Bees and Berries

This past weekend we opened the hive, and everything looked terrific. Here's a good shot of some comb with capped honey at the top, then uncapped honey further down, then pollen stores in the middle.

In this close-up, you can see some drone comb near the bottom - at least that's what I think it is, anyway - the puffy domed cells are drone larvae.

My hive is configured in such a way that it's difficult to see the brood - the baby worker bees - but I'm hoping to remedy that next weekend.

This was the first time we used smoke in opening the hive, and the only reason I used it was to get the bees back down into the hive so I wouldn't squish them when I pushed the bars back together. I use my hive tool, a brush, and my veil - and that's it.

I don't like to cover up or wear gloves. The more I read, the more it seems unnecessary. The goal is to look as unlike a big, hairy bear as possible. So as long as I wear light colored clothing and cover my hair, I feel ok. Bees DO aim for faces - eyes, nose, and mouth - when they feel threatened, so I'll probably continue to use my veil. I also read last night that when they sting you, the sting leaves a scent, so other bees know where to find you and sting you as well! So far, I have not gotten stung, but I imagine it is a part of beekeeping and eventually it'll happen. No big deal.

My bees arrived after my fruit trees bloomed, which is a bummer. But the blossoms got pollinated this year just as they have every year, and we have baby peaches and baby apples on the trees. Also baby quince, though I'm never as excited to see them as I am to see the others. (Recipes or suggestions for quince welcomed.)

The blueberries are all formed, but not turning blue. What's up with that? When do I get to eat them?

We get about one strawberry a day lately, and usually it's me that eats it on the fly. If we ever get more than one, I might share.

I'm always afraid the birds are going to get to it before I do.

I'm starting to think a lot about how many strawberry plants we would need to have a pint of berries per day, in season - which is about how much we eat. I have five strawberry plants. They are incredibly slow to ripen at the moment. It's possible that we will get a deluge all at once - and that would be fine - but I would like to have enough varieties that we could have a steady supply for a month or two. That would be ideal. I have no idea how many plants to have next year, or which varieties. That will be something I will have to figure out.

It's the same with the fruit trees. When the peaches are ripe, they're all ripe - and it would be nice to have a staggered harvest. The apple tree is the same. I need to plant other varieties - or graft several varieties on to one tree. But that seems terribly advanced, and I'll need to do a lot more studying before I can make that happen. Then there is the issue of space...

We're harvesting peas every day, they are always welcomed and delicious, everyone in the family enjoys peas.

And the tomatoes have started flowering - I hope the bees are taking advantage.

Everything else is in the seedling stage. This week, hot weather is on tap. I imagine things will move more quickly with the hotter weather.