Friday, July 24, 2015

Garden Flowers

Cosmos Flowers

New flowers seem to be blooming all over the yard and garden. Above are some cosmos. I planted a few, and at least three plants are very healthy and blooming.


The milkweed is just beginning to bloom. This Monarch was nice enough to pose for a photo.


I’m letting some of the Arugula go to seed, so I have some seeds for later. They are blooming as well.


I have a shady spot right by my front door, so I planted some perennial dead nettles. They have tiny little pink flowers. They are establishing themselves nicely in their full shade spot.

Bee Suit Hive Inspection

Milkweed blooming. I have been trying to keep them weed free and mulched slightly to encourage them to take over the area. I am hoping I can get this area as a milkweed nursery, so I can plant more around the yard in the future.

Cilantro Flowers

Some volunteer cilantro is already going to seed. The plants are pretty small, so I won’t be collecting the seeds. I plant to put a new raised bed over the top of this area. The bees and other insects are enjoying the blooms in the meantime.


Laura captured some of these photos with my camera, and I edited them. I think they turned out pretty great.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Insects in the Garden


With the large diversity of plants and flowers in the garden there is a great selection of insects. I don’t know what they are all called. Here is a yellow wasp hanging out on a kale leaf.


An iridescent green fly.


Little white moth with brown spots.

Bees on Hive

Of course my honeybees in their top bar hive.


Tiny grasshopper on arugula flowers.


Black wasp enjoying the milkweed.


Monarch butterfly also enjoying the milkweed.


A little red bug.


The monarch again.


There have been a few others, but they aren’t so nice to sit and pose like the above. There are a couple other butterflies and beetles running around. We will keep trying to make photos of them.

Laura captured these photos with my camera, and I edited them. I think they turned out pretty great.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mid Year Bee Hive Inspection

Bees on Hive

I’ve had my new batch of bees since the beginning of May. Time to check on how they are doing inside the hive. I watch them from the outside regularly, so I know they are busy bees (ugh bad pun).

Bee Hive

I have a top bar hive I built last year in my backyard. It sits in a sunny spot since the bees like the sun. It is surrounded by milkweeds on one side, a garden bed on the other, and a fence on the remaining sides.

Bee Suit Hive Inspection

The first step was to remove some of the weeds from the back side, and then take off the cover. I like working on the hive from the side opposite the entrance. This way, I am not in the way of the bees coming and going which I hope places less stress on them. Inside the cover, I found a small wasp’s nest starting. I removed it. The bees don’t need any competition so close to home.

Honeybee Hive Inspection

Next, I carefully remove each bar one at a time and look at it. I use a sharp bread knife as my only tool. It comes in handy to unstick stuck bars and to cut the bridge comb. Bridge comb is some extra support bees sometimes add to the honeycomb by attaching it to the walls of the hive rather than to just the top bars.

Bee Suit Hive Inspection

I don’t usually use a smoker. I have one, but only used it once last year, and not at all this year. I have so far found, the top bar setup keeps the bees less stressed since I am only removing a small part of the hive, one bar at a time. The whole hive isn’t completely open, so they can keep working, hopefully feel safer, and less stressed.

Honeybee Hive Inspection

An example of a fully loaded bar. The bees drew the honeycomb as they wished and then filled it as they needed. Looks like mostly capped honey: the white stuff near the top is capped honey for long term storage.

Bee Suit Hive Inspection

Since the honeycomb is supported only on the top, it is important to keep the bar horizontal and the comb vertical to avoid any unnecessary breakage. It was warm out, so the comb was extra soft!

Honeybee Hive Inspection

Another fully loaded comb.

Bee Suit Hive Inspection

I worked slowly and carefully looking at each bar for obvious signs of trouble like mites or disease. Basically stuff that doesn’t look right or a bar that doesn’t match the rest.

Honeybee Hive Inspection

These bees started with the old honeycomb from last year’s failed hive which gave them a jump start on the season. They had ten empty bars of honeycomb to start, and have filled those and made another 10+ which were also filled.

Bee Suit Hive Inspection

They have definitely been very busy. They seem much healthier and more productive than last years bees. I don’t plan on taking any of their honey; especially since my last hive starved to death over the winter. The honey is the bee’s food to get through tough times like winter or drought. I will check on them again soon. I am excited they seem to be doing well.


Thanks to Laura for taking the distant action shots.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Jostaberry, Cherries, and Currants

Josta Berry

I was so excited to see my Jostaberry bush finally producing earlier this Spring. There was ONE berry on it. I have been watching it for what feels like months hoping it would ripen and I would get to taste my first jostaberry. I hoped the birds, squirrels, and rabbits would leave it alone. The bush had a tough Spring as the rabbits decided the leaves tasted good. It persevered.I finally got my berry. It was good. It tasted like a tart/sweet berry. Almost like a cherry meets a raspberry? I look forward to eating more next year! 

Northstar Cherries and Currants

We harvested the last bowl of northstar cherries from the tree. They are so good. Nice and tart. I am amazed and grateful to get so many cherries from a tree I planted less than one year ago.

We also picked the rest of the black and red currants. If you look carefully, they are hiding under the cherries in the picture. My friend liked the black currants best. After eating more, I think I like the red ones more. I think more samples will be needed to form a more complete opinion!