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Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Busy as a Bee

We’re just coming out of a week long cold snap where our temps dipped down to 0° c. at night and right around 10°c. during the day. This is a bit too cold for the bees and so they haven’t been out much which is a shame because we currently have several fields in our area filled with bright yellow canola plant blossoms, the bees love it and it gives them a large part of their spring honey supply. Today our temps are back up and the bees are zipping around like crazy.

Here is a picture of the hives with their additional honey boxes.

Currently there are 4 boxes to each hive, boxes are added as needed for honey storage. In the bottom two boxes the queen lays her eggs and all the new bees are born there. So unless you want bee larvae mixed in with your honey, you have to keep the queen out of the honey storage boxes, you can see in the picture a thin board right in the middle which I’ve marked as “queen excluder”. You place that thin board, which is actually a metal screen, on top of the brood box (where the babies are). The worker bees can pass through the slots in the screen but they are just a bit too narrow for the queen to fit through, so she can’t go up into the top boxes.

My husband has been making good progress with the garbage removal, he’s got the first dumpster filled and we will get another one on Monday which is only for wood. There was heaps of stacked wood left to rot behind the house, we’re not allowed to burn it ourselves so have to pay to have it hauled away.

This mixed material dumpster will end up costing around 500 euro… getting rid of garbage around here is not cheap! The wood container should be a bit cheaper since it only contains one thing.

I haven’t been able to do much around the garden since the weather turned cold so I’m just dreaming about what to plant where :O)

Next year I will plant a large herb garden, but for this year I’m only growing a few things on our bridge, just the stuff we use the most, like parsley, thyme, chives and later I’ll plant some basil.

This is flat leaf parsley that I planted a few days ago.

And here are some plants that I ordered from an online shop. They arrived packed in hay and looking a bit rough but they’ve popped back into shape nicely. I want to use as many native plants as I can, and also insect friendly plants, I’ll probably end up with a yard full of plants that many people would consider weeds, but those are of course the ones that are most attractive to wildlife.

Here I’ve got some lady’s mantle, two types of comfrey, black-eyed Susans, and some hardy “Munstead” lavender.

And these are my catmint babies. Hopefully the cats will give them time to grow before rolling around in them ;O)

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It’s back!

I had no idea how many people really enjoyed reading this blog, I apologize for taking it down, I didn’t think it would be missed. So ok, I’m putting it back up. There really is alot of good information here, even if I don’t update it all that often.

I’ll try to keep so much dust from gathering in future! Enjoy!

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This is a subject that literally leaves me feeling sick inside. It infuriates me, it scares the Hell out of me, it makes me despair for the future of this planet, it leaves me feeling sad and confused as to how and why any sane, rational, caring human being could involve themselves with this. Something has got to be done about this company…

Many countries are resisting, they are banning GMO crops and Monsanto’s products and technology but it still creeps in around the edges. Many countries have tried, but are now losing the battle. Globally, thousands of farmers have had their lives destroyed by this company. Many cultures have lost their native crops, they’ve become ill and have unwittingly become dependent on Monsanto for their very livelihoods.

Hundreds of seed companies are now owned and controlled by this company and thousands of plant varieties are disappearing, never to be seen again. Thousands of people are sick and dying due to illnesses caused by the pesticides, chemicals and animal growth hormones made by this company. Why aren’t more people talking about this? Why aren’t people doing something about it?

I think many people simply don’t know the whole story, don’t realize how serious it is. And what can the average person do about it anyway?

I think that voting with your wallet and your fork, is a step in the right direction. Buying locally grown food from small farms will help, support your local farmer’s markets and CSA programs. Avoid pre-packaged, processed and refined foods, most of them contain GMO ingredients. Avoid fast food restaurants. Prepare more meals at home using fresh, local, whole food ingredients. Cut back on, or better yet, eliminate all meat and dairy products which are full of cancer-causing hormones (not to mention antibiotics and other nasty things). Let your representatives know what you think. Be vocal about it! Stay informed and do your research. If possible, join and support organizations created to fight against this company (see links below). This problem really does affect us all. So assuming that lack of knowledge is the biggest factor, I’m providing a link to this in-depth documentary. Please watch it and spread the word, we can’t continue to sit by and let this happen!

“The World According to Monsanto”
This is part 1 of a 10 part documentary. You can watch the other parts on YouTube, just click on the video screen below. The whole thing is about 90 minutes long, it’s time well spent!

For more information, check out the following links…

Millions Against Monsanto Campaign

The Campaign – Grass Roots Political Action

The MonoCulture of the Mind

Farmers Launch Anti-Trust Lawsuit Against Monsanto

Global Research – Biotechnology and Gmo

Films and Documentaries:

Food, Inc. (at theaters and on DVD)

Food Matters (view online, DVD)

HOME (view online, DVD)

The Future of Food (view online – USA only)

GMO Trilogy – Unnatural Selection (view online)

Seeds of Deception (view online)

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a film by Yann Arthus Bertrand

Just a quick note to tell you about a film that I think is of huge importance and which carries a strong and impacting message for us all. I hope you will take the time to watch it and to consider the message it brings. It is so important to our world, to our way of life and to the future generations who follow…

This movie was made and sponsored so that it could be shared freely and watched by all, so please do!

Here is the trailer…

You can watch the entire film directly from the official website or on YouTube.

Here is the official HOME website:
http://www.home-2009.com

YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxENMKaeCU



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Taking a Break

I guess you already noticed that…lol! Well this summer is just proving to be too much for me, there’s too much going on and too little time to do it in so something has to give. Unfortnately it has to be the blog(s). I can’t keep up with it all so until things slow down, you won’t find much new here. When life returns to normal, I’m sure I’ll be back!

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woodball1I know many people don’t like wasps but they really are beneficial. I find them just as fascinating as I do our honey bees. It’s true that they do kill a few of our honey bees, but so do many other things. The wasps don’t take that many and we’ve all learned to live together peacefully. The wasp in the picture above is a German Yellow-jacket, I’ve found them to be very peaceful and non-aggressive. We have quite a few living in our area and have never had any problems with them. In fact I’ve gotten more stings from our bees (3) than for these guys (0).

This one is collecting wood for her nest. She is nibbling off very thin strips of wood and rolling it into a ball so she can more easily carry it. I love to watch them do this.

yellowjacket

Now she is picking up the ball of wood and getting ready to fly back to her nest.

We also have a variety of very tiny wasp, I’m not sure what they are, they look like this wasp but are much smaller and very non-aggressive. They usually set up a nest on our porch every summer and don’t mind at all when we sit just beneath the entrance to their nest  in the evenings, they come and go and mind their own business so we don’t mind them living there.

Another wasp that we are lucky enough to live with is the giant European Hornet. These guys are rather scary looking because they are so big! They measure approximately 1 1/2″  long. They have a very distinctive drone, very low and deep. I can generally tell just by the sound whether it’s a honey bee, wasp or a giant hornet flying by the window. Though the hornets are big and intimidating they are also very non-aggressive. They are rather rare here and I believe they are protected so we feel very lucky to have them living in our area. In the early spring we usually see the queen flying around and she is truly an impressive sight!

Photo by Richard Bartz

Photo by Richard Bartz

This is a picture of a European Hornet with a bit of captured prey that she will take back to feed to her growing larvae. I think she is just beautiful!

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I love to watch our bees drink, it’s something you don’t see everyday. Long periods of time can go by without noticing any bees at all near the water barrel and then one day you wake up to find 30-40 bees all drinking at once, and they will usually spend the next several days drinking. Peer told me that this is a good indication that they are breeding. They are hauling water back to the hive. He says that they use the water to drink and also to regulate the temperature in the hive. Here is the place that our bees like to drink.

waterbarrel

Inside the barrel we have a piece of styrofoam which is like a raft for the bees. All those black dots on the styrofoam are bees. One thing I’ve discovered is that bees do not do very well around water, they fall in and drown really easily. They do much better with this big raft. The styrofoam is not totally flat and smooth, I picked out shallow holes in the surface so that water can well up and make little shallow ponds on the surface of the raft, then they can drink in relative safety. Here are some close-ups of the raft.

beegroup

That same raft has been in there for more than a year, they hold up well. You can see a bit of algae has developed but the bees don’t mind, there are many other places they could get water from, but they seem to prefer this spot.

beesclose

beesdrinking

beedrink3

We’ve got lots of stuff blooming in our area right now. The cherry trees started blooming over the weekend and that is when the beekeepers around here put the honey boxes on the hives. That’s what peer did yesterday. He also set up 2 of our Warre hives in the hope that when the bees begin to swarm that they will just move into one of the empty hives. We have a hard time catching the swarms otherwise, because the hives are surrounded by several really tall trees and of course when they swarm they go to the very top where we can’t reach them.

honeyboxes

I forgot to tell you that we did end up losing another hive so we are down to three right now. The one that we thought was just weak was actually dead. The bees we saw going in and out were bees from the other hives raiding it.

and so that’s about it for now, I’ll leave you with a few photos…

swampmarigolds

These are my swamp marigolds, they live in the water-trough next to the barrel where the bees drink.

basilsprouts

And this is my favorite picture from yesterday. These are my basil seedlings coming up.

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