Monday, October 27, 2008

Bee Season's Over

No, I haven't seen the movie yet. I liked the book, and bee magazines are featuring the beekeeper who trained the actors on the set in interviews. Looks to me like this lady is taking something of a final bow. Yesterday I did my final hive inspection of all three hives, and I'm hoping to get out to one final top-bar hive at a friend's if it's sunny for the next couple of days. It's time and past time. Friends are finishing their harvests all over, but I didn't pull any honey from these hives this fall.

Two of the hives were moved, and by moved, I mean cut from top bars and tied into frames, in June and July. This set them back a bit, in terms of production. I took honey then, but anything they've managed to put up in the last two-three months is theirs to keep. They have to eat something in the winter, even if we don't get serious weather out here. The third hive, the one in the picture, in fact, is a tiny swarm I caught late in the summer. I'm not completely convinced that they're going to make it over the winter, even if I feed them in December/January, which I plan to do. They might not be able to keep themselves warm enough, and I don't want to fuss with stacking them on their screen bottom on top of another hive. Just more hassle than I'm willing to undertake (sorry, ladies!), so they're on a sink-or-swim kind of trajectory.

I saw the queen in the lavender hive in the background of that picture. She was just. . . well, queening along. Beautiful, but I couldn't tell if there were eggs in the comb she was walking on or if it was a spotty brood pattern. I may requeen all the hives in the fall next year, just to know where I am with them. Or not. It may work out well without the added expense and hassle.

The bees are active still, on the days when it's not so cloudy and cool, they get a few good hours in. This plant has them all excited -- I don't know if it's something special, or if it's just that there isn't much blooming lately. Just stick your tongue right in, apparently. Yum:

Other things are about to bloom, like the sidewalk pumpkins! Go figure.

A final bit of bee housekeeping (after I counted frames of brood and honey and made certain that there were stores right next to the brood nests) was to stop the ants from getting in. The hives that are more ant-ridden are grouchier. No one needs ants in their houses. So I use Tree Tanglefoot, and make sticky barriers to keep the ants out, and have to stir the bands up every once in a while because the chickens kick up dirt when they bathe and make it much less sticky. Just one more thing that I bet the bees appreciate (when they're not getting stuck there themselves) and it makes me feel as though I'm doing what I can for them. Since I'm not a Super Beekeeper, I do what I can.

I'm apparently not a great citrus grower either, because something is making the tangerines split. Too much bath water? Too little? Wrong timing? Maybe they won't all split. I'd love to have a few off of this tree. It's Thing 3's special tree.

And as always, I'm swamped with work. When I'm done transcribing the last 20 rows of the mittens, I may try to knit again. But possibly not. I'm just in deep. The shorter days make me grateful for any time I spend outdoors, but also make me want to get my needles going again. I'll have to schedule it for me, I think.


suzee said...

Swimming upstream, you are. I know the feeling. My mantra is "December 19, December 19, December 19..." (the last day of finals and the start of the last weekend of Christmas Carol.

Can we have coffee/tea then?

Your photos, other than the top one, aren't showing.

allisonmariecat said...

Lilah's comment of the day (pointing with excitement): "Bee! Bee! Buzz!" Indeed.

You seem like a pretty dedicated beekeeper to me, but what do I know?

Love the sidewalk pumpkins!

Citrus doesn't like pee-water, didn't you know? :-) Just kidding. I asked my dad, who's in ag out in CA, and he confirmed what I turned up on google:

Here in California, hard dry fruits which split are usually a sign that they don't get enough regular irrigation. All citrus have lots of shallow roots, and really benefit from good mulching and regular applications of water to give them a good soak, especially in the dry season. Drying winds during heat spells can also cause trees to lose a lot of water, so irrigation to replace the water loss is also important even in winter if you get hot winds and not enough natural rains.

It can also be virulogic or hereditary, but that would mean replacing trees, so I'd go with the water thing.

S said...

Gorgeous photos! My grapefruit taste terrible. In fact all our citrus is inedible. And I have a Meyer lemon sitting in a bucket I need to plant. I want to put it near the hives. I should do it right now while the bees are cold. I hope you get some good tangerines. And thanks for linking to my blog!

Katherine said...

Yes, gorgeous photos! You could make a bee calendar. : ) I wonder how you re-queen a hive...bring in a new one and let them fight it out? The Magic School Bus book I have as a reference is letting me down on this one.