Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bees and tomatoes and beauty

Before the weather remembered that it was February, I did get over to my friend's beehive. She's been very patient with me, but would like to actually get some honey from her hive. If this hive doesn't step up, I may be reduced to sneaking filled frames over there to "find!"

One picture first -- this is how you can tell that a hive has been robbed of honey.See how the edges of the cells are rough, as though some little mandibles have nibbled the cappings away?

That was from one of my hives, the "dead" one.

In front of my friend's hive, there were a couple of drones dead -- I couldn't tell if there was anything disease-wise wrong with them, but they didn't look right. Perhaps they'd been preemptively pulled due to Varroa mites.

Inside, the hive looked relatively quiet:

I found some really wonky comb, and cut it off, but then saw that most of it looked pretty good. This is comb that was tied in (you can see the remains of the rubber bands in the picture above) from the top-bar hive last summer. Flat caps are worker brood, raised ones are drone brood:

There was enough brood to make me think the queen is doing well. I would have liked to reverse the hive bodies, but right about then I felt what I was pretty sure was a bee in my bra. That's a phrase I've never really wanted to use! Anyhow, that took the starch all out of me, and all I wanted was to get inside and disrobe.

So we put a honey super on, and I'll go back another day and switch the lower boxes. After it warms up, that is.

(And yes, it was a bee, but she didn't sting me before I managed to get her out of me. I was very very pleased by that.)

Tomatoes in February?

A front-yard volunteer has decided that it's time to bloom. I hope the weather holds. It's going to be fun to find out what variety is lurking under the lime tree. (Cue horror movie music.)

Lastly, while I'm all about the edible (I sort of get pretty gardening, but not enough to want to do it), I don't think a garden is enough without flowers. These happen to be edible Johnny Jump-ups, but I'm still excited about them.

It's going to be a pretty spring.


Michelle said...

I get the pretty flower gardening thing, but it definitely takes a backseat to edible. I have to make the effort once in a while to keep things looking at least presentable around the front entrance. I am sneaking some edibles in the "pretty" garden this year, I just put in a few rhubarb plants that I started from seed last year. And the volunteer borage is staying.

Jeff Vandiver said...

oh goodie, I like the bee posts. Gosh, I can imagine a bee in any part of clothing is quite an experience!

Heiko said...

Tomato flowers already! Nothing wrong with pretty AND edible. What are Johnny Jump-Ups? Sounds fun. Glad to hear you didn't get stung in sensitive areas...

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

Oh dear, a bee in your bra! I did get one zipping up my shirt once, that was alarming to say the least. I can't believe you have tomato blossoms already. We've found some of our cherry tomatoes like to self seed themselves, and sometimes pop up in the strangest, and most inhospitable places in the garden. I'll be curious to see what variety it turns out to be.

Erin said...

Yay! More bee posts! Love it. It's also exciting to find volunteers of anything in the garden, a sign that conditions there are good!

Momma_S said...

I was sitting here, gawking at the bees, getting all excited at the close ups of the hives, then FREAKED when you mentioned a bee in your bra. Nope. Nevermind. I'm back to my screaming like a girl at the site of bees.

Stefaneener said...

Michelle, I do well to clean up the front. And I do love my zinnias. Flowers in the house make perfect sense. Your sneakiness sounds perfect!

EG, I've got loads of 'em! I changed my style of veil to keep bees out -- this was a fluke.

Heiko, it's a random thing. This volunteer is on the east side of an east/south facing corner, so it's got to be warm. Johnny Jump-Ups are a tiny viola, purple and yellow. You might see them candied on cakes. I remain currently un-stung. . .

CVF, nothing beats seeing the _back_ of a bee in one's veil. I changed to a more secure suit after a while. That tomato has me surprised too.

Momma_S, no, no screaming needed. I just had my jacket on loosely over pants -- I don't know how they got in. Usually I wear a complete cover up and rubber bands on my ankles and have NO bees on me. I'm wondering if I'll ever be brave enough to work bare-handed. Really, it's fine usually. I draw the line at undergarments.

Ribbit said...

How perfect!!! the boy said that he was going to just DDIIIIEEEEE if he didn't get biscuits with "Neener's sweet honey" on them. And so there he sits now eating his biscuit with your sweet honey. It's a good night.

Jan said...

Glad that bee didn't sting you! We tend to get tomatoes popping up wherever has had washing up water thrown on it... but NOT at this time of year!

Mr. H. said...

If I was to get two hives one of these years would it be better to keep them seperated from each other to reduce the risk of both having the same problems, whatever that might be?

Some of our best tasting and performing tomatoes usually end up being the volunteers. I can't wait to hear what yours turns out to be.

kitsapFG said...

Is a bee in the bra similar to a "bee in your bonnet"?! LOL!

The hive care and info is really interesting. Hope the volunteer tomato turns out to be a hardy and productive and TASTY individual.

allisonmariecat said...

Eeeee, a bee in the bra! I'm impressed you stayed calm until the opportunity to remove her arose.

Love the gardening...tomato in flower already??? Makes me feel behind :) But we're having possible snow again today, so it's probably for the best.

Stefaneener said...

Ribbit, I'm so glad you still have some. That reminds me -- it's time to make granola again.

Jan, that's interesting -- this is where the wash water gets tossed but I don't remember doing anything with tomatoes in it. Usually it's vegetable-wash water. More likely it was a mushy cherry a kid tossed over. We'll see, I hope.

Mr. H., bees fly 2 miles, so they're going to mix. You have to move them so far apart it really isn't worth it, nor is it any guarantee. They're pretty good about staying apart even with hives next to each other. There are lots of good bee keeping books out there, and lots of (sometimes conflicting) information on the web. I think you'd enjoy it, and you don't have to wear a bra!

kitsapFG, yes, it is similar in its motivational qualities. The tomato is a fun mystery.

Allison, the tomato is a VOLUNTEER. I have no idea how it will do, and I certainly didn't plant it. All of my other tomatoes are behaving themselves downstairs. Sorry about your snow. I'm feeling whiny about the incessant rain.