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Posts Tagged ‘poison’

Ok, not really,  I just thought it would make a catchy title :O)

Bees prefer hot dry weather to swarm in, which is what we have right now. It’s still a bit early in our area but the bees don’t care about calenders, they’ve decided that this is a good weekend. On Friday we went to a really neat nursery owned by a fellow beekeeper. He keeps a few hives there at the nursery, but the neat thing about it is that he specializes in native plants and insect friendly plants, you don’t really find the typical garden center plants there. And my favorite thing is that he has created over the years a lovely garden which you can walk through complete with large pond and wandering trails full of flowering plants. It’s so inspiring and beautiful, we are going to visit there 3-4 times over the season to see what is blooming and how plants are looking at different times of the season.

Anyway! Back to the bees.

So we got home from the nursery in the afternoon only to find that a swarm had flown by. Our neighbor, who is a farmer and is outside ALL the time, saw the swarm flying round shortly before we got home…naturally. As you know, we have horrible luck when it comes to catching swarms. We still don’t know if it was ours or someone else’s and we have no idea where they finally ended up. P  could have torn the hives down to check, but there isn’t much point really. So, another one lost.

But wait, there is more!

Then Saturday afternoon P gets a phone call that there are not one but two swarms reported in a nearby village and will he please come and get them…please?! So he gets all of his swarm-catching paraphernalia together and heads out. He gets to the first place and discovers that the bees had been sitting on a bush in the lady’s back yard, how convenient! No ladders involved! Only problem is that it flew away again just 5 minutes before he arrived…Doh!

So off to the next address. Here the bees had landed up in a roof in an old shed. When P went in he said a nasty toxic chemical smell hit him and he thought it was strange that a swarm would go into a place that smelled like that. He found the swarm, or what was left of it. Below the swarm was a pile of dead bees and the only thing remaining of the swarm was about 2-3 handfuls of bees in a clump. He put them in the swarm box and set them out in the shade so that the stragglers could join the others and he planned to go back in the evening a get the box.

When he went back the bees were back in the stinky shed again and this time there were only about 1 handful of bees left. He left them there, they were obviously dying and nothing could be done for them. He thinks now that they were poisoned. Either by the home owner who maybe first tried to spray them and then when they didn’t die right away, called the swarm hotline. Either that or someone else sprayed them, or they flew through something toxic. Really hard to say but they are done for. He is going back today to check on them.

So 3 swarms in 2 days and we struck out again. I think there’ll be several more opportunities though so we’re not giving up yet :O)

Oh, forgot to mention that the picture above is from a swarm we caught in 2007. That one was from our own bees and it was a success but I think it was the last one we managed to capture without a hitch.

And finally, just a reminder, although I know it is not needed for most people who read this blog, please don’t try to kill bees if you happen to get a swarm in your yard, most places have a removal service or a local beekeeper that will be happy to pop right over and take them away for you. Remember that they wont hurt you, they are very passive when they are swarming and they will remain in their protective clump (they are protecting the queen who is in the center of the clump. Best thing to do is just stay away from them so as not to stress them, call your local beekeeper or removal service. Many times the swarm is just passing through so they wont be there long in any case.

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This year we got off to an earlier start but still I think we were a bit late. Next year we will have a greenhouse and that should help quite a bit with getting things going on time and also with many of the plants that are not as hardy and need additional heat and shelter like; tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, etc. Last year we didn’t manage to raise even one tomato, we raised the plants from seed on our veranda and they were just too small and slow growing to produce any fruit before the cold Fall weather arrived.

This year we bought greenhouse-raised tomato plants from the farmer’s market which were already beginning to flower and were about 1 ft tall. We moved them out into the garden a few weeks ago and they are doing really well. We also tried once again to raise a few plants from seed but they are again, way too small.

Last year we were so frustrated and disgusted with our dismal results that we didn’t even bother to properly close down the garden, we just left everything as it stood, weeds, dead plants and all, and so this year Peer had to completely dig the beds again.

Last year we had a very dark and wet growing season which no doubt contributed to our failed garden. This year we are having the opposite… it’s way too hot and hardly a drop of rain so far. Using tap water to water our garden isn’t even an option. Water is way too expensive here and it is just not the way it is done. You never see sprinklers or irrigation systems in our area, instead we use rainwater. Up until recently we didn’t have a very large rainwater catch and so we hauled water in buckets from the creek that runs under our property. Now that we’ve got our large rain barrels hooked up, we fill watering cans from them and water the garden that way. We are having to water every 1-2 days currently and it’s about an hour’s job.

But here is what the garden looked like yesterday. We purposefully kept it small this year. We figure it is better to have a few smaller successes than one huge failure like last year. We’ve got potatoes, white cabbage, red cabbage, brussels sprouts, peas, broad beans, bush beans, pumpkins, cucumber, tomato, radishes, carrots, onions, garlic, spinach and sunflowers…a small amount of everything.

Another problem last year was the bugs. We had a HUGE amount of snails and slugs. We were determined not to treat them with anything poisonous, we want to let the land work out the balance between good bugs and bad bugs naturally, but damn, is it hard watching them devour and destroy all your hard work! We waited until nearly the end last year and then put down snail and slug bait. Not poisonous to anything but slugs and snails. It helped but was like spitting on a forest fire at that point. This year we began right away with the snail and slug bait and it is making a huge difference.

We definitely aren’t pest free though. We started keeping out cucumber and pumpkin plants covered at night because we lost 2 plants during the first night to something which just bites the stems completely through down near the base. It didn’t even bother to eat the plant just chewed them in half and left them laying there! I think it was slugs or snails but I’m not sure. The lids seem to be helping, I’m pushing them down about 2″ into the dirt.

A closer view of our potatoes and cabbages, these seem to be doing really well.

Of course we’ve also got a ton of aphids. My MIL gave me a climbing rose bush last year for my birthday and I planted it beside my studio. Of course this year it has just about every kind of pest that a rose bush can have. Along with the tons of aphids, it’s also got something that is completely chewing the flower buds in half. I haven’t seen what is doing that but I’m first going to focus on the aphids…more about that in my next post.

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