bee update

opened the hive this morning after a few months. Its been so hot, did not want to stress them even more. BUT was concerned as with the heat, there wasn’t much flowering, even with all the wet we’ve had.  Was pleased to see that the hive is strong and healthy and they are accumulating honey stores.  Fortunately, we have at least another month for them to build up honey, and though we often get a hard freeze in October, we then usually again have mild winter through November.  if we have a good winter, the rosemary stays in bloom through most of it, and the manzanita begins to flower February/March. So its not a long winter. 

while I opened from the back and moved forward, the pics are the opposite

comb6backthe back of the 6th comb.  at this point I saw honey and brood, so didn’t go any further forward

comb7frontthe front of the seventh comb, some honey and a little bit of brood

comb7backback of the seventh comb, about half honey, no brood

comb8backthis is the 8th comb.  front and back all open and new.  Unfortunately they had started to cross comb this on – that little tab on the right was attached to the 9th bar.  good thing I opened this now as I was able to fix that.

comb9just cut the comb off the 9th bar and pushed the still soft comb forward so it was aligned with the 8th bar

combcrossthis is how the cross comb looked.

All the active combs were attached to the sides of the hive box and had to be cut to move the comb.  That was one of the reasons I didn’t go further forward.

Left the false back at space 16.  Will move that in October.

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0826161618_resizedfinally finished this sweater!  Used the Beracco Remix yarn again. Didn’t come out exactly as planned, but definitely wearable.  This is my first  totally knitted parts sewn together; sides, top, set in sleeves. So pretty pleased.  No pattern

IMG_0911last year knit a friend a cowl using this yarn, and a month or so ago found a pattern for this quicky headband, so this matching headband will be her present this year.

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slow around the house

Its been wicked hot, although finally getting some cooler weather, and that leads to a lot of changes in the garden.  And that’s a different post

2016gardenharvested some chard for eating and freezing

0823160827a_resizedgot   a  “jerky cannon” and what a difference that makes!  Around here, the dog gets home dried chicken and beef jerky rather than paying for that foreign stuff.  Every week I buy large packages of chicken breast and ground sirloin. What ever is left at the end of the week goes into jerky and we get fresh.

Up until now, have been pounding out the ground beef as flat as I can and cutting into strips.  This makes a lot of difference as the strips are equal thickness and MUCH thinner than anything I was doing by hand. So it dried quicker and more evenly.  Next step is to make jerky for us!

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small batch canning

don’t get why some folks are reluctant to do small batch canning.  Yes it makes as much of a mess as big batch, and it takes up just as much space. but why deprive yourself of something special?  Using a saucepan rather than a big stock pot (or slow cooker), using a smaller, ie narrower, pot for the canning, its easy enough and quick enough to can a couple of 1/2 pint jars at a time.

IMG_0908 (1024x673)Yesterday both blackberries and rasberries were on sale, so bought enough to do four 1/2 pint jars of each.

In this case, two saucepans and one canner for 8 jars.  These will be part of my winter breakfasts.  mmm mmm good!

Posted in canning, fruit, homesteading, organic, prepping, preserving, recipes, self-reliance, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

todays buzz


IMG_0907 (768x1024) This is the supplemental pollen substitute feeder I’ve rigged up. there is a little of the pollen sub in the container, an opening on the side, and a little honey smeared on inside of the top.  figure this will keep out any rain.  its sitting in water to stop the ants from finding it.  Am not looking to really push the hive, but want to make sure they have enough brood, and enough food, to get through the winter.

Today is a dreary rainy day and a perfect day for opening the hive. unfortunately, its also a busy day and there is no working with the bees in a rush, so hopefully, there will be another chance soon.


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summer update

It has just been HOT, HOTTER, and HOTTEST.  While we might not have broken any single temp records, we have NEVER had to have our air conditioning on 24/7 for more than 3 days in a row before. It has been on constantly since early June.  Last month’s electric bill was nearly $400!!  We’ve had some relief in the humidity which means we’re cooling off a bit more at night, finally getting down into the upper 60’s / low 70’s F

This has perked up the garden some.  The organic heirloom seeds I’d saved from tomato purchases last year seem to be doing okay and even bearing fruit – which seems to be unusual this season.  Of course, the originals of those tomatoes came from southern AZ, so guess heat was in their genes.  My yellow plum tomatoes, usually a stalwart of the garden haven’t even produced flowers.  My heirloom romas in the greenhouse have given me some nice fruit, but the regular romas in the garden are giving me miserable teensy fruit. Today was the first, and possibly the last, full try of tomatoes I had for roasting.  Last year had quarts!  This year will be lucky if I get A quart.  Although the heirloom romas in the garden are starting to do okay

Only one of my spaghetti squash plants was successful.  See one single VERY large fruit there, and a few others have tried, but one plant can only do so much. 

Green beans are coming in well, and the second batch of cocozelle zucchini is also. Have already pulled the first plants.  Peppers doing very well, so is the rhubarb.  Eggplants seem to have set some fruit. The miniature watermelon I bought hasn’t put out flowers yet either, and the other melon plant I bought hasn’t gotten very far as something keeps eating it.

Potatoes have been up and down.  They grow, the greens die and disappear, then they come up again.  One of the bags was empty for so long, put in a sweet potato.  Then that disappeared.  Then both came up, now the regular potato has disappeared again.  a mix of critters eating the greens and just too much heat.

None of the carrot seed I planted have come up, but the dill is going crazy!!

and had a volunteer hollyhock in the main garden this year, which was great!

got some strawberries going in containers on the west side of the house, but birds or critters are getting them before I do!

Mulch has made a big difference, water less often, although probably just as much.  A good soaking every two or three days instead of every day.

Bees seem to be getting along. Its way too hot to open the hive. They will see it as a threat and the new comb will be extremely soft!  We had a local forest fire which filled the area with heavy smoke one day, but they seem to have shrugged that off.  Still, am concerned for their winter store level as with the heat and season, the pollen sources are shutting down.  my honeysuckle has stopped blooming and so has the yarrow.  Only the blanket flower and some Echinacea remain.  Not much else up and down the neighborhood.  So today have started putting out some pollen substitute.

There are actually a number of different recipes out there, am doing a very basic, by volume, 3:3:1 mix of Soy flour: Sugar: nutritional yeast. Putting it out dry in a dish in the garden and using a  little lemon grass essential oil to sent the bowl to attract them.  Am not trying to give them too much to raise brood, just a supplement to what ever they are bringing in to make sure they will make it through the cold season when it comes.  There is still water in their bowl by the hive as well as keeping both water sources going here at the house.

Emptied the 1000 gallon tank once and am well on the way to emptying it again.  The 650 tank is doing okay, but that’s all because the gutter guys didn’t listen to what we wanted and canted 2/3 of the gutter to the smaller tank instead of vice versa!  The big new tank has been filled and nearly emptied twice this season.  Its amazing to watch how much water flows into that thing!

the 350 gallon is holding on doing what needs to be done in that area.  but in a dry year, it wouldn’t be nearly enough to water those trees and everything.

and that’s pretty much the story of the garden.  not as much to harvest, not as much to do.

Posted in bees, carrots, container gardening, gardening, greens, grow bags, homesteading, legumes, organic, peppers, potatoes, prepping, preserving, self-reliance, squash, tomatoes, top bar hive, Uncategorized, water | Leave a comment

bee update

forest fire not far away and wanted to see how the bees were doing.  still too hot to open the hive, all that new comb is soft enough, even softer in the heat, and with the fire and the lack of pollen availability, don’t want to threaten them

IMG_0905right after I took this picture, a lot of bees few into the hive.  not much pollen to be seen, and even my own flower garden is light right now. made worse by the damage done during a hail storm a couple of days ago.  had to really cut back on my blanket flower and bee balm particularly and the  honeysuckle is doing little.  except for a couple of squash blossoms (and I mean a couple), its pretty scare for the bees

IMG_0906but the hive looks healthy and is continuing to build comb, though slowly

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