Sunday, September 29, 2013

You don't need too dig deep

Yeah! Here we are Fall, Autumn, Harvest season!
Here are a few sample pics of some harvesting that's going on here in Boulder.

Adirondack Blue Potatoes, hard to spell good to eat! I Got these from Walmart, 5 plants for $3.98 . The ground is soaking wet (clay soil) the picture has probably 2 plants worth of potatoes. About $1.60 if my math is correct.

Cucumbers and beets, Yum!
These cukes are a little small but I've let many of them go too long so I'm being cautious and picking early.
Next year I need to stage my planting over a couple of weeks verses planting all the cucumbers at once.
If you look close at the beet greens you can make out a stringy weed. That's bind weed. It has taken over in the garden with all the rain we've gotten lately (yes I'm blaming the rain).

Above is an August planting of Burpee's Cherry Belle Radish

This is actually 3 squash plants taking over

The Cocozelle Squash continues to produce reliably. We are trying to cook them into everything from stir fry to zucchini bread. We still have enough to hand some over the fence to our gardening friends.
 The rain and the hay fork have done wonders in the past few weeks to the compost pile.
 The asparagus bed is not taking off like I hoped but I realize this can take some years. I continue to add compost and weed on a semi regular basis. It is luckily located closest to the compost pile.

Above is the rhubarb raised bed. It is doing wonderful!

The honeybees are still working the borage. The borage falls down but continues to grow and bloom until it freezes. Its been blooming for several months now.
I've heard that borage flowers refill their nectaries within minutes, which is why the honeybees love it. However below is a close up of this girl with what looks to be borage pollen.

Does anyone know if borage produces pollen?
 Another winner is the Blue Hyssop from Baker Heirloom it has bloomed continuously for months. This is a perennial here in zone 5, it is in its second year.  The flowers are fewer and fewer in the season as the seeds develop. I'll spread these seeds to other areas of the garden to get more of this for the bees.

Saturday, September 21, 2013


Well this past week I've seen several drones dead in front of the hives and figured it was the girls kicking out the boys due to the end of the season, see Kicked to the Curb post.
Today I sat out next to the hives and watched what was going on and heard, and saw, many (dozens) drones flying in and out of the hives. Drones are somewhat larger than worker bees and make a louder sound when flying. The workers were bringing in lots of yellow and orange pollen. This indicates that they are still raising young.
The drones were still flying in and out indicating they are still looking for virgin queens to mate with. Kind of late in the season but I imagine this has to do with the fact that queens can die any any point in the season and if a hive need to requeen itself to survive this can happen at any time of the season.

Drones (2) notice the big eyes

MF Western Yellow Jackets

Why do we hate yellow jackets?

Here are my two middle fingers, sorry no disrespect intended. On the right my finger tip is clearly inflamed. This is because of a western yellow jacket bit /sting. I was waving my hands shooing them out of my way when ka-bam right in the tip of my right middle finger. We have a scotch pine in our front yard which has been afflicted by pine scale for at least the 4 years that we have lived in this house. The scale exudes honey dew which attracts the western yellow jackets and other insects. As a beekeeper and gardener, I have a high tolerance for insects, but the western yellow jacket... lets just say its not a love hate relationship.
I have two yellow jacket traps which I bait with pheromone bait. And believe me I have them baited early in the year to attract as many queens as possible. I even sit next to the bee hives with a fly swatter playing "whack a wasp" as they seem to troll for hive debris, dead bees, in front of the hives. I've even seen them sneak into the hive past the guard bees.
Once you smash one wasp it seems to attract another, see below.
All beekeepers know they are bad news in hives, as they rob honey and whatever else they can.
Today's total: Yellow jacket stings =1 ; splatted yellow jackets = 12
I'm still not happy with those numbers

dead yellow jackets

Friday, September 20, 2013

Boys kicked to the curb

Three weeks ago it was in the 90's. Last week a record 17 inches of rain. Last night it dipped into the 50's, you know what that means. The boys are kicked to the curb.

You can identify the drone, he's top left with the enormous eyes. The workers realize its getting cold signaling the end of the season. This means no more swarms and without the need to breed queens, all drones can be kicked out.
Drones can feed themselves and must rely on the worker bees (females) to feed them. To a bee hive they are an expense and come winter an expense that can be eliminated.

A quick look at the ground in front of the hive shows several dead drones evicted some time earlier.

I mentioned the rain it splashed lots of dirt up onto the hives. The bottom of my hives are open with 1/8 inch screen. I closed them up for the winter, actually fall starts in 2 days. But I also put down some weed barrier to cover the ground which is a rock covered soil. Here is a picture of the "dirt barrier"

The dirt on the gray barrier is the dirt that washed off the hives in the past week, it rained more.

Here is are pictures of Boulder Creek (at hwy 287) flood well out of its banks.