Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swarm collecting

Third swarm collected for the year.

About dinner time the same hive on Van Ness that threw off the other two swarms currently in our back yard threw off another one today and it is a Monster.  It was eight feet up in a tree.  I had to stand on a chair to get the loppers up to the branch it was on to be able to cut the branch.  Maybe it was ten feet up.  Let's say nine so as not to exaggerate.

Anyway, I had to position the box perfectly so that when I cut the branch it would drop into the box.  That took me a while because if I made a mistake the swarm would be all over the ground and then where would I be?  Shoveling bugs into a box is where I would be and I did not have a shovel.  Not a good place if the bugs can sting and you are reduced to using hands in place of a shovel.  The swarm was so big that I took out all but three of the foundations to accommodate it and the branch to which it was clinging.  The ropes to secure the bottom to the top of the box were laid out under and to each side of the box.  I was very careful and took my time positioning the box and the ropes to catch the drop.  The drop was almost perfect but bugs scattered on both sides of the box as well as filling the hive box as I got down from the chair immediately adjacent the box and slowly walked away from the proceedings.  From about 30 feet I turned to observe my doings, the bees' doings, and listened to the noise they were making and how the few that were still around me were acting which was not aggressive at all.  I was never stung during the entire process which then involved going back to the box and putting the top on it (this action squished a few which is not a good thing from a pheromone standpoint of hive alertness), tied the two ropes around the box which, as you may remember, were covered with bees that were outside the box and therefore thick upon the ropes that were to secure the bottom of the box to the top I had just replaced.  This gave me some trepidation as they crawled from the ground up the ropes then up my hands in remarkable numbers.  After tying the ropes I again walked away for a few moments to observe their attitude (and truth be told, mine).  Both were complacent.  (I think this was a wet swarm.  I believe it had been out of the mother hive for no more than three hours which indicates that they were full of honey with no hive to protect.  This is the perfect situation for collecting a swarm other than that it was a bit too high in a tree for perfection from my point of view and my viewpoint is that of a novice.) Then I lifted the box by the ropes tied around it and carried it to the truck.  There I shut it in and drove home.  Upon arrival, I made a clear path to the back yard and hive stand which I had set up for no good reason two days prior and there it was placed immediately outside the slider to our bedroom.  

It is a thing of beauty in aquisition and placement.

It makes a lot of noise.  There are a lot of bees in that box.

Pear bottling

Today is the day to put pears in bottles hanging from trees.  

Two bottles with three pear in them.  The double pear bottle is large.  Both are covered with cheese cloth and choked with same to keep sun/bugs out.  Both were examined for aphids and those found were killed.  Hoping for the luckiest and best outcomes.

Not expecting much.  The odds seem against it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Grafting, bud break and the last Mandarins

Wedge graft used to move Pink Pearl and Fuji onto the Cox's Orange Pippin on 4/3 with Cox bud break on 4/8.   Wind was very strong for two days immediately after the grafts.  Gala bud break on 3/31 blossoms appeared 4/8.  Cecille, Double Delight, and Mr. Lincoln roses grafted onto Cox with apples.  

Harvested the last Mandarins 4/19.  

Moved chicken compost onto blueberries and garlic.  Garlic is rusty for the second year in a row.  No more garlic for two years until that dies out.  

Rain 0.5 inch during the first week of April.

Rain total 18 inches.

Friday, April 3, 2009


The apple buds are beginning to push/break on the Cox's Orange Pippin.  That is the receiver (host) for the grafting I plan on doing this year.  Warmer areas located on higher benches along the coast have already pushed bud and the best grafting period is past.  Timing is everything for completely successful grafts.  Timed correctly and done simply, grafts can be 100% successful.

Timing is accomplished by watching the buds on the host tree.  When the buds are only just beginning to change from the winter dormant mode to the first bud on the host tree showing only the smallest bit of color it is time to apply the scions you plan to graft.  You must watch for bud push/break every day because when it begins it will continue quickly.  The scions should be taken without any leaves and stored in a plastic bag in a refrigerator or the coolest spot available like in the shade on the north side of a house.  They should be taken in January at the earliest.

More later.