We enjoy our lives here in the country, and the special place we’ve created on our little three acres of sand. As far as we can, we like to be self-sufficient, providing as much as possible for our own needs. The garden has a lot to do with that, and each time we open a quart of our delicious tomato juice, or use some of our frozen blueberries in a pie, we smile and feel grateful for what we’ve been able to grow on this old place in Northern Indiana.
We’ve had bees here three different times in the past, and they always got too fragile and died off, or absconded, as they did last year. The old place just isn’t the same without bees to pollinate the garden, so Jim did a lot of research, and built a whole new type of hive, from plans he found on the net. It’s called a top bar hive, and has a whole different way of functioning from most standard hives. This one is made with bars across the top of a space that the bees use to create their own hive base and hang brood and comb from, making it more like the bees make for themselves in nature. This one is really intended not to harvest honey and comb from, but to establish a more natural base for the bees to build their home base and forage out to pollinate a big area. Since pollination is our main goal, this kind of hive made more sense to us.
So we ordered bees and Jim went to pick them up two days ago, installing them into the hive and hoping they make it a home they’ll love for years. It’s a fascinating process, picking up bees you’ve ordered.
They come in a wooden screened box, 10,000 active, buzzing bees, clustered in the center of the box, around the queen, who is stoppered in with a sugar plug. You take them home, open the box, pull out the can of sugar that the bees have been feeding on, and hang the queen carefully in the center of the hive.
These pictures show the scene as Jim went out this morning to check how everything was going. The little white strip holds the queen cage, and you can see the bees, clustered around as he pulled the cage out to make sure she’d been freed. You can see the cluster of bees inside the hive, and the guards on the bars above.
The hive is right at the side of the garden, and hopefully the whole area will benefit from these hard workers. The pictures show what’s up and going at this time.
So far we have Buttercrunch Lettuce, starting to curl into heads, interplanted with onions that we’re already starting to harvest for green onions. We also have cabbages, doing very well, and loose leaf green and red lettuce, spinach, collards, kale, peas reaching for the fences, and strawberries, just bursting with blooms. It’s going to be a very good garden year, and it should do much better with our little beneficial guardians pollinating it.
And last but also very important, Jim found morels this week, right in our own yard! Just 5, but they were so very delicious! Oh, boy, nothing else quite like those wonderful morels.
Just two weeks until we pick up our chicks, then we’ll bee really complete—Hooray!