Friday, October 19, 2012

Honeybee Update..

The girls are still alive and kicking I am very happy to report and while some would say I’m nuts their disposition is back to a calm buzz.  We inspected the hive thoroughly and there is uncapped and capped honey and some brood and some pollen!  I ordered Honey Bee Healthy to add to the sugar it’s like a multivitamin for honeybees that is supposed to help encourage them to eat.  I also ordered some winter patties for them, so that when it get’s colder I can continue to feed. IMG_5107
They are still busily bringing in pollen and since I couldn’t stop them from eating from the humming bird feeder we made a hanging honeybee feeder from an inverted jar, a wooden frame and a piece of screen.  They seem quite happy with that and I’m happy because I don’t have to worry about a honeybee getting caught in the hole!
I’m cautiously hopeful about them surviving, I know it’s a long shot, but I’m hoping that if I keep feeding and we insulate it really well this winter that they will survive and thrive next year. 
We are still going to build two hybrid hives this winter, I know what I want, it’s a Langstroth that is on it’s side instead of upright, that is raised on legs like a top bar and frames that have three sides instead of one or four. I want to be able to use standard Langstroth equipment but have the ease of top bar use.  I like having the ability to put a super on if I were to ever want to collect honey and I like the idea of having a screened bottom board too.  I’m excited to get into the workshop with Randy and design and build these and I’m excited for all the future honeybee adventures!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cinnamon…it’s not just for toast!

File this tip under things that are useful to know…Ants hate cinnamon.  I don’t know any scientific reason that they dislike it, I don’t know if it’s in the oil, if it’s in the scent, I just know that they hate it and if you want a natural and great smelling way (unless you hate cinnamon) to get rid of ants cinnamon is your friend. 
Now here is how I KNOW it works, I have had an ant problem around my beehive since the honeybees moved in, carpenter ants, sweet ants both constantly marching up the legs and into the hive.  We moated the legs but I don’t like drowning innocent insects (honeybees included) and I don’t think leaving the legs even though they are cedar sitting in the water is a good idea.  I don’t use poisons and while I considered using DE (food grade diatomaceous earth) because it would take care of the ants as well as small hive beetle larva. I was concerned about it killing other insects as it’s indiscriminant.  So I did some reading and cinnamon was suggested and well I have that and some cinnamon essential oil as well so off I went.  I dusted the legs and a little inside the hive end where the colony isn’t first and then I sprinkled some on the ground around the legs.  I used a q-tip and oil to coat the places where the hive is joined together.  When I left there were sweet ants all over the place and they were scrambling in every direction..I thought hmm it might work.  When I checked a few hours later, there was not an ant to be seen, anywhere!  None on the hive, none near the hive, none anywhere on the ground.  Next time I go to Sam’s club I’m buying an economy size container! It’s natural and it smells good and neither I nor the honeybees mind it

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Pond

I realized that I never shared any pictures of the improved pond, stream and bog filter! 
IMG_5125 This is the bog filter and as you can see the plants did indeed grow despite the deer eating them.  Oh, I spy a flower pot that needs to come out of there!
IMG_5137 Another view of the bog filter.
IMG_5124 So here’s the pond wall that we had built, it runs all the way around the lower end, we are very happy with how it turned out.  I’ve planted a little in the areas, I’m going to load it up with the Spring bulbs that I just picked up this week.  The black teepee thing is our leaf net, it’s a life saver!
IMG_5126 The wall on the front side.
stream
Here’s the new stream, I started planting around it but like all around the pond…more landscaping needs to be done.  Always a work in progress.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spring Planning….

No seriously, we are already planning our spring projects and are they ever big ones!  Part of the plans will actually start this winter, we’ve got to have some honking big trees taken down for various reasons.
IMG_5139 This maple by the pond I love, I mean it I love this tree and I’ve been waffling on it’s removal for months.  The heavy snow a couple of years ago ripped the top out and it’s got some bad spots in it.  The thing is, it provides SO much shade for the pond which in turn helps with algae but on the flip side it does drop leaves over and around the pond…
IMG_5117 That massive poplar with the “V” in it, well it’s got a gaping hole in the trunk and has the potential to do serious damage to the house should it fall.  Yes, that tree is THAT big!
IMG_5118 That beech tree in the background, well it’s another tree that I love, it is just stunning when it changes colors in the fall and the shape is just so perfect.  It however shades so much of the back yard and the bee yard.
Which is where some honking BIG changes are going to take place.
IMG_5119
This area along the front is going to become a heavily planted flower border, which with the removal of the beech will get a lot more sun.  We are going to add soil and leaf grow to the area and move plants from all over to fill this in and of course all will be pollinator friendly.  There may be a few smaller trees in this area that we take down or maybe just have some of the canopy thinned.  Our tree guy is fantastic! Oak Hill Wood Services
Behind this flower border is where the bee yard is going to be and that is going to require some work. Randy is not happy with the area he leveled and since we are going to be building two hives this winter he wants to improve up the leveling and he wants to put something down that will make it easier to maintain apparently he didn’t enjoy pulling weeds. 
IMG_5120  So from the Crepe Myrtle here in the corner to the other side will be flowers, everything behind will either be clover (which is what I want) or something else. 
A garden is always changing…

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Deer Ate It!

Fall is fast approaching the deer have done so much damage to the gardens that it’s downright funny, I mean it’s sad but it’s funny looking!
I took a walk around the yard and here’s what I saw…
IMG_5138 Hosta that no longer really resemble hosta..
IMG_5116 Hydrangea that have been eaten into submission.
IMG_5115     Miniature roses blooming away.
IMG_5114  My Mountain Sunflower blooming.
IMG_5112 Woodland poppies that are now sticks.

Welcome to Deer Valley lol…there’s always next year….

Compost is going to happen!

I have had bins, I have had big round compost heaps and they have all had the same frustrating outcome…no compost.  I admit it, I want to du...