Monday, April 29, 2013

Of Gardening and Bees

One of the things I love about gardening is that I get to really see miracles every day. Here is Saturday's miracle:

My zucchini seedlings have pushed up through the surface!

The huge cotyledons (seed leaves) on these baby plants expand out from seeds that are actually pretty small. My friend Becky says that the baby zucchini plants remind her of solar panels - they flatten out when the sun is high but fold closed for nighttime.

Also on Saturday (before the Big Rain started), I was able to plant the rest of the cucumbers and some okra and sunflowers. I still have a long way to go in terms of getting my summer garden planted, but it feels good to have made some headway.

Earlier in the day, Joe and I did our usual couple of hours weeding out at our friends' garden/farm on Dallas Highway, and I was invited on a little field trip to Burnt Hickory Roots Greenhouses to pick up flats of tomato and pepper plants.

I had never been out to that particular greenhouse - and I'll be lucky if I ever find it again, because I had a hilarious tour of Paulding County on the way there. However, the plants, which are grown from seed at the greenhouse, were beautiful and astonishingly affordable.

Joe and I also checked our hive on Saturday afternoon (it was a very full day!). The bees have started to make comb on seven of the bars in our top-bar hive. Here is Joe with one of the just-started combs:

Joe with a comb that is being newly formed by our bees.
 We even found the queen! She has a red dot on her back; otherwise, I wouldn't have noticed her. The closed white cells at the top of this comb contain honey, and the closed yellow cells (we think) are "brood cells," with baby bees inside.
The queen is marked with a dot of red paint.
When Joe built the hive, he put in a viewing window to let us do quick checks on the hive without disturbing the bees as much as when we've opened the hive and pulled out bars to see how the bees are doing. The window has been a good source of reassurance to us new beekeepers that all is still fine.
New comb, seen through the window on the side of the hive.
Every now and then, though, we will need to check on the hive comb-by-comb, to make sure all is as it should be. There are mites and beetles that cause lots of trouble for bees, and we need to keep an eye out for those, and we will need to add more bars to the bee-side of the hive as more comb is built.

Right now, there is a divider in place, keeping the hive space a little cozier until the bees reproduce and need more space.

Hope that everyone else had a great gardening weekend, too!

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