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Banana Nectar

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The banana tree keeps unfolding layers of new flowers and after the bees have their way with the flowers and new row of young bananas begin to swell and develop. At first the bees weren’t  spending time on the flowers. I wondered why and taste tested some of the morning nectar drops….sweet enough, so why were they avoiding the flowers.The wasps have found them….well today I found bees crawling in and around the newest row of blossoms and fewer drops of nectar evident….I am hoping the bees are consuming them.

I took this image yesterday morning and …… sorry bees, it looked too good, and yes it was.

A single drop of banana flower nectar. So very sweet.

A single drop of banana flower nectar. So very sweet.

TTFN

Bishop

Something New in the Garden

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This find was unexpected up to a point. In the spring of 2014 I planted two varieties of banana tree in my garden. I was at the point of digging them out this year if they did not produce. The other drawback is the sheer size of the plants. They dominate their portion of the garden. 

This morning I went out to visit the garden after 10 days away. Daughter Lisa and son Ben kept things green while I was gone. I picked 4 nice cucumbers and have many more developing. The peppers are not doing well and the heat/humidity have done major harm to my tomatoes.  Looks like the potatoes in the cage will be good. There is always next year! 

  
My bees, two out of three hives look healthy. One of the top bar hives is in trouble. I will check it out later today. I have 4 gallons of honey to harvest this week! Yee Haw! 

Now, the surprise! I have bananas! Yessss! Now, I need to determine when to harvest. It is interesting to see how they develop and arrange themselves! I am looking forward to sampling the fruits soon! 

   
   
Now the wait!!!!!

TTFN

Bishop

Where Have The Bees Gone?

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In the past my Meyer Lemon tree and the lime tree have been mobbed by bees when those blossoms burst out. The amazing citrus blossom scent can be detected by my puny olfactory senses from many yards away. Intoxicating! Spring of 2015 is very different. I have not observed a single honey bee visiting the blossoms. Not a single bee. What is odd about their absence? I have a huge bee hive in my backyard, 30 yards at the most from the two citrus trees. I see the bees returning to the hive loaded with pollen and the top two supers are packed with honey.

My Lemon Tree blossom being visited.....LAST YEAR!

My Lemon Tree blossom being visited…..LAST YEAR! Thee blossoms in 2015  have been lonely.

My Lemon tree just burst out into a second round of blossoms and they are lonely! For this second round of blossom I now have an additional two top bar hives, very active top bar hives! For whatever reason, my three hives are foraging somewhere else! The set of fruit has been very light this year but, this has been a very wet and stormy spring……not sure if that is a factor but I assumed that my bees would visit my citrus trees in large numbers….Wrong…..

This is what should be happening...again this is from 2014!

This is what should be happening…again this is from 2014!

Someone …. Probably many people in the neighborhood are benefitting from my bees, and yes, I do get a major benefits. The honey they are producing is mine to share as I see fit but, I may need to coach them a little better. Anybody speak bee? I could use a translator!!!!!

Maybe I need smarter  bees!

Maybe I need smarter bees!

TTFN

Bishop

Top Bar Bee Hive

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I recently built two top bar hives to go along with my large Langstroth hive in my backyard.

On May 15th I drove  over to Navasota, TX, and picked up two packages of bees with health young queens . I installed them that same day and left them pretty much alone for 9 days or so. I inspected to ensure that they were building straight comb and in the orientation that I wanted. “Yessiree they were doing good.

Today, June 1st and I opened them up again to see how they were progressing. I am again impressed. They have built out to the 5th bar on both hives and appear to be happy. Below is a picture of bar 5 in my hand.

They are building comb on the wax base strip I added.

They are building comb on the wax base strip I added.

On most of  the top bars a routed a 3/8 inch wide slot about 16″ wide, centered in the 19″wide  top bar. On 6 bars for each hive I switched to a 1/4″ router bit and did the same. In the 1/4″  groove I used some beeswax cell material cut into a narrow strip and used hot beeswax to hold it in place. It appears that they are using it as a reference. I spaced out the bars with the base material alternating the standard bars with the 3/8″ grooved. On the3/8″ grooved bars I have a 3/8 X 3/4 spline glued into the groove and painted with melted beeswax. It appears to be working.

Top bar number 4 is really looking good! Sorry about the washed out photo….flash was a bit too bright.

Nearly full width and deep into the box.

Nearly full width and deep into the box. Sun was a little bright and the flash washed it out a little.

The second TBH was almost identically drawn out so I didn’t photograph any of the comb. The next photo shows the top of the hive with the corrugated plastic roof removed.

The bars fit flush across the top made of standard 1X2 lumber so replacement parts won't be a problem.

The bars fit flush across the top made of standard 1X2 lumber so replacement parts won’t be a problem.

The bees were gentle  and quiet. I did use my hood and a little smoke but no gloves. Soon…I will share a story of my stupidity and a veil filled with angry bees. Wonderful lesson learned.

Tomorrow is my planned day to open the Langstroth hive and extract honey. The two top medium supers are packed full and I should have a bountiful harvest.

Base entrance to the hive...very busy and they seem to be enjoying a sunny day without rain! Me too!

Base entrance to the hive…very busy and they seem to be enjoying a sunny day without rain! Me too!

TTFN

Bishop

The Mud Is Abating

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We have had a very wet and soggy spring here in Houston. I had hoped to have a bumper crop of strawberries but the ground bed has stayed too soggy, damp and cool. The local critters don’t seem to mind the mushy berries. I am a little more particular. The strawberry towers are producing pretty well but most of the plants are first year plants and harvest is meager but still tasty. 

My bride is not too happy with my ventures through the mud and back to the house. Apparently I manage to bring too much garden debris back through the back door. I try to be a good husband but my inspection process is not up to her standards! 

Some good news from the garden;

Asparagus is coming up! So sweet when freshly snapped off and enjoyed in the garden. The Meyer Lemon tree is blossoming out and spreading the intoxicating scent of the blossoms! The lime tree is also blossoming but can’t compete with the scent of the lemon blossoms. Four tomato plants are sending down roots and should bear fruit in early May. Sugar snap peas are done blossoming but I still snack on the few remaing pods.

The weeds have been working overtime in my absence! My consulting work has had me covered up. Fortunately my wife does an amazing job pulling weeds! Unfortunately it is a never ending task! 

The bees are another bright spot. Barring more rain I will open the hive and inspect it next week. If conditions are right I may be able to pull 10 to 15 pounds of honey without any negative impact! The only issue I encounter is; the bees take off and landing path is directly across the asparagus bed. They tend bump into me multiple times while picking. I need to remember to wear light colored shirts so I don’t agitate them! I haven’t been stung but I am acutely aware of their continual presence. I keep telling myself, “they don’t want to sting you Bishop, they don’t want to sting you!” 

My worm compost bin had been ignored for most of the winter. I cleaned up the trays, gathered a couple pounds of castings that went into the tops of the strawberry towers. The worm population looked diminished but should quickly rebound over the next few weeks! 

Enough for now. I’m down to three more trips to North Dakota for my client. It may not be a good thing as demand for my consulting skills has dried up with the collapse of oil prices. I may have lots of free time for the garden! 

Originally written many days ago so before I post I want to add updates. My awesome partner and weed puller has limited here boundaries. She will no longer pull weeds in the flight path of the bees – stung twice last week. She will also not pick the asparagus as it is in the flight path. 

  

The red on is a Chandlet berry and the other is a “Pineberry”, a hybrid that is barely pink when ripe and tastes a bit like pineapple. 

  

Dewberry blossoms in my secret location. It will be a bountiful harvest in about 2+ weeks. For a fee I will disclose the location. 

  

Look close- the vines are exploding with blossoms

The “Flow” Hive

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Some if my cohorts have shared this very interesting hive concept. Australian inventors and using a crowd sourcing mechanism to proceed with manufacturing. I am so tempted to get on the list! The bee guy I took my class from has a concern about bees robbing honey from the taps. I found some other videos that showed how some of the testers of the hive kept the robbers away! 

I like doing my little part for the environment. It appears that I will be a multiple hive owner by mid May. 

Check it out and see what you think! 

http://www.honeyflow.com

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/flow-hive-honey-on-tap-directly-from-your-beehive

TTFN

Bishop

The First Tomato

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The most important competition among gardeners everywhere centers around who can produce the first tomato of the season. I think, hands down, I am the winner for 2015 for the outdoor grown tomato.

My performance is almost unfair! Why? My red, ripe tomato was produced on a 2014 plant. A little unfair but let me explain. At the end of the 2014 season I had a healthy and robust plant that was still producing blossoms. It had dense and green foliage. I largely ignored it and hoped for a “tomato” miracle.

Then came the first freeze at the end of January. The good looking and hardy tomato plant died! In my ignorance I failed to notice several small tomatoes, two of which showed signs of ripening. Shown below is one. No taste test yet, it is very firm so I am guessing it will not be as good as a true outdoor, Sun kissed, 2015 planted tomato! Competition brings out both the best and the worst in people. So, nah nah nah nan nah! I win!

I still plan on having a juicy ripe 2015 tomato before the end of the first week in May! Be prepared for more bragging!

IMG_2654

It may not be big but it is pretty.

I do have three tomato plants in the ground with fingers crossed! A freeze could set me back! The birds and I are “fixin” to go to war! I need to put up bird netting to protect my strawberries or starve my wife’s three cats as a ploy to get their help! That tactic may get the bird lovers up in arms! How about withhold some of their food so they looked menacing to the birds?

Sugar snap peas rarely make it into the house..,.they are garden snack payments to my bride for her efforts to keep everything alive! Thanks Hun! And also For so much more!!!!!! Wink-wink.

TTFN – from the frozen north- Williston North Dakota!
Bishop

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