Wednesday, March 31, 2021

November Hill farm journal, 123

 This week we have scout bees checking out both our bait hives. Hegemone hive is bursting at the seams, and as soon as we get past the point of having cold nights (several nights this week we could be seeing temps at 29 degrees F!) I’m going to try doing a runaway split using Sam Comfort’s method of taking the brood box and base of Hegemone, moving it to where the Echo bait hive is now sitting, and move the Echo base to Hegemone’s current location with Hegemone’s top box. The idea is that the original Hegemone brood box contains the queen and she and nurse bees plus lots of eggs and brood will go to a new location. The old location will have some brood and resources - and a number of foragers will return to the new Echo hive we’ve placed there. The Echo hive will have to raise a new queen, and this gap in egg-laying will create what’s called a brood break, which is a good way to also create a varroa mite break. The runaway part is that you don’t get invasive - you simply move brood boxes and let the bees do their thing.

The main benefit is that with Hegemone thriving right now, we’ll avoid their natural swarm - or to be more precise, we will get to keep what would have been their swarm - and by doing that we’ll have two very good hives going into the nectar flow. Hegemone genetics are good by all measures we can make, so we want to keep them and build our apiary using their swarms as much as we can.

Artemis hive is still very small. I’m seeing a little bit of activity and we’ll see if they pick up as we move forward. 

The scout bees I’m seeing around the two bait hives are very light in color, so I’m thinking these are not any of our bees scouting. I’m hoping we’ll get to see a swarm move in.

Over the weekend I did a mild power-washing of our back deck. After a lot of consideration, mostly having to do with what I can tolerate in terms of work being done this spring, we decided to simply repair our existing deck and spruce things up a bit instead of having the entire thing redone. I ordered a few things from Lowe’s, did curbside pick-up, and here’s what I ended up with:

I have to admit that I’m a failure at power washing. It was obvious as I worked on it that if I really went at it, I could get the deck back to near original condition and then would need to treat it for best results. However, doing this in the few spots I tried it meant that a lot of dirt was flying onto the sliding glass doors and side of the house, and I would have needed to then clean THAT off, and I definitely did not want to end up having to treat the decking right now. It feels like everything sets off a series of domino chores needing to be done. I pulled back well short of that happening. 

Today we had some help taking care of an issue that’s been developing over the past year with a certain canine family member who methodically dug out a cave den beneath the deck steps that was 3x her size. This hole was holding water when it rains and generally just a big fat mess. 

This is where we got to addressing that today:

The muddy when wet clay beneath the deck is now covered with clean gravel, the cave den has been filled in, and we have a tidy grid panel to keep the dogs out. The panel to the far left is removable for accessing the dryer vent, and the deck railing and stair rail have been repaired so they are stable again. I’m going to plant something in front of the longer section of railing that will act as a rain garden type thing to help with run-off which has been happening since we bought the house. We’ve slowed it doing some other things but this should really make a difference. 

Once we get the rest of the deck underlay graveled and paneled, we’ll also have a cat door so they can go in and out. They like having space where the dogs can’t go, and this will do nicely for them. 

I really wanted the grid paneling to be black enamel, but it’s been out of stock at all the local (and beyond) sources for months and this project couldn’t wait. At some point we’ll redo the entire deck and when we do, we can make some upgrades. This will do for summer and fall and then we’ll see where we are. 

I’m grooming huge wads of fur off the equines this week, in particular, the pony, to the degree that I am getting his ACTH checked when the vet is here this month. He may be having PPID symptoms. The pastures are greening up quickly and we have all our materials to move to donkey and pony get fit boot camp. 

In other news, I received my second Covid shot today (it feels like today still but at this point it was yesterday). I have a sore arm and I woke up at 4 a.m. but other than that am not having other issues yet. 

We’re expecting rain/storms this afternoon/evening, a few days of much cooler weather, than more clearing and warm days beyond that, when I can move on to the garden beds that need to be prepped for spring!


Grey Horse Matters said...

I think the deck looks good. You did a nice job on it. As for the bees I don't know that much about them and leave it to J. since its her project. Good luck with the colonies.

billie said...

Thank you! In my fantasy neighborhood, you and J live right next door. :)))