Archive for November, 2012

Gary showed me where these amanitas were. I think he felt bad for harvesting the beautiful King Boletus that I had planned to photograph that very morning.

Walking the dogs in the morning gives us a chance to observe nature.  I’ve been itching to take my camera sans dogs and shoot some photos of the different types of mushrooms.  I got my chance on Thanksgiving Day during a brief break in the rain.

If the sun hadn’t been shining, I would have walked right past these without noticing them.

I found it interesting that these little brown mushrooms grew in a circle around a Eucalyptus tree in someone’s front yard.

At first these blended in with the gravel. My wife says, “They look like gravel.” I says, “They are gravel,” and scraped them with my boot. Ooops.

Another type of mushrooms growing on old gravel road.

Chanterelles…the only type of wild mushroom we will eat, except for the King Boletus, but in my humble opinion, the Chanterelle is the best.


Another chanterelle. This mushroom is so tasty, if you know where to find them, you don’t usually tell anyone else. I protected my spot by harvesting all I could find.

Mushroom growing on very old tree trunk

King boletus, a few days old

You can tell how wet it’s been here.

A big bunch of mushrooms growing on a log. I wish I knew if I could eat them.

More mushrooms on a log

It’s amazing how many kinds of mushrooms there are if you just open your eyes in a wet wooded area.

Salamander climbing over a branch

These mushrooms appeared abundantly in an area logged about a year ago.

Ironically these cultivated logs have been staring blankly at me for over two years.  I don’t know how many 5/16″ holes I drilled, tapped spore plugs into, and melted a wax seal on, but it was a bunch of them…I had to keep letting the drill bit cool down.

There are Terry’s successful mushroom logs. He probably followed the directions.

A real beauty

A look at a shitaki from the top

Looks like these logs popped out a bunch of tasty mushrooms.

My daughter introduced me to Terry after meeting him and his wife at the coffee shop she worked at when she lived in the San Francisco Bay area.  “Dad, this guy is into Top Bar Beekeeping AND mushroom logs.”  (A rare combination, I thought.) “I’ve got to meet him.”  He often sent packets of bee information to me.  One of those packets contained Slovenian Beehive art.  The photo of bees crawling in and out of a carved face as a front of a hive led to my Bee Beard log hive.

For more very fascinating mycelium check out the hugelkulture bed.

Terry mentioned Paul Stamets.  I love the guy.  Okay, I don’t really know him, but give a listen to this TED talk and you will love him too.

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I’m happy to report my Bee Beard log hive came through the hurricane-force winds without getting blown over.  The bamboo and ‘staked’ hay bales must have protected it enough.

Since we are new to beekeeping  we try to pay attention to the advice of more experienced beekeepers.  We have been warned about robber bees attacking the hive…robbing the honey.  I shot this video in an effort to find out if my log hive is getting robbed.  I don’t know whether these are robber bees or just the normal activity of the hive.  They are still bringing in pollen so I’m assuming (naively?) it’s all normal behavior.  The bees came from a feral hive in a tree on private property.  Maybe it’s strong enough to defend itself.

A short video of my Warre Hive is included.  Much less activity can be seen around the Warre.  Is it because I’m feeding them sugar?  Maybe the bees don’t feel the need to venture out.

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It’s early November when the clouds parted and the sun popped out.  The day started warming and the bees started flying.  It had been overcast and rainy for about a week, so I guess the bees were anxious to get out, but I was surprised to see so much pollen coming back in.  The Warre hive had bees flying but not returning with the ‘gobs’ of pollen like the log hive…could it be because I’m feeding  sugar to the Warre hive and not to the log hive?

I have no idea what kind of pollen they are bringing back.  Nothing is blooming in the garden but rosemary and borage and I don’t see many bees on it.  Is this normal behavior this late in the year?  Comments are appreciated.

After reading the comment from Emily Heath, I started looking around the area for ivy.  To my surprise it was growing all over the place.  It’s one of those things that you don’t see until someone points it out to you.  I had to get close to see the blossoms and that’s when I saw the bees.  I hope some of them came from my hives.

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Solar panels installed in June 2009

If it looks like these panels were not purchased all at the same time it’s because they weren’t.  I bought them as I could afford them.  The bottom four were purchased first.  When I wanted more I was told that Brazil was buying all they could make…just wait a few months.  I didn’t want to wait but found some compatible ones built by Solar World right here in the US.

I wanted to be able to produce my own electricity for “just in case” scenarios.   Since we get all our water from a well, if the power grid goes out, we can’t get water.  While the power doesn’t go out very often, when it does, we are without both water and electricity for several days.  I wanted to be able to power those ‘critical load’ items like the well pump, a few lights, the refrigerator and freezer.  Plus I wanted to prove that solar power can be used even in cloudy climates in states that are “north.”  I live on the Oregon Coast.  If it works here, it can work in 75% of the US.

In fact, this system works so well that in the summer time, I have so much extra power I can run my printing presses with it.

This is a sticker I apply to everything I print with solar electricity.  I would be surprised if any other printers in the US could claim that.

During the rainy season it’s a different story.  Our rainy season is roughly mid October to late May, so it was a big surprise when we had an unexpected sunny day a couple days ago.  We had had rainy weather for about a week and my batteries were down.  The meter said I was a MINUS 109 amp hours.  I was going to have to do some  serious charging.

Minus 109 amp hours  before noon

The charge controller shows we have 34.3 amps coming in right now.  If we can keep that going, it’ll take a little over 3 hours to charge up.  I hope the sun stays out.

Minus 57.9 Amp Hours at about 2:20 pm.  We are catching up while producing power at the same time.

We’ve already produced 134 amp hours and the sun is still shining!

170 amp hours produced by the end of the day.

The sun stayed out and the batteries are full.  Not bad for an autumn day.

My “Solar Roller” water pump and a solar oven…

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Bee Beard Log Hive in front of Bamboo

When I decided to place my new Bee Beard Log Hive I considered many things.  I wanted it placed where it would get the morning sun shining into the entrance, well beyond the long reach of the tree shadows in winter, and protected from the raging winter winds that blast from the southwest.  Also I wanted the hive to be visible if possible, on the edge of the garden, so we could observe the bees whenever we worked outside. The placement of the hive in front of the bamboo satisfied all the requirements.  What I didn’t know is that bamboo attracts wasps.  When I started seeing all the wasps on the bamboo I started to panic.  What are they doing around my log hive?  I started recalling the stories at the bee meeting about all the hives that are lost to wasps.  How did I know bamboo attracts wasps?  Is that common knowledge?

Wasp on Bamboo leaf over Bee Beard log hive.

The bamboo was leaning over the log hive…are the wasps going to attack my bees?  What to do?

I plugged the last gap by stuffing the inner tube into it.  Wasps won’t  get in here

Found a piece of bamboo that fit the 1 1/2″ (3.81 cm) hole. This reduces the hole making it easier to guard against wasps.

After  consulting the internet about bamboo I found out that wasps gather fibers from the bamboo for their paper nests.  That’s what they are doing on the bamboo, not attacking the log hive,

Wasps are scary because they can sting again and again, but they also are beneficial because they prey on other pests like spiders, flies, bug, and caterpillers.

We feel that wasps have a place in our garden.  We won’t kill them because they really aren’t bothering us or the bees,   The ground hive is almost never used the next year and once the cold weather hits, it will be inactive.

I shot a short video showing the wasps on the bamboo as well as the very active ground hive.,,

Spider captures wasp.

Chainsaw artist Brian Vorwaller, carving the face on the log here.

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