My personal happiness level went up about 27 percent this weekend with the arrival of the bee hive! This is the second year that we sponsored a hive from Bring Back the Bees. Art, Bryn and Trey unloaded the hive and placed it on a base in the back yard. This year we decided to move the hive to a more central location where it gets much more sun; last year only the sunny side of the hive had any honey.
Once the hive was placed, Art opened the hive, which had been sealed for transport. I was standing nearby and a number of the bees flew into my hair and on my arms but I didn’t get stung. For the next week the bees will be trying to find food, so are flying in circles rather in the efficient and direct manner that they will later in the summer. Right now we have a lot of flowers in bloom as well as a number of flowering trees including the Saskatoon berry tree, the rhodos and the ornamental cherry in the front. I took Bryn’s suggestion and filled our bird bath with lots of rocks so that there are many landing spots for the bees.
Art placed a pollen patty in the hive and also filled up the reservoir on the right (with the two holes in the photo above) with sugar water to keep them supplied while they become familiar with their new hood. Bryn and Art have a great website and are still looking for bee sponsors. Here is their website: http://www.3bhoneybee.ca. (Ha ha – photos of me on their blog! http://www.3bhoneybee.ca/blog.html)
This whole weekend was filled with gardening, and I was very lucky to have lots of extra help from one of my highly incentivized assistants, who picked lots of kale, dug holes, planted trees, pulled dandelions and weeded. Here are some of the highlights (and things I want to keep track of).
- Planted the dwarf burning bush in the middle of the bulbs in the front. The latin name is Euonymous Alata ‘compacta’, and is described as “a very hardy deciduous shrub for sun. Will grow in poor soil and tough situations.” (Ooo, it had me at “very hardy”!)
- Transplanted the Skimmia japonica ‘Rubela’ which is becoming kind of anemic from growing in a pot for so long, to an empty space beside it’s relatives. They are in full bloom and smell incredible. These plants thrive in the shade, so we have many of them on that side of the house. The lily of the valley are spreading and about to bloom there as well…
- Replaced the dried up bay plant and also splurged on some seedlings: parsley, Brussel sprouts, spinach and rainbow chard. The herb bed is looking great with lots of cilantro, chives and nasturtiums, but none of other seeds have emerged.The kale is still growing strong and we are eating it every few days, but in a few more weeks people are going to start to protest the colonic goodness and so I want to have the other greens on hand when that happens. There are some other seeds growing, which I can’t remember planting, but might be radish? Or maybe other kale?
- I planted the brussels sprout seedlings in the overwintered cabbage/kale bed. I’ve been waiting for the cabbage to magically grow heads. Today I realized that the cabbage I have must be some kind of loose type, so picked the biggest leaves from all four plants and we sauteed them with the kale for dinner.
- In the front, where the plum used to be, we planted….another plum tree. This one is a European Italian (early) Semi Dwarf, and is the same type we had there before. This is the only type of plum I really like. The tree is self-pollinating.
- In the slopey part of the back yard, we planted a Honeycrisp apple, semi dwarf (M27). The label promises crisp super sweet fruit, with an “explosive crispness, flavour, and texture”. Great, more explosives. The sign at the store said that this did best with a pollinator, but is not absolutely necessary. I purchased this one to pollinate the existing apple tree since I noticed that our neighbor cut down hers. Says that it blooms mid-season and produces at the end of September, so now I am worried that it is going to bloom too late to be of use.
- A pear 4-way combination. Wow, this has four different branches, each with a different species. These ones can pollinate each other. I left the tags on for now. I am very, very excited about this tree.
- I did some watering as I noticed that some of the plants are just starting to look dry. I watered the raspberries and need to purchase some new drip hoses for them, as the hoses only last a few years. While I was there, I cut some canes that I thought were dead (no leaves, unlike the rest) and then realized that the canes were still green. CRAP. I cut them down in size and put them in water in hopes that they may root (slim chance).
The last thing I did this weekend was spend some time watching the bees from under the apple tree…gardening year is off to a great start…SANTE!