Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Busy As A Bee

We've been so busy lately. The bees seem to be doing better, and we have green tomatoes and quite a few squash blossoms.

Just wanted to share this story we saw cross the wires.

DANVERS, Mass. – Maybe these bees were too tired to fly for themselves. A gang of honeybees landed on the wing of a plane used for flight school training at Beverly Airport. At first, the 10,000 or so bees swarmed over the left side of the aircraft, then landed on top of the left wing. The owner of the flight center called police, who said to call local bee removal expert Al Wilkins.

Wilkins used a specially designed vacuum to suck the bees off the plane, and then relocated them to hives where they will produce honey.

Wilkins guessed that the queen may have stopped to rest on the plane, and the other bees congregated around to protect her.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Garden, Garden Everywhere

As we drove around today, we couldn't help but notice all of the gardens. There seemed to be gardens everywhere we looked. Some were huge and some were only a row or two, but they were green and growing and alive.

Our garden is still hanging in there, but we may have either started some of our seeds to late or not waited long enough before planting them. It looks as if some of the plants have disappeared altogether.

We hope to do our weekly check on the bees tomorrow. Hopefully the colony will have grown and we will see some hatched brood, and maybe if we are lucky we may even see some emerging.

Here's hoping for another exciting day.

Happy Farming.

Monday, May 18, 2009

So.....He Is Worth Something

Over the weekend we received an interesting gift - from our dog. He brought us an animal. Yes, an animal. He caught a mole that had been digging up our yard.

For the last couple weeks, our dog has been digging up our yard. We had just smoothed it all out and planted new grass - he was driving us crazy.

Apparently he had been after this mole for quite some time, and luckily he caught it before it made to our garden. That would've made us mad.We knew that dog would be worth something at some point in his life.

Our garden is looking strong, and our tomatoes have several blossoms.

Hope to have some pictures up of the mole soon.

Happy Farming.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Checking out the ladies...

We checked out the bees today.They looked good. Several frames of brood were capped meaning that new bees are on the way. Since this is our first hive, we don't have a lot of experience, but we think that were not that many bees.

We think that those bees are looking low in number, but as the bees start hatching the numbers will improve. Hopefully, they will increase the number and start building up the colony. Even if we don't get honey this year, we hope that we can at least get the frame built out in the first two boxes.

Anyways, it was exciting and we hope that the bees continue to grow and build.

While we were out there, we checked on the garden. The vegetables look good...can't wait. Have a good weekend.

Happy Farming!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Congratulations to our contest winner - Bovee Brigade. Thanks to all who responded. We appreciate it.

We were going to check on the bees this evening, but it was a little overcast. We will wait until a sunny day to open up the hive - that way more are out and about.

The garden is looking good. We have blossoms on some of our tomatoes and our beans are growing nice and healthy. Some our peppers and tomatoes are looking rather puny, but hopefully they'll perk up soon.

Looks like some good rain coming in this weekend and then some beautiful, growing, sunny weather.

Happy Farming.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Vanquished The Foe

Prickers no more!

We were able to get out back behind the fence this evening and cut out all the bushes growing in through fence and cut them back. Thus, they will stay out of our garden.

We followed a dirt trail out back through the woods and found the back of our house. We were a little afraid (maybe more than a little) of snakes out there. Since there were a lot of blackberries coming ripe, we thought there may be some animals out for a snack; there were no animal snacking on the berries or us, thankfully.

Hopefully, we will be able to collect some blackberries and make some nice jam. We love blackberry jam, and it is so simple to make/ Maybe when we get a batch going, we'll fill you in on the details.

By the way, the bees seem to be all back on track without any intruders attacking this afternoon.

Happy Farming.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Double Good News

The first good news:

The bees look good. We put on the entrance reducer to the smallest entrance, and it looks like they fought off the invaders. Yeah - go bees, go bees, you bad.

The second good news:

From a press release sent out by Haagen-Dazs:

Buzz into any participating Häagen-Dazs Shop on May 12th for a “Free-bee” scoop during Häagen-Dazs ice cream’s annual Free Flavor Day!

On Tuesday, May 12, 2009, consumers can visit any participating Häagen-Dazs Shop between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. to receive a free scoop of any of Häagen-Dazs bee-built flavor. Since honey bees pollinate ingredients essential to more than 50 percent of Häagen-Dazs ice cream’s all-natural flavors, consumers will have a large assortment of flavors from which to choose.

To find a nearby Häagen-Dazs Shop where you can participate in the Free Flavor Day festivities, go here.

Go in and remember to thank the bees.

Thanks to moneysavingmom for the heads up.

Happy Farming.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

This could be trouble...

We may have a problem with our bees. There seemed to be something strange going on. We hope it is ok, we put this post on a beekeeping forum:

"Yesterday I noticed them clustering around the entrance. It seemed that they were all around each other. Today, they were all over the front of the hive and bottom board. It seemed as if 6-8 bees were all clustered around another bee trying to chase them off. They seemed to be attacking and actually fighting - trying to tear wings and being mean. I'm a little worried - yesterday I did changed the entrance reducer to the lowest setting. Also, I was told by another beekeeper to go out tonight after dark and put entrance reducer all the way closed, but there were still about 50 bees outside. They weren't flying and they weren't attacking, but they were a bunch out there just milling around. FYI...I did open up the hive Thursday night to inspect the queen - she was laying eggs; the hive was open 5-10 minutes.Any ideas? Should I just let time take its course?"

We have spent a part of day trying to find an answer as well as looking online. We don't know, but we are hoping they will just fight them off. We will check tomorrow and let you know. We will try to get a pic.
Happy Farming!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Go Ahead and Try It

We love Fridays - most people do. Perhaps it is because it's the signal of the end of the work week, the start of uninterrupted family time, or a chance to finally get into the garden and get some work done. Whatever the reason, it is here.

We saw our little pea and bean shoots start coming up out of the ground and I started thinking about seeds. Seeds are kind of amazing when you stop and think about it. From a tiny seed, a whole plant is produced - sometimes yielding fruit after fruit full of tiny little seeds to start the process all over. There is something that makes you feel good inside when your little seed becomes a plant.

Now, I know some of you out there are related to us in that you have thought about starting your garden, but just haven't yet. For those of you, we want to offer a little incentive. We have two packs of seeds that will provide you 5 delicious varieties of vegetables that we want to give you. They are both Burpee seed packs. The first one is a four in one pack providing four options in one convenient pack - that way you are not wasting unused seeds. These include: Garden Bean (colorful varieties), Cucumber (bush type), Lettuce (red & green looseleaf), and Squash (Fordhook Zuchini) The second pack is something new - at least to us. It is seed tape. You bake the row, set the tape in place, and cover it up. There is no need to put each seed in individually - all that tedious work is gone. The seed tape is Carrots - Nantes Half Long.

We will send out these seeds to one of our lucky readers.
1. To enter you have to leave a comment. It doesn't have to be specific.

2. Anyone can leave a comment.

3. Be sure we can get in touch with you. Please leave an email address!

4. To enter a second time, make a post on your own blog. Then return and leave a second comment telling us about your blog!

5. The giveaway will end at 6pm (eastern time) on Wednesday, May 13th.

6. We'll pick the winner randomly.

7. We'll contact the winner for shipping info (paid by us, of course).

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another Checkup

We got another chance to check on the bees today.

They were doing great. There was comb built up on 4 frames, and we saw eggs. The eggs normally have a life cycle of about three weeks to become worker bees. Did you know workers bees are all female? The males really are only there for reproductive purposes - the rest of the time they sponge off the female's work. If only....

They finished off 3/4 off the sugar water - not sure if we need more or not, but we put in another gallon.

The queen was active, and we know she is laying eggs. Hopefully we will see the brood cells capped soon. There also appeared to be a lot of cells of honey - none capped yet.

These bees are so amazing - if you've ever thought about having a hive we certainly recommend you to take the plunge. Just watching them come and go from the hive is great entertainment, but opening the hive and seeing what is going on in there is a whole new level of excitement.

Happy Farming!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Everybody's Doing It

Driving along today, we couldn't help but notice all of the gardens. Some were larger than our entire lot and some were just a small row in someone's yard, but they were all gardens.

We got married while still in college. Our wedding was in the late summer, and we were back in classes that fall. We moved into on campus housing. No land and no pets (that's another story - we may have had some). The next spring we were determined to have a garden. Our first "garden" wasn't even in the ground. It was in homemade wooden boxes.

We started them early with a couple of tomato plants, pepper plants, and a couple of other things under some lights inside. When the weather warmed up we moved them out onto the porch - luckily we were on the end and had a good portion of balcony; unfortunately, as memory serves, everything we started died.

A quick trip to the nursery got us a couple of tomato plants which did bear quite well. There were a couple of regular tomatoes and a couple of cherry types. Thus, our first garden.

Through the years we have tried several different gardens - in those same boxes and in the ground, but one truth remains constant. If you want a garden, there is nothing stopping you. You don't need a big lot, a big field, or even a yard. You can have at least a container garden anywhere. Look around - everyone's doing it.

Do you remember your first garden as a "couple"? Leave a comment and share with us your garden memories.

Maybe you need a jump start for this season - check back this week for a free giveaway that will get you up and running with several great options.

Happy Farming.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Watch Your Back.

We had a close call today.

As you know, we finally got our garden put in this past week. The garden backs up to part of our fence, with wild blackberries on the other side. Those things grow like crazy - they will find each and every spot between the slats in the fence.

Since we moved in, we have cut them back and pushed them pack through the fence, but they always grow back. Today, we decided it was finally time to tackle these bushes from the other side of the fence. What can a few bushes do to us?

We live in a subdivision where all of the houses have wooden fences, and no way to the back. In order to go out there, we have to go down 9 houses and go behind their fence. This was our plan of attack.

We went down the street with loppers in hand to defeat our enemy. One step behind the neighbor's fence and there were second thoughts. It was overgrown, full of pricker bushes, and we were suddenly certain it was full of snakes. Just about the time, we were trying to make up our minds we heard a voice.

The owners were there and asking, "What do you think you are doing out there?"

What could we say but, "We were trying to get to the back of our fence and cut out the thorn bushes." Then they immediately understood and said they had the same problem. Our hearts were beating fast - they had definitely scared us, but luckily no shotgun was involved.

It turns out some four wheeling people had been cutting down the wire fences at the side of the dead end on the side of our neighbor's yard in order to get their four wheelers through, and the neighbors thought that we were up to mischief. Us? Mischief? Never (at least not today - or at least not at that moment)

Instead of trying to get back there, we decided to take another route - but not today. Our neighbors told us a little more about the neighborhood. It turns out the back 20 acres behind the fence is owned in estate by some brothers and sisters who do not want to sell. It was nice to meet some new people and as it turns out have a very nice garden in their backyard.

About those thorn bushes - we will tackle them another time.

Happy Farming!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Let's See the Queen Bee

There's the queen!

After waiting for the longest weekend over to be ever, we finally checked on the queen. We used our smoker to calm the bees and then we pulled out the queen's cage (top picture). It was empty.

Since the cage was empty, we decide to look for the queen on one of the frames. we found her on the second frame. There she is with the big white dot on her back.

The bees have been quite busy the last four days. They have built up some comb on four of the frames. Things are looking good for them.

Our garden is off to a good start. Our plants are still looking healthy, and our bees are doing what they should. We sure can't wait until they can pollinate our vegetables.

Happy Farming!

You're Installing What? Where?

Ok. Call us crazy if you wish, but we are putting a hive of bees in our backyard.

It is a new adventure, but we are really looking forward to it. Of course we would not go into this without any experience - we recently helped another beekeeper install bees in a new hive. It is his first time too.

We have read a lot, watched some DVDs, and researched online. We ordered our hive and beekeeping supplies from Mann Lake (yes, we got cool hats)and our bees from Bee Weaver.

We picked up the bees on Thursday, April 30th, 2009.
After picking up our bees, we made sure our hive was set up correctly. We put in 7 frames and a feeder frame which we filled with sugar water. We sprayed the bees several times with sugar water as we prepared to install them into their new home.

A typical bee package comes with a queen and 3 pound of bees - at nearly 3,000 bees a pound there is some 9,000 bees in that first package. It was a little scary, but we were prepared.

The first step was removing the queen. We pried her cage off and set her safely on the hive. Then we removed some of the frames and dumped in the bees. Carefully, we replaced the frames carefully placing the queen's cage in between two frames. The queen is kept in place by cork covering some candy. We removed the cork and poked a small hole in the candy which will help the bees eat through and release the queen.
Finally, we closed up the hive.

We will check back in a few days to see if the queen is out!

Happy Farming.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

First Things First

Here it goes.

Welcome to our blog.

One of our goals in life is to have a farm and garden, but at the current time we are "trapped" in suburbia. In order to escape this madness, we have decided to set up a garden and a bee hive in our yard. This is not our first garden, but certainly our first hive. We our truly a Farmer Want to Be, and with bees. Farmerwannabee - get it?

In order to keep you updated, we hope to blog often about our garden, our bees, and our life in general.

So, we finally got the garden planted today. We have been industrious lately. We tilled our whole yard in order to reseed the lawn, and it set us back a little bit in our garden plans - and we may have started everything a bit late.

Our dog has a tendency to eat any growing things, so we had to set up a fence. We used 4 ft. welded wire and T-posts. It actually went along a lot faster than we thought. We were having difficulties with the air stapler, and we were about to switch to an old electric staple gun - luckily we double checked the psi on the compressor and that fixed the problem.

We started peppers (bell, jalapeno, banana), tomatoes (better boy,roma), squash (summer & zucchini), watermelon, and cucumbers inside a few weeks ago - we planted those to start.

Along with that, we planted peas and green beans (pole & bush) from seed, as well as a few plants from a local greenhouse: lemon boy (yellow tomatoes), habaneros, cherry peppers, & cherry tomatoes.

We watered them in and now it is wait and see time.

I will post more about our bees and getting them installed in the hive later.

Happy Farming!