Archive for the ‘Growing flowers for bees’ Category

…and the bees love it too.

4106-mostly-turnips-as-cover-crop-10-6-16

Want to grow spinach? We have been wildly unsuccessful in growing it, but guess what…steamed turnip greens taste just like spinach. It turns out they are very easy to grow and are good for you too. This was supposed to be a mixture of several cover crop seeds, Fava beans, Winter Rye, and Hairy Vetch included. It looks like the turnips took over. Uh, I might have broadcast them a little thick. My “solar-roller water pump panel” is positioned for the afternoon sun. Gotta keep the flow going. 🙂

honeybee-on-turnip-blossom-jan-16-2014

Turnip flowers in January provide nourishment for bees in the critical winter months.

4108-turnips-planted-a-month-ago-10-6-16

October 8…This bed was planted August 1. Turnips grow fast. Plant them thick, then you can harvest the thinnings by steaming the greens.  Leave a few to go to flowers in winter.

4110-short-bed-of-turnips-10-6-16

We’ve been getting three crops a year in our raised beds. This was lettuce last winter, then kale, now turnips. In between we bury crab shell when we can get it. This being October, that resource will soon be gone.

4120-one-of-5-turnips-used-for-turnip-soup-10-10-16

Oct. 10…My sweetheart made a delicious turnip soup for dinner this evening. These turnips were planted in early August. They grow fast!!!

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Oct. 8…just in case we haven’t planted enough turnips, here is another bed started…complete with drip water grid.

4132a-turnips-growing-well-rain-cloth-10-15-16-smlr

Oct. 15…Turnips are up already. The shade cloth is to protect the little darlings from the hurricane force winds and 12-18 inches (300-450mm) of rain that was forecast…didn’t happen, at least, not yet.

Turnip soup recipe

Chop an onion, saute in olive oil, add 4 to 5 cups of peeled chopped turnips, two garlic cloves (peeled and cut in half), add two teaspoons of smoked paprika, and teaspoon of thyme  leaves.  Cook until lightly brown, add three cups of vegetable or chicken broth, salt to taste.  Bring to boil and simmer until veggies are cooked.  Blend in blender, return to pan, add a cup of milk, or milk alternative.

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3146 Entrance into Sue's secret garden, 5-18-16

May 18…This is the entrance. Just today Sue was able to get the path covered with wood shavings. She says, “I feel like this is a secret garden. I can’t wait to show the grand kids.”

3142 Pat's block work, 5-18-16

The project involved some block work by you know who. (Note to self…never make suggestions to someone about block work unless you’re prepared to do it yourself.)

3129 Sue's (semi) Secret Garden, 5-18-16

Sue has added the planters with lobelia, snap dragons from seed, and Clary Sage Salvia (also from seeds this year), hoping to attract some bees. The squash barrels contain butternut, Red Hubbard, and Sugar Pie pumpkin starts. Between the planters and the squash is the Witch Hazel which we bought a couple of years ago, but it didn’t  do well in the clay pot we chose for it. We hope it comes back and blooms in winter. It’s next to an Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium).

3159 Sue in new garden room, 5-19-16.JPG++++

I asked Sue to sit down for a moment so I could take a photo.

3144 Hugelbed, cosmos, marigolds, phacelia, 5-18-16

The hugelkulture bed is technically in the new garden too. It’s getting planted with cosmos, marigolds, phacellia, California poppies, and more marigolds.

3145 Looking over hugel bed, 5-18-16

This is the other end of the hugelkulture bed, looking back towards the tall echium.

Some other garden scenes…

3196 Potatoes growing well, 5-22-16

May 22…Potatoes growing well.

3121 Turnip blossoms, mulched lettuce, 5-18-16

May 18…..My wife says it was a mistake to mulch the lettuce. It takes quite a bit of time to remove the straw when you want to eat it. In the background you can see the turnip flowers heavy with growth. This is our turnip seed source. The bees are still working it for now. For the record, these turnips, which were planted directly over crab shells last year, grew all winter.

3195 Pole beans planted, 5-22-16

Because of the new deer fence, I can plant pole beans for the first time in about 25 years. It’ll be fun watching the vine crawl up the bamboo poles.

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2223 GKLH, 12-19-15

December 19, 2015…The Grand Kids Log Hive is going strong, I’m happy to say. I know the anchors are probably not necessary, but I can hear the heavy gusts of wind hitting at night and I got tired of imagining the tall hive tipping over. Now I can sleep better.:)

2284 GKLH Temp at 46F, 12-30-15

December 30, 2015…The temperature inside the hive is a chilly 46˙F (7˙C), and yet the bees were flying this cold day.

2279 GKLH, bees flying in, close, 12-30-15.JPG++

12-30-15…The bees broke ranks for a short time in the afternoon. I was relieved to see them after viewing the cold temp on the probe thermometer in back. When they’re in a cluster, you can’t see them in the viewing window.

12 Bee Beard, 12-18-15

December 18, 2015…Bee Beard Log Hive might be feeling his age, but the bees still like it as can be seen in the video.

2239 Warre plastic film protected, 12-25-15 copy

12-19-15…my only Warré, having lost the other two during the summer. After seeing too much moisture on the bottom board, I removed it and tacked some black plastic film on three sides. We’ve been having record rainfall in December and it’s possible rain was entering on the observation window sides. I hope this helps.

2138 Birdhouse bees, frost, 11-26-15

November 26…All is quiet. The birdhouse bees didn’t make it. I was hopeful this year because they came through the three month winter shadow last winter, but I must have lost them between October and late November.

10 Birdhouse bees, no bees, 12-18-15

December 18…I shot another photo when the weather warmed back up. Doesn’t look like anything is moving in there.

8 Birdhouse bees, empty comb, no bees, 12-18-15

Empty comb at the front. I guess I can hope they are clustered somewhere back in there, but that’s just a sliver of hope.

2228 Green tree hive, insulation, 12-19-15

The green tree hive is entering it’s third winter. If numbers mean anything, this hive is a survivor. With the sun so low these days the light can reach through the branches to get the bees flying relatively early. Often its the only hive flying. I’m always happy to see the bees flying especially after a ‘rocking’ big storm. This hive is totally intervention free. No mite strips, pollen paddies, or sugar water, it just keeps on going. It’s slightly above my height when I’m looking at it, so occasionally an incoming bee will alight on my ear. “Ooops, sorry I’m in your flight pattern.”

2 Pussy willow tree, 1-1-16

January 1, 2016…The pussy willow tree is getting ready to bloom.

5 Pussy willow buds swelling, 1-1-16

1-1-16…Willow buds are swelling

1 Buds swelling on willow, 1-1-16

More willow buds. “Hang on, little critters, It won’t be long before pollen is available.”

So I’m back to four hives.  I’m a little worried about the Warré hive, because of all the moisture inside.  I’m hoping the sheet of black plastic I tacked on three sides will cut the wind and moisture back.  In the video you can see bees tossing out dead bees.  I always think of that Doors song with Jim Morrison chanting, “Bring out your dead,” over and over again.

I’m a treatment-free beekeeper for better or worse.  I can’t bring myself to believe that killing the varroa mites will solve any problems.  I’m of the opinion that we will NEVER rid the bees of varroa mites.  The bees MUST adapt, because eventually the mites will develop a resistance to the poison and then what do you do?  I say let the bees adapt.  Let the weak hives go.

I’m not feeding the bees anything either.  I saw bees bringing in pollen into my Warré hive in December.  It could be ivy or even gorse.  If they can hang on just a bit longer, they will get pollen from the pussy willow blossoms.    Jonathan Powell of the Natural Beekeeping Trust, also explains the risks of sugar very well at about 3 minutes into this you-tube video.  “Studies have shown that sugar destroys the bees internal intestines and also it destroys a very particular enzyme call the P450 enzyme which the bees use to counteract some of the pesticides and toxins they find in the environment.  So by feeding sugar, we may be averting a starvation if you’ve taken too much honey, but we are also damaging the bees.”  And here’s another article about  feeding anything can be detrimental to the hive. (including honey)

The video.. 

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Growing turnips for the bees and for us

June 22...I mowed half the mustard flowers down and spaded them into the soil. Those lengths of white pvc were supposed to hold the deer netting over the clover, but the clover experienced a freeze at a delicate stage and died out. All this mustard is volunteer courtesy of our compost bin. Clearly, it doesn't get hot enough to kill the seeds.

June 22…I mowed half the mustard flowers down and spaded them into the soil. Those lengths of white pvc were supposed to hold the deer netting over the clover, but the clover experienced a freeze at a delicate stage and died out. All this mustard is volunteer courtesy of our compost bin. Clearly, it doesn’t get hot enough in the bin to kill the seeds.

Two years ago we planted turnip seeds in July and had the happy surprise of turnip flowers in January.  The bees appreciated having a nectar/pollen source in the middle of winter.

Last year we tried growing turnips for the bees again, but for some unknown reason, most of them didn’t germinate…only a few in the middle row.  We were looking for a place to bury crab shell and dug it in on both sides of the few turnips.  They must have liked it because they grew HUGE.  Since there were so few and since my wife makes a delicious turnip soup, those turnips never got to go to seed.

This year we’d like to try it again…with lots of crab shell, and lots of turnips.  This is our attempt to ‘grow for the bees.’

I had to get the trench dug and bury the crab shell before work. Crab shell doesn't keep very long before getting really rank. It's in the bin in the wheelbarrow. A tire is weighing down the lid to keep the raccoons out of it. You don't want raccoons to make a mess of things. Uh, they will if it's not protected.

I had to get the trench dug and bury the crab shell before work. Crab shell doesn’t keep very long before getting really rank. It’s in the bin in the wheelbarrow. A tire is weighing down the lid to keep the raccoons out of it. You don’t want raccoons to make a mess of things. Uh, they will if it’s not protected.

A bucket of kitchen garbage...

A bucket of kitchen garbage…

...and a bin of crab shell...

…and a bin of crab shell…

...go into the trench.

…go into the trench.

This is what crab shell looks like after being buried for 8 months.

This is what crab shell looks like after being buried for 8 months.

July 9...The drip water grid is in place. We're ready to plant.

July 9…The drip water grid is in place. We’re ready to plant.

July 10...Turnip seeds planted and covered with vermiculite.

July 10…Turnip seeds planted and covered with vermiculite.

Deer net hoops set up.

Deer net hoops set up.

July 17...It looks like ALL the turnip seeds germinated this year.

July 17…It looks like ALL the turnip seeds germinated this year.

We better use some fabric to protect them from the wire worm.

We better use some fabric to protect them from the wire worm.

August 1...Hmmm. I think I planted these too close. I better thin them out.

August 1…Hmmm. I think I planted these too close. I better thin them out.

We'll be eating turnip greens for a few days.

We’ll be eating turnip greens for a few days.

I'm going to try some crab water mixed 1:5 parts water to see what happens.

I’m going to try some crab water mixed 1:5 parts water to see what happens.

August 1...I'm watering just the outboard rows of turnips with the crab water just to see if crab water encourages them to stronger.

August 1…I’m watering just the outboard rows of turnips with the crab water just to see if crab water encourages them to grow stronger.

This yearling deer is waiting for me to leave 'her' garden.

This yearling deer is waiting for me to leave ‘her’ garden.

Aug. 9...If a little crab shell is good, does that mean a lot is even better? Let's add some more on this side.

Aug. 9…If a little crab shell is good, does that mean a lot is even better? Let’s add some more on this side.

I better protect it from the raccoons. I don't want them tearing up the seedlings to get at the crab shell. If you're wondering where I got all the tires, I used to plant 60 tomato plants...inside the tires for warmth. I poked, cut, and drilled holes in each one to drain rain water out. Now a days, I'm not planting that many tomatoes, but it's costly to get rid of the tires...anyone want some free tires?

I better protect it from the raccoons. I don’t want them tearing up the seedlings to get at the crab shell. If you’re wondering where I got all the tires, I used to plant 60 tomato plants…inside the tires for warmth. I poked, cut, and drilled holes in each one to drain rain water out. Now a days, I’m not planting that many tomatoes, but it’s costly to get rid of the tires…anyone want some free tires?

August 23...Turnips are exploding with growth. Just in time because this part of the garden is starting to lose the sun.

August 23…Turnips are exploding with growth. Just in time because this part of the garden is starting to lose the sun.

August 23...Making Purple Top White Globe Turnips.

August 23…Making Purple Top White Globe Turnips.

August 29...Freshly picked turnip 'thinnings.'

August 29…Freshly picked turnip ‘thinnings.’

No bug holes, which is the reason why we use a 'pest protection' floating row cover.

No bug holes, which is the reason why we use a ‘pest protection’ floating row cover.

August 29...Turnip soup made from scratch by my Sweetie. :)

August 29…Turnip soup made from scratch by my Sweetie. 🙂

September 2...More turnip thinnings result in a Turnip Frittata.  Soooo very delicious!!! After reading about the health benefits of turnips, I planted more this evening.  If they flower in January or February, the bees will benefit as well.

September 2…More turnip thinnings result in a Turnip Frittata. Soooo very delicious!!!
After reading about the health benefits of turnips, I planted more this evening. If they flower in January or February, the bees will benefit as well.

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