Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Sisyphean Struggle

Spring weeds and not using weed killer is killing me. I should have put down my mulch before the season was over last year....but did I? No. I did put in the dry creek bed through the garden, so I wasn't sitting on my laurels all winter. 

This was the garden last May -


It was full and lush, visited by many pollinators. I resisted cutting back spent foliage over the winter as the stems and seed heads are beneficial to birds and insects for food and habitat.

Here is was blooming in June last year- 

I was very happy with how the garden filled out, looking forward to this year's growth. We visited our each of our grandchildren since we have been vaccinated. With one visit in mid-March and the other in early April I tried to attack the winter weeds in between trips. Ha! 
You can see in the photo below an abundance of winter Poa anna winter grass- all going to seed. I really thought I had knocked it back a good bit before we left for our second trip. Between the bird bath and the Magnolia you can see light green seed heads. 



For the last few days I have been pulling weeds. In the center of this garden are seedlings of last years blooms, none of which I want to disturb. Yikes.  In the photos below you see a sea of weeds. The first photo I marked the edge of the garden. Boy do I need to get busy. Seems like each night the weeds grow by leaps and bounds, my Sisyphean struggle, starting over again each day. 


In the middle of this mess is a tiny Oakleaf hydrangea, Little Honey. Hydrangea quercifolia 'Little Honey'


My success yesterday was that I finished getting all the weeds (well mostly, am sure some will reappear this morning) out of the center of the garden where most of the blooming plants are. I had gone to a plant sale on Saturday and had some Salvia x superba 'Merleau', Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus Superior' and two different varieties of Asclepias tuberosa, the standard and 'Hello Yellow' to plant. I did have two Asclepias tuberosa in the garden but they have disappeared, late in emerging?


You can't see a small fence around this center area, it was put up to keep the dog from walking through the herbaceous plants and hopefully keep the rabbits out. The bamboo stakes in the photo above are marking some Amaryllis bulbs outside the fenced area. I stepped on them one time too many, so they needed to be marked. 
Today's job? I think this area-


Oh, did I mention that the place I get the pine straw to mulch my garden doesn't have any? Crossing my fingers for it to be in by the end of the week. My resolution is to keep a good thick bed of pine straw to retard germination of the weeds for next winter. Wish me luck!

p.s.- tick bite yesterday, yay.

©Copyright 2021 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

All A'Buzz- pt. 4 Pest Management

Gardeners may know there is a PMG (Pest Management Guide) for many pests in the garden. Working with bees ones also needs to be aware of sound pest management. There are both pests and diseases that a beekeeper needs to manage to keep a healthy hive. This post will address a few of the pests. 

One pest we have not had in our hives, for which I am quite thankful, is wax moths. Visual assessment of the hive boxes will let you know if you have these moths. Good hygiene is critical. As with any pest, letting it go for too long makes it that much more difficult to get rid of. If you have wax moths/larvae a good clean of all frames and boxes is needed.  

Hive beetles are an ongoing pest in the hive. These beetles are small black beetles, a little larger than a Sesame seed. The bees do a good job of 'cornering' the beetles in the upper parts of the hive. To assist with the corralling of said beetles, we use beetle traps. It is a long narrow reservoir with a perforated top. You fill the reservoir with mineral oil and nestle it in between two frames, in an upper box and at the outside region of the frames.  


These beetle traps remain in the hives year round, replaced when full of dead beetles. The bees don't mind these traps and from the looks of it, they move the beetles to the trap. 



The next pest I want to tell you about are Varroa mites. These mites are tiny, about the size of a poppy seed, but flat. The mites lay their eggs in with the bee larvae and once the cell of the bee larvae is capped, the mites grow along with the bee. The mites continue laying eggs inside the capped cell. Once the bee emerges from its cell, there is a large brood of mites as well. The mites weaken the bees. To test for Varroa mites you need to sacrifice about 100 bees per hive. We have a special jar contraption. It is two jars, one on top of the other, that share a lid. This lid is mesh top with a threaded screw on top and bottom. One hundred bees are gathered into the jar and the other side is filled with rubbing alcohol.  You close the jar and shake it so the alcohol is mixed with the bees. This kills both the bees and the mites. You then check the rubbing alcohol to count the number of mites per one hundred bees. You don't want more than three per hundred. 

If you have more than three per hundred, treatment is needed. We first used Apivar strips for treatment. It is a chemically treated piece of plastic that the bees walk on. The bees pick up the chemical and spread it around the hive to each other. These strips remain in the hive for 42 days. While the claim is that there is no significant residue in the wax, honey, pollen or propolis, we chose to keep the honey supers off the hives during this time. Click on the link to learn more. https://www.dadant.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2011/09/Apivar-leaflet-EDITED-010413.pdf



You are to place one strip per 6- 10 frames, so about one per box. They hang from the top of the frame. I think this delayed our honey for harvesting.  We learned about another method for treating Varroa mites last year.  


We are in the bee club in our area and one of the members shared how he treats the mites. We liked his method, so it is our method as well. It is a Vaporization of Oxalic Acid. We do three treatments, one week apart, twice a year. The Oxalic Acid is a natural element, doesn't harm the bees. We can remove the honey boxes (supers), treat the hives, then replace the honey supers.

The powdered oxalic acid gets measured out, into the heating element. Specific directions can be found here. The heating element has jumper cable type clamps on the other end.  We remove the honey supers and replace the covers to the hive. Measure out the correct amount of powder, 1/4 tsp. per box. The wand end of the heating element goes in the front door of the hive and a cloth gets stuffed in around to block the hole.


Here's Charlie, suited up measuring out the powder, the jumper cable ends will get hooked to the riding lawn mower tractor battery.


Timing the application - hook the cables up for 2 1/2 minutes, disconnect the power and allow the heating element to remain in the hive for 2 more minutes. You should see smoke coming out through the seams at the top of the hive. After the allotted time, remove the heating element and seal the opening again for ten minutes to allow the smoke to permeate the entire hive. Place the heating element in a water bath to cool it before moving it on to the next hive. In the photo above you can see the honey super behind the hive. 


After the ten minutes, remove the cloth at the front door of the hive. You can see the foragers want back in! When the front door is open you can remove the top lid and inner lid, replace the honey super and you are done with that hive. Like I said above, this is done three consecutive weeks, that way getting all foragers, all newly emerged brood and all the nurse maid bees exposed to the vapor of the oxalic acid. We do this in the spring and then again in the fall.  

Will we have to continue to do Varroa mite treatments every year? I don't know, we will do the rubbing alcohol test and count the infestation. Some beekeepers don't treat for these mites, but you can risk losing a hive if they get overrun with the mites.



©Copyright 2021 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Queen Bee

and the Honeylovers. Wait, is this a bee post? No, but it mentions bees in the band's name. 


Let me back up a little bit. Last Saturday night after watching Austin City Limits debut performance of Ray Wylie Hubbard, a different show came on. Funny how that works, right? Anyhow, Charlie was asleep and the remote was on his side of the bed, so I just watched as I drifted off to sleep. It was a a show on PBS UNC called Echo Sessions. My interest was piqued by the performers for this week's show. Queen Bee and the Honeylovers. This band is from Asheville. For those who have read my blog for a while know I fell in love with Asheville when I went to my first Garden Blogger's Fling
The first two points in their favor are 
1. bees - we like bees- even if it is the name of a band.
2. Asheville- the name of the CD, I gave this band a listen. 
They are billed as a Swing Jazz band. The songs performed on this CD are original, written by Whitney Moore, the lead singer, or Whitney and Michael Gamble, James Posedel, or Steve Karla. Subject matter for this set of songs were legends of Asheville, many from Whitney's grandparents' stories. 
A few more points in their favor go to the songs themselves. 
3. One song is about Cornelia Vanderbilt, as she comes of age at the Biltmore hosting a masquerade ball. I love the Biltmore. During the Fling we toured the gardens. Charlie and I went back to tour the house. What a remarkable place. 
4. Zelda Fitzgerald- song title 'Legend of Zelda Fitzgerald' caught my ear as I listened to the show. Our neighborhood book club read a story of Zelda.  Guests on Earth  by Lee Smith, where it talked about her time in a hospital/sanitorium in Asheville. 
5. I am The Queen, appreciate other royalty.

 The next morning I Googled this band and found their website. I ordered their CD and it arrived Tuesday. This morning I did my curbside pick up for groceries, I grabbed the new CD and drove into town. What a fun CD, the music is light and jazzy- just what they advertised- Swing Jazz. Whitney's voice is reminiscent of music from the 20s and 30s, with fresh songs. I love the ties to Asheville as she is a 4th generation Asheville native. 
Their website mentions new material coming out, shows on television, like Echo Sessions, and radio interviews. Our favorite radio station, WNCW had their 'Asheville' CD on the list of listener-voted poll of top 100 albums at #41 for 2019 (I think I am late to the party with this band!!). 

Give a listen to the old standard  'Until the Real Thing Comes Along' 

All comments and thoughts are my own, no compensation for this review. Hope you like them as much as I do.


©Copyright 2021 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.