Birds, Bees and Wendell Berry

Spring 2017Wendell Berry is the poet of farmer and nature dweller alike. He is my favorite writer, poet, fiction, nonfiction, and I’m excited to say he liked my tweet. For World Poetry Day, I linked to the Mad Farmer Liberation Front:

Spring 2017We are in spring mode: Bob has been tending seedlings for months and they are now filling the high tunnel. Kale, carrots, radishes and an unidentified probably Asian green that was supposed to be butter crunch. It is much more like Romaine, long spiky leaves growing from a center but without any head forming.

I have four ginger plants sprouting in the greenhouse in the back bedroom  and am just trying to be patient for the others. There is a spot ready for them in the high tunnel. The turmeric showed no sign of real life so I just put all the pieces in pots on the sun porch. We shall see…maybe getting into dirt will encourage them to sprout and root.

I decided, even after last summer’s failure, to go ahead and increase the apiary. I bought two nucs–boxes of bees with a queen, brood and some honey–from a store about two hours away and picked them up on Friday. I took the pickup, thinking they could ride in the back but the owner insisted they be up front with the air conditioning running full blast. With so many bees in such small space, they generate a lot of heat. We had a careful drive home and they aSpring 2017re now hived.

My goal today was to get the feeders off my old hives and installed with a light syrup mix on the new hives. I knew the old hives seemed to be doing well but hadn’t done a check yet. I am happy to report they are doing well. So well, in fact, that I decided to put boxes on them and do the feeders another day. Both hives had begun building up into the feeders so I scraped the comb and left the feeders for them to clean. I added a medium to the single deep hive that I saved last year. I had some old comb from the freezer, three frames from the strong hive, and five newish frames. I’ll keep an eye to make sure they start filling it up but I’m not too worried as they seemed ready.

The stronger hive has a deep and a medium. I checked the medium and saw new brood and lots of honey. Didn’t manage to get to the bottom box but will check it next time. For now, I added a queen excluder and a honey super with some drawn comb and some new frames. They also seemed eager to start building. The bees seemed pretty mellow. I had the smoker but they didn’t seem all that aggressive. I was able to walk away without being chased.

I am pleased with both hives and am hopeful for the new ones. They are active as they get settled in their new homes.

Spring 2017A few other pictures…the resident fox who has little concern for the dogs that are barking at him like mad. I worked in the hay barn one afternoon this spring, prepping the bee hardware. I kept an eye out for him as he hangs out in the hay but I didn’t see him this day. As I came down out of the barn at one point, I realized he was snoozing in the sun on a cart we have in the barnyard. It’s loaded with brush for the next bonfire and he was tucked in the branches on the edge, one eye slightly open and keeping an eye on me.

Spring 2017I am kind of excited about my orchids! I have been pampering them for a year now: summer in the dappled sunlight of the upper porch and then winter in a greenhouse in the bedroom upstairs. Warm and humid, just the way they like it. I was rewarded with blooms on two of the plants. I brought them downstairs for some late winter color. Soon, it’s time for them to head back to the porch.

We have had two red bellied woodpeckers at our feeder this year. They like the long tube where they can rest their tails.Spring 2017



4 Responses to Birds, Bees and Wendell Berry

  1. Avatar Nancy Marshall
    Nancy Marshall says:

    Nice to read all the spring news from Bottle Tree Farm!

  2. Avatar James Work
    James Work says:

    Glad to hear things are going well. The orchid looks like a cattalay. I have not had luck this the bids have not opened.

    • I had two that opened, which is one more than last year and it was a scrawny plant that eventually died. Having the greenhouse in the upstairs bedroom to keep them humid really helped. I’m just about ready to put them on the upstairs porch for the summer.