The Yellow Farmhouse Garden

October 5, 2010

Moving Feral Honeybees Into A New Home

Filed under: Uncategorized — bob @ 2:27 pm

A swarm of  feral (wild) honeybees landed in a tree near my house and established a hive right there on a tree branch out in the open. Normally they will search out a sheltered location such as a hollow tree, shed, wall of a house or other similar spot.

Knowing they would not be able to survive our Michigan winter out in the open like that, I decided to place them into a beehive body. This is a wooden box of standard size used to keep bees.

The first step is to smoke the bees to calm them down.  A bee smoker is the tool used for this purpose.

More smoke.

Once the bees have calmed down I was able to start cutting the nest away from the tree branches.

Luckily I was able to reach the bees from the ground.

The bees didn’t seem to mind that I was carrying the from the spot they called home for most of the summer.

Into the new home they go.

The bottom box, known as the hive body,  is where the nest is placed. The upper box holds the temporary bee feeders.

I wired the branch which was holding the combs on to a couple of wax frames. These are brand new and haven’t been drawn out into a honey comb. This is not very orderly compared to what you would find in a beekeepers hive body. Normally I would separate the combs and attach them to comb frames to make them easier to manipulate.

Feeding sugar syrup is critical if they are to have any chance at all to survive the winter.  It rained a couple of days afterward. Bees can’t forage for nectar in the rain so the syrup was consumed by the bees during that time. I used an old mayo jar with holes punched in the bottom as a feeder.

Later I added another feeder to help them take up more syrup. This is one of my chicken waterers filled with syrup. The sticks are there to help the bees climb up out of the liquid in case they accidentally fall in.  We wouldn’t want them to drown.

Bees can be seen flying into their new home with loads of nectar and pollen.

At this time of the year mostly Aster and Goldenrod nectar is collected by the bees.

Hopefully we will have a mild winter this year.  Often we will get a day or two of temperatures in the 50′s during the months of December through February. This will go a long way in helping the bees survive.

If they make it to March, they will be facing another critical time. Many beehives are lost in early spring before the flowers begin blooming. They will need to be fed again until they can collect adequate nectar.


September 9, 2010

Start Planning For Frost

Filed under: Uncategorized — bob @ 9:53 am

These cool nights are a reminder to me to start looking for my frost covering that I use in the garden each fall.
You may think it is too early to start thinking about frost but keep in mind that in some locations away from the urban areas, frost is entirely possible. For example for our readers in Lapeer, there is a ten percent probability of the temperature reaching 32F on September 5th.  In Monroe there is a ten percent probability of it reaching 36F by  September 27th.
I’m keeping this in mind as I go through my stuff this fall and will start to gather my garden covers and put them some place where I can get to them.

I may be a little early but this year when the really cold temperatures arrive, I’ll be ready for it.


July 8, 2010

Transplant Poppies Now

Filed under: Flowers,Uncategorized — bob @ 9:27 am

Oriental Poppies, once established reliably bloom year after year, sometimes for decades. They don’t like to be disturbed or moved unlike some other perennials that need to be divided every couple of years or so. Those other perennials can be handled more easily for moving.

There are times when plants need to be relocated for one reason or another, maybe you’re moving to a new home and want to bring your plants with you. If you have ever tried to move poppies in the conventional manner, that is in the spring or fall, you probably have been disappointed in the results.

The secrete to moving Oriental Poppies is to dig them after blooming rather than in the fall or spring as you would most other perennials. Once Poppies have finished blooming they enter into their dormant period which starts at this time of the summer and usually lasts until the middle of August.

Carefully dig the roots and divide them if needed and place them into their new spot about 18 inches apart with the buds about two inches below the soil. Poppies need plenty of sunlight to thrive so be sure their new location gets full sun. Other that that, they are quite happy under ordinary garden conditions.

You have plenty of time to move your Poppies so you don’t have to be in a big hurry to do so. Keep in mind that it may take a year or two before the plants bloom again after moving.


June 9, 2010

Insect Attack on Fruit Trees

Filed under: Fruit,Uncategorized — bob @ 9:38 am

Back in May I wrote about the need for early sprays for your fruit trees and how critical those early sprays are. If you didn’t take my advice, you may have noticed some of the fruit on your trees have marks on them caused by insects.

These developing fruits are the first casualties of the battle against the bugs.  They have been attacked by the Plum Curculio. Notice the vaguely  crescent- shaped blemish on the skin of the fruit here on the photo.

Typical symptoms of Plum Curculio damage.

The adult beetle looks for fruit into which it hopes to lays its eggs.  She burrows out a small cavity into the surface of the fruit then turns around and lays an egg into the cavity.  She then chews that tell-tale crescent around the newly hatched egg.

This pest infests most fruit trees grown in our area including (in order of preference) nectarine, plum, cherry, peach, apricot, apple, pear, and quince.

Most of the time the damaged fruit falls off of the trees but sometimes the fruit continues to hang on in the case of  peaches and cherries.

In two weeks time after feeding on the fruit, the larvae mature and emerge from the fruit to enter into the soil where they pupate for a couple of weeks. Then about 5 days from maturity, the beetles are back to infest more fruit. They continue this life-cycle all season long until October.

So even though it is too late to save the fruit that was attacked in this first wave, you should still keep a 7-10 day spray schedule going to control this and other pests.

Our next enemy that will be attacking the orchard is the Apple Maggot, they are poised to attack very soon.  We’ll discuss that next time.


Chick Progress

Filed under: Uncategorized — bob @ 8:58 am

It’s amazing how fast chicks grow. Here are our chicks at a couple of weeks of age or so.

They are losing their downy baby chick feathers and are developing their permanent feathers. We can begin to see the difference between the Sussex Sex Links and the Black Australorpes.  The female Sussex’ feathers are starting  to change color into a distinctive black and white pattern while the males have a brownish hue.

At this point they are still in the brood house and are being fed medicated chick starter.

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