Archive for February, 2013

Could this be pollen from the laurel bush?  It's been blooming since Jan. 22.

Could this be pollen from the laurel bush? It’s been blooming since Jan. 22. I know that you can’t tell by color alone, but at this time I don’t have the microscope or capability to properly identify pollen.

This is the first year I’ve had bees into winter.  I was curious about all the types of pollen showing up on the bees entering the hive.  I was sure some of it was gorse since we seem to have so much of it growing thanks to Lord Bennett of Ireland.

I made a 9 minute movie showing the bees on different types of flowers and Shigeo of the local bee association demonstrates how to transplant an Echium.  I realize that some people can’t spare the time, so I’m offering ‘screen saves,’ as well.

Laurel blooming by Bonnie's house

Laurel blooming by Bonnie’s house

Bee on laurel, tannish-colored pollen

Bee on laurel, tannish-colored pollen…January 22, 2013

Bees on rosemary, at City Hall, February 8, 2013

Bees on rosemary, at City Hall, February 8, 2013

Pussy Willows blooming near our hives...sun comes out...bees love it.

Willow catkins blooming near our hives…sun comes out…bees love it.  February 8,2013

Gorse pollen is orange...I had been hoping it was the yellow pollen I had seen going into the hive. February 13, 2013

Gorse pollen is orange…I had been hoping it was the yellow pollen I had seen going into the hive. February 13, 2013

The video shows this bee in slow motion working the pollen back to it's pollen sac.  I didn't see it at first until a more experience bee keeper showed me. February 13, 2013

The video shows this bee in slow motion working the pollen back to it’s pollen sac. I didn’t see it at first until a more experience bee keeper showed me. February 13, 2013

Bee on heather, 2-14-13, right up the street from Tom and Karen's house.

Bee on heather, 2-14-13, right up the street from Joe and Karen’s house.

Bee on acacia, 2-15-13...Shigeo showed me this place to get some video.  By the time we got to it, the bees were returning to home so I only got a short clip of it.

Bee on acacia, 2-15-13…Shigeo showed me this place to get some video. By the time we got to it, the bees were returning to home so I only got a short clip of it.

Shigeo shows how to transplant an Echium Tree.

Shigeo shows how to transplant an Echium Tree.

Echium for 2013...I'm hoping this plant will shoot up 10 feet (3 m) starting about April or May.

Echium for 2013…I’m hoping this plant will shoot up 10 feet (3 m) starting about April or May. The tarp protects against freezing weather.

These are the plants that Shigeo demonstrated in the video, how to transplant.  They are my hope for 2014

These are the plants that Shigeo demonstrated in the video, how to transplant. They are my hope for 2014

We planted this in late October 2011.  It just stared blankly at us for several months.  April or May we noticed it had grown about 10 feet.  The bees worked it for 3 solid months.

We planted this echium in late October 2011. It just stood still for several months. About April or May we noticed it had grown to about 10 feet. The bees worked it for 3 solid months.

The video shows the bees in action on the flowers.  I used the Canon SX-50 (50x optical zoom) on the laurel as well as the willow catkins.  My little pocket camera, a Sanyo Xacti performed admirably for the rest of the close ups…I love the ‘super macro’ feature.

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This little patch of land is going to be the hugulkulture bed

This little patch of land is going to be the hugel kulture bed

My son started looking at perma culture ideas.  “Hey Dad, I was thinking about building a Hugelkulture bed.  You put in logs that are loaded with mycelium and plant in them.  You don’t ever need to water.”  “That’s interesting,” I said, “but you don’t have any room for something like that.”  “No, but YOU do.”  That’s true and I’m always game for trying out a new idea.  My son has helped me so much.  He installed my solar projects, roofed my house and shop, and repaired a bunch of rotten siding on the house.  Why NOT try this out?  I’ve got lots of rotting logs too.

Pick and shovel work

Pick and shovel work.  I don’t think I’ll go down any deeper because I’ll hit water at this time of year.

This will be a little experiment.  I’d like to plant bee-loving flowers like Nasturtiums, Wall flowers,  and other flowers which the deer won’t eat so I don’t have to fence it in.

The next weekend I was working on a burn pile of  accumulated storm debris.  This had been piled up for a few months.  We wanted to get the place cleaned up for visitors, this weekend it wasn’t raining, so it must be done NOW!  Everything was so wet it, it was going to be an all day affair.  As the fire got built up, I started pulling out branches to burn and starting seeing wonderful mushrooms and examples of mold.  I didn’t want to destroy this beautiful living organism, so I started collecting it for my hugelkulture bed.

White tinged dusty pink mushrooms on log.  It would be a shame to burn it...toss it into the pit.

White tinged dusty pink mushrooms on log. It would be a shame to burn it…toss it into the bed.

Yellowish mold on branch

Yellowish mold on branch…into the bed.

White mold on stick

White mold on stick

Whitish pink mold on branch, toss.

Whitish pink mold on branch, save it for the bed.

This log is saturated, look at the moss growing one it.  Good candidate for the pit.

This log is saturated, look at the moss growing one it. Good candidate for the bed.

I figured the mushrooms and mold grew because it was in contact with the wet branches and bamboos leaves, so I better add them to the mix.

I figured the mushrooms and mold grew because it was in contact with the wet branches and bamboo leaves, so I better add them to the mix.

Double split-pea soup made from scratch from my sweetie, so I could have something to eat while I tended the fire.

Double split-pea soup made from scratch by my sweetie, so we could eat while I tended the fire.

Not as neat and tidy as the Hugelkulture web site, but hey, let's face it, nature is messy.

Not as neat and tidy as the Hugelkulture web site, but hey, let’s face it, nature is messy.

Rotting firewood, mold all over it...into the bed

Rotting firewood, mold all over it…into the bed

Are the drops of sap feeding the mycellium?

Are these drops of sap? Are they feeding the mycellium?  I don’t know, but it’ll be good for the bed.

What it looks like so far

What it looks like so far

Added more rotting logs this end

Added more rotting logs this end

Centipede roaming around in the power wagon...into the bed!

Centipede roaming around in the power wagon…into the bed!

I think it's done..."Honey, you can shovel all the dirt in now..."

I think it’s ready…”Honey, you can shovel all the dirt in now…”

The folks at Shroomery were kind enough to tell me what the ‘mushrooms’ are…”metabolites, fungal pipi, or mycelial piss.”

Hugelkulture Update

More interesting mushrooms…

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As a newbie beekeeper I thought the bees just kept within the hive during the winter, leaving the hive infrequently.  I know things are different on the coast because we rarely get snow, but we get loads of cold winds and driving rains.  So it’s to my surprise that the bees are so active.  They are actually bringing in pollen during January and early February.  I’m hoping the yellow pollen is gorse, because everyone around here hates gorse so much (with good reason…it’s blamed for burning the town down in 1936), I’d like to know gorse is good for something, especially since it usually blooms early February.

I’m concerned about the Warre hive. The top video shows the front of the hive with the bees bringing in yellow and orange pollen and through the observation window in back.   I’d like some advice from more knowledgeable beekeepers about what to do.  I almost nadired another box underneath, had planned for the forecasted hottest part of the day at 55 deg.F (12 deg.C) but then the temperature turned cool.  Should I add another box so they can grow into it before they swarm or should I wait for a few more weeks because the winter weather will return the latter part of February and into March?  Another box means they have to heat it.  I’ve got a dry sugar pad above the box as a just in case food source.

The log hive below looks very strong, lots of activity whenever the sun comes out and the temps are in the 50’s (10 C) bringing in pollen during January and February.  Those bees came from a feral tree hive.  I’m leaving them alone to fend for themselves.  I’m hoping the hive will act as an undisturbed ecosystem…bees adapting to survive mites and other pests.

Hope to have another log hive in place before they swarm.

Hollowing out the log  Carving the log

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