improvement. I got out a non-warped cardboard nuc box, and shrank the hive down into it. There were three good bee frames, with babies and nurse bees, and the nicely-marked queen, and a couple of frames of capped honey. On top of all of it I placed a nice full bag of syrup. The cover has enough room so I think the bees can get to it and also be covered. I may have to double-check. Being me, sometimes I overslash the bag and it drowns bees, sometimes I manage to keep them out of it entirely, wasting the whole effort. It works pretty well, when operator error isn't factored in.
The "good" hive was also doing very well. They're filling frames with syrup, and maybe nectar too. I saw brood, and then I saw the queen -- overly marked, sure, but walking around as though nothing was amiss. Oh, what a relief!
The top is not really going to work, at least not with a full bag of syrup. I had to tilt it and then block the opening with a large piece of bamboo. That worked for the two sides, but the front and back are open. If they're too open, the hive is vulnerable to robbing by other bees. I think a 2" tall "extension" around the hive would work best, with the top separate from that. If it were warm enough, I'd put an empty super on top, and then put the top on that. But that's 6 vertical inches of empty space to lose heat to, from the bees' perspective. I don't want to stress them any more than I have to. Back to the drawing board!
I wish we were having more weather like this for them. Unfortunately, it's a week of cold and rain predicted ahead. Oddly enough, the apricot tree, which is covered with blooms and directly in front of the hives, was deserted when I was stalking bees late in the afternoon. The Anna apple, 20' away, was just buzzing with them. Go figure.
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