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We Have Baby Bees!

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Earlier this week I was a bit disheartened. The hive that I had labeled the “Cowboy” hive appeared to have abandoned, absconded, from the hive. I am an eternal optimist and even though there was no evidence of robbing, no evidence of hive beetles and an apparently ghost town looking hive, I maintained hope. I planned to return a few days later to confirm my suspicion.

Today, Thursday February 9th, I went out to the hive location in Splendora. I anticipated removing one hive and possibly adding a deep box with drawn comb onto the second hive that was thriving. Well, the Cowboy hive with two deep boxes was void of bees in the top box but, on closer examination of the frames in the lower box…….I saw capped brood, tons of bee bread and after moving a cluster of bees I saw new larva. I was amazed and “friggin” happy. I went from losing a hive to having optimism for the survivor bees that my “Goo” friend John and I cut from a downed tree in Porter last spring. See Goo Friends post – https://bishopsbackyardfarm.com/2016/04/

I am a happy camper/beekeeper!!!!!!!

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Inspecting the Cowboy Hive in Splendora. Finding good news! We have babies!!!!! I am fully geared up but didn’t need to be…gentle bees.

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Such a serious look….but it is a happy look! Thanks to John – my Goo friend for snapping the photo.

My trip to Splendora was two fold, I found a small NUC box with 5 frames for sale on Craig’s List in a nearby area. The young couple selling the box were new residents to a nice 3.5 acre parcel in the Splendora area and the idea of becoming beekeepers in addition to the rest of the work needed on the property was a bit daunting. Therefore….I took/bought the box.

It was not just just a quick purchase and go. The young couple, Charlie and Esmeralda, were friendly, open and also inquisitive. Small world, their interest in beekeeping was the result of a” groupon” class taught by the same instructor I had three years ago. They had stars in their eyes about beekeeping but realized that they needed to take smaller bites in managing their property, the bees would have to wait. They had just planted some fruit trees and were prepping a couple of raised beds for veggies. Esmeralda wants bananas and I told her about my bananas, Mexican bananas, and I saw her grin. Next trip I committed to bringing some pups of both the Manzano and the Burro bananas for them.I gave them my beekeeper business card and I now have a new customer for my local raw honey as well, at least until they become beekeepers…..Yee Haw!

It is just amazing what happens when you take time to get to know people.

TTFN

Bishop

Trivia – I have been using TTFN as my sign off for quite some time now….I lifted the “intialized” phrase from a special friend many years ago and always thought it originated from Winnie the Pooh stories…….. Well not quite!

From Wikipedia – “TTFN is an initialism for a colloquial valediction, ‘ta ta for now’, based on ‘ta ta‘, an informal ‘goodbye’. The expression came to prominence, in the UK, during the Second World War. Used by the military, it was frequently heard by the British public.”

The link to Winnie the Pooh, ,Tigger actually, did not occur until long after A.A. Milne wrote the books. Again, according to Wikipedia, “In Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, a 1968 Disney featurette, the voice of Tigger was performed by Paul Winchell, whose wife Jean Freeman suggested that he ad-lib the line. Apparently it resonated!

And now you know the rest of the story!

 

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Managing the Bananas

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I learn by mistakes, usually after the second or third one! A year and a half ago my banana plant produced a stalk of bananas and I had no clue why. 

I also learn via research. The internet said, if I take care of the plants they may produce by design rather than by accident. It is 10-15 month cycle for the plant to bear, they won’t produce well if crowded and they like to be fed.  I am using fish emulsion and regular doses of my compost. 

The results for this season, have been two full stalks of the Burro banana and three of the Manzano. The dead or damaged leaves are now used for a layer of mulch/weed barrier. In some parts of Mexico the leaves are used to wrap tamales rather than using corn husks. 

Just change the topic and slide into more about bananas….,,

I recieved a call about some “free” bees in a TALL pine tree and my Goo friend John and I checked them out. They are 30 plus feet up in a the tree with multiple openings in a long split in the trunk. It will be a real challenge. Not sure I am the man for the job. 

 While looking over the yard I noticed a banana plant, a Burro banana plant, with a very nice stalk of nature bananas. Located behind that plant is what looks like a Manzano plant with a stalk developing. Wow!

So, I gave a lesson and cut a nice big hand of bananas for the home owners. I will definitely have to follow up. Here is a photo of a recently cut hand from my plant that is identical to the one I cut at the homeowner’s house.

From the photo you can definitely see where the term “chunky banana” comes from. 

Earlier in the day we went by one of my hives in the backyard of a friend. This is an 8 frame garden hive, two deeps and two medium supers, started from a package during the second week of April. This colony just exploded. Must be a great Queen and on top of that, a great location. The plan for the visit was the remove excess  frames, consolidate and ready the hive for the remainder of the summer. Well, the hive was over flowing and chock full. The result was 40 pounds of honey and we still left them with plenty. Added some hive beetle traps and closed them up. 


One of my garden hives pictured above from earlier in the spring. Just two deep boxes and no supers. Top bar hive in the background. 

Now, a day later, FYI, this is taking me three days to jot down, I need to visit my top bar hives and another set of garden hives before I run off on my Californua adventure. I was just reminded that I need to organize and clean up my hive work site – yes dear

TTFN

Bishop

Way too Early for Bananas

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I stepped out into the garden this afternoon and discovered the surprise. My banana plant has opened up the female flowering portion of the plant, the inflorescence. This variety produced a very nice bunch of at least 40 big bananas last SUMMER! This is February FIRST! I am praying that we don’t have one of those February hard freezes that will wipe out the bananas.

On a side note, my bees have been hauling in pollen big way for over a month! The bees have found the banana nectar. Hope they are my bees.

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TTFN

Bishop

Cool Weather and Bananas 

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The weather has finally cooled enough that I had to cut the stalk. When I inspected the bananas this morning I noticed that the ripening process has sped up. Our friends and neighbors will receive some treats.  

  

 The bunch includes a cluster that never matured. I hope next year I will manage to get both varieties to produce. 

I hope to finish up the bee rescue today. I have developed a more simple option that could have been completed on the original rescue day. Rookie mistake and hindsight is always 20/20! 

Breaking news- part two of the bee rescue has been postponed until tomorrow. Details following the fishing report. 

TTFN

Bishop

 

Blogging Again

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A brief one to get the ball rolling…

The garden is still producing but not like in years past. The saving grace have been the cucumbers….Can’t give them away fast enough! The tomatoes are just pitiful looking specimens…..Oh, I pick a stray cherry tomato now and then but that is about it. The other success story is one of the banana varieties. I cut the stalk just below the female flowers after the plant switched to producing only male flowers. Those female flowers are developing nicely….time will tell.

I have a bee problem now…..a neighbor that has not been easy to get along with discovered my bee hive during a recent fence repair and filed a complaint. Almost 18 months with no issue but…….The HOA does not forbid bees but apparently there is a provision that if a resident “needs” protection from harm, i.e., bees, then I am the bad guy. They bees need a new home, far away from my yard.

The neighbor directly behind me is fully supportive of my bee keeping efforts. My neighbor to the east is a friend and fully supportive. The wicked witch to the West is the problem. Well, no honey for her! I have harvested about 8 gallons (about 90 pounds) from one hive and should have another good harvest just before fall.

My top bar hive is getting full. Tomorrow I am drafting my wife to give me a hand pulling some honeycomb and honey for my first harvest from this hive. It is a very healthy and strong hive. I am anxious to have it open tomorrow and show my wife how they build the comb and organize the activities inside the hive.

Nearly full width comb and deep into the box. We should see many, many more tomorrow.

Nearly full width comb and deep into the box. We should see many, many more tomorrow.

In two days I will move two of my hives to a farm, a little further than I wanted, but, I have a very interested woman that has been wanting bees. So off they go, both the large Langstroth hive and my top bar hive. I  retain ownership but, will have to travel to manage the hives. The second top bar hive was not to the bees liking when I installed them in May. They swarmed and moved off. Over the last few days there has been a small football sized mass of bees under some boards in the corner of my garden….they are now in my second top bar hive……I will see if I can keep it from scrutiny until it grows to the point that I can move it.

Took the cappings’ from today’s extraction of 6 medium frames. About two gallons of honey, 22 pounds was the result. I am using my solar “melter” to separate the wax and residual honey….nice, simple and easy way to do it. The solar box has a glass lid that helps hold the heat!

I mash the wax up on the top side of the SS pan. Still a bit of honey oozing out. Tomorrow the wax will be sitting on top of the water.

I mash the wax up on the top side of the SS pan. Still a bit of honey oozing out. Tomorrow the wax will be sitting on top of the water.

The melting process under the sun's heat melts the wax, drops out the trash as it drifts down to the water as relatively clean wax. I will later melt and filter it again through cheese cloth.

The melting process under the sun’s heat melts the wax, drops out the trash as it drifts down to the water as relatively clean wax. I will later melt and filter it again through cheese cloth.

Busy day today….I also transferred my Session India Pale Ale into the secondary fermenter. I added an ounce of Amarillo and an ounce of Simcoe hops……”dry hopping”. Should be amazing once finished. In a few days I will drop the temperature down to 34 degrees to get all the goodies to settle and bottle it. Can’t wait, but I will. Next up a beer using my honey as a component.

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

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