Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Is it fall already?

The new beekeeper, or should I say "newbie keeper", has so many experiences the first year of the hive's operation. From the thrill of installing the bees, to the glee of the first harvest, to the fear of the oncoming cold and closing up the hive for the winter. We've been quite lucky with the weather so far with warm temperatures, so I delayed truly closing up the hive until today. I have been feeding the girlz; first with medicated sugar syrup to ward off nosema, a kind of disentery, but in bees, and then with something called Honey-B-Healthy, which promotes a healthy immune system. I've also made "grease patties" including crisco, LOTS of sugar, honey, trace mineral salts and wintergreen oil to prevent tracheal mites which can devastate a hive. I've wrapped the hive in tar paper to maximize heat absorption and retention, and loaded the top of the inner cover with sugar should they need extra stores during the cold months. There's adequate ventilation so that moisture will not accumulate, and so now it's up to them. For those who have had the pleasure of their honey, my girlz do a great job and I feel quite protective of them.
The garden continues to bear tomatoes, just some cherries at this point, but I've planted fall greens of bok choi, kale, chinese cabbage, spinach and lettuce. This is all done in a cold frame setup and should take us through the spring with fresh greens. This past week we've had a visit from a large praying mantis which seems to enjoy sunning itself on the east wall in the back. They are very good for gardens and I consider them good luck. Now, if only the cat would stop thinking of it as a toy!